A Place To Bury Strangers in The Workman’s Club on March 31st 2015
With a reputation to put on an incredible live show, we wandered down to the Workman’s Club on Tuesday night to catch a glimpse of ‘New York’s noisiest band,’ A Place To Bury Strangers. The band’s newest album, ‘Transfixiation’, treads much the same ground as the first three, combining a loose blend of post-punk, shoegaze and noise-rock, with the emphasis on the noise.
September Girls were support for the evening, and were a significant attraction in their own right with the venue almost full for their set alone. The band have evolved into a very tight and powerful outfit over the last few years, and their performance, filled with the band’s signature harmonies and post-punk gloominess was certainly impressive.
The main act themselves emerged to an avalanche of distortion and feedback; and they never turned it down all evening. The sheer volume of the act – containing just a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer – was immense, and this was an experience not just for the ears, but for the whole body as the vibrations shook the audience to the very core. Tunes were barely recognisable beneath the colossal amount of feedback, but snatches of We’ve Come so Far could be made out at some point.
There were times where the explosion of noise was just that, a wall of feedback that had no sense of the tune that existed beneath it all. At other moments, particularly on the slower more restrained tracks, the distortion was released in concentrated bursts rather than the total annihilation the band normally exhibited and this was far more effective. There’s no real musicianship in causing manic feedback for over an hour, and the band had to compensate by racking up the physicality and showmanship of the show. Bassist Lunadon jumped into the crowd at one point, before throwing his bass ahead of him as he got back on stage, while Ackerman nearly took out Lunadon when he chucked his guitar in the air.
Although the band veered from super charged noise pop to a bunch of lads tossing guitars around on stage, the one song that was undeniably brilliant was I’ve Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart. The song sounded roughly like it does on record, and the powerful build-ups moved up from quiet to loud instead of one blanket volume setting. Essentially this track had more going on in it than just a shed-ton of distortion, which made it the best song of the night
At the end of the show, instead of an encore the band wandered to the back of the venue and set up to play a few more tunes. However with a horrible sounding drum machine and just one amp instead of the army of machines on stage, the set went from hit and miss to pretty darn awful. The songs they played were not anything recognisable, and were possibly improvised. In any case, aside from the novelty of playing in the middle of the crowd, this was a brutal end to the gig.
It was loud, it was violent, it was messy. This show will take some time to digest, and while the quality of the performance was questionable at times, it was well worth attending just for the unique experience A Place To Bury Strangers provided.