A Place to Bury Strangers

Sunday, 10 June 2012 00:00 Stephen Bush Reviews - Concerts
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cover imageI was lucky enough to catch A Place to Bury Strangers a couple days ago on the first date of their co-headlining tour with This Will Destroy You. Their show is no different than when I caught these guys on their first circuit of Texas shows about five years back: in other words, one of the loudest live bands I have ever seen hasn't gotten any softer with age.

2 June 2012, Austin, Texas.

Yeah, it was LOUD—you don't need me to tell you that—but excessive volume wasn't the only goal. An APTBS show is best described as Total Sensory Overload: not just the sheer density and physicality of the music, but the projections cutting through pitch darkness to backlight the band, the strobe lights and fog machine, all working in unison to overwhelm and numb one's senses. The songs are so buried in the mushroom cloud of sound coming from the three guys on stage as to be rendered unrecognizable: is that a new song, or a familiar one slathered in so much distortion, static, harsh feedback, and metal-scraping noise, turned up way past the threshold of sane listening levels, that I cannot honestly remember if I've heard it before? I did manage to catch a couple toward the end: APTBS closed with an extended (and much noisier) version of "I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart," and then "Ocean," the monolithic closing track from their debut that dissolves into sheer chaos.

The band's third album, Worship, is due at the end of this month. I recognized a couple of its melodies scattered throughout the set—the title track, in particular, is a massive tune that Robert Smith would kill to have penned in his Faith/Pornography days. A handful of the songs have grabbed me; others haven't yet, or may never. The tricky thing about APTBS albums is how they are always doomed to struggle in comparison to the unreal live show. Kinda like listening to a reproduced audio recording of a jet engine on CD would never compare to the intensity of standing next to a real one for an hour, operating at full tilt, having your senses pulverized and beaten down, and when it's over, being helpless to hear anything for the next 24 hours. Sometimes, listening to an APTBS album, I will wonder why settle for a watered-down version of the live experience.

That said, the visceral, overwhelming show last Saturday is best summarized by a handful of photos. Go get the full experience if you're on the West Coast. Don't forget your earplugs.

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Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 01:25