Mogwai is fucking fantastic; the G-word.

Tinnitus alert: If only Steven Jesse Bernstein were alive today! The Seattle writer who demanded menacingly, "More noise, please!" might've been the only guy in the joint without his hands over his ears as Mogwai tested the sonic limits of the Showbox last Wednesday. The Scottish band's much-anticipated appearance turned into one of the most memorable shows in years, the kind of performance that inspires a hundred kids from the audience to go out and start a band the next morning, the kind of show that you think back on and hear the same static hum that bounced around the walls and threatened to make heads explode. The night started off innocently enough. The 1,000-plus patrons entering the sold-out show didn't know that the club had just installed a killer new sound system. They also probably weren't familiar with the opening act, the Finnish electronic duo Pan Sonic, whose Seattle date happened to coincide with Mogwai's, leading the two envelope-pushing artists to pair up for a one-off gig. As the crowd flowed in, they could see two guys with a few pieces of equipment and hear pulsating beats that echoed and morphed playfully, if not purposefully. Certainly an entertaining set, but it would be all but obliterated by what would happen next. Mogwai ambled onstage in the darkness, starting tentatively, playing instrumental songs that swayed haphazardly like tree branches in a gusty wind. A third of the way through their set, the Scots became more aggressive, veering between tranquil guitar jams and rhythmic swells. By mid set it became evident that guitarist-vocalist Stuart Braithwaite wouldn't be needing his microphone. Mogwai turned a corner into a dark space where few bands dare to tread, building each song to tempestuous, extended conclusions that grew increasingly, unimaginably louder. Audience members laughed, cowered, stood entranced. Mogwai didn't care. They played on, caressing their ungodly noise, sculpting it into

rough textures here, softer ones there. It was at once sinister and soothing. It was fucking fantastic.

Less grunge, please: Whether or not grunge is dead, the Gnome would like to ask politely of advertising types, "Please stop using the metaphysical nature of this city's once-trademark music style (if that) as a marketing tool. Please." Some lube joint's ad from last year at least had some zing to it: "The only grunge left in Seattle is under your hood." Ha! Now, a jobs-dot-com company is trying "Grunge is dead. Get a job," or some such silliness. Pardon the Gnome's French, but arr괥! On top of this, a major network called the Weekly last week looking for twentysomething musicians to audition for roles in a TV pilot about a band in Seattle. How much you wanna bet it's called something like Grunge Is Dead? You betcha!

metrognome@seattleweekly.com

 
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