A Place to Bury Strangers are loud. Whether or not they’re the loudest band in the world is another matter, but the distant hum that haunts you after the gig simply doesn’t lie – they’re absolutely brutal. Not only that, they’re utterly relentless as well. After exchanging pleasantries with fans outside the gig beforehand, lead singer Oliver Ackermann leads his band on stage and simply exudes the presence of a front man. Well, that’s if you can even see him or the rest of the band – with the smoke machines working overtime, the crowd are mostly left the peer through an every changing coloured mist as the hyperactive lightshow illuminates the venue.
It’s fair to say that A Place to Bury Stranger’s music speaks for itself though. After years of trying to make it by himself in Virginia, Ackermann and his DIY ethic moved to New York and have since been catapulted to critical acclaim. It’s good to hear that the wall of noise effect of the band’s two records isn’t simply for show on record – in the flesh, it’s doubly so. There’s barely room to breathe as the band’s crushing, almost apocalyptic sound takes a grip and refuses to let go.
You’d think that supporting one of the best live bands around would be something of a poisoned chalice, but in an amazing act of generosity, whoever booked APTBS tour managed to get two bands who would both easily be worthy of the £6 entrance fee. Whereas APTBS represent the My Bloody Valentine, ear-bleeding side of shoegaze, Sad Day for Puppets are the representatives of the more twee, tuneful side of the spectrum. ‘Marble Gods’ is their centrepiece, and rightly so – it’s a condensed version of everything that was right with bands like Lush that formed such a key part of the early 90’s.
Japandroids are another matter all together. A two piece filled with energy, it’s difficult not to compare them to the regrettably departed Death from Above 1979, especially with lines like ‘You’re as cold as ice, girl/I should know, I’ve been to the North Pole’. Playing tracks from their debut ‘Post-Nothing’, the band give their all to entertain the handful of people that managed to work out just how early this concert was. Much more than the sum of their parts, they’re certainly destined for greater things than opening gigs at 6.45.
It fair to say that the stars of the show were predictably the headliners and despite the venue desperately needing to clear up in order to accommodate a Mat Horne DJ set afterwards (which is a sickening thought in itself), Oliver and Company carry on their own brand of distorted, experimental guitar music regardless of suggested stage times – rarely has feedback sounded so glorious. They’re ferocious and the crowd, cold from the horrible conditions outside, soon warm up and give the band the ovation they rightly deserve as they leave the stage. It’s almost deafening, it’s certainly tinnitus inducing, but it’s brilliant.