February 19, 2011

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Showbox SoDo

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor has simultaneously always been on my list of bands I would kill to see live and list of bands that I was convinced that I would never see live. I was obviously a bit late to jump on their bandwagon, like many bands of the sort. As much as I would love to have listened to post-rock in my youth, I was only eight or nine when GY!BE stopped touring and went on an indefinite hiatus. I only discovered their music a little over a year ago.

Yet last year, out of absolutely nowhere, this legendary group announced their reunion, of which was to be accompanied with touring throughout Europe and the US. I crossed my fingers for a Seattle show and when a string of tour dates was released in September, my wishes were granted. I’m pretty sure the show had sold out in under a week, further reminding me of how special of an experience this show was going to be. And sure enough, it surpassed all my expectations.

While I hope to never fall to the level of a vain and incomprehensible Sunn O))) fan when describing some incredible live show experience, I must say that this show definitely claims a name as one of the best that I’ve seen and it’s difficult to communicate after experiencing something like that. I connect with music on a very emotional level, especially when it comes to post-rock. My senses were, of course, flooded with the music—from the rushing energy gathering from the furiously approaching climax to the piercing notes of the violin, dropped so cautiously into the tense ambiance—but also the visual half—the nostalgic lighting was just enough to partially illuminate the faces surrounding me and cast the shadows of the musicians on stage onto the backdrop behind them, where film loops of lonely landscapes and sad birds were being played. Put simply, it was quite hypnotic. I, like most of those around me, just stood there captivated with eyes and ears open as dark, desolate atmospheres were constructed around us.

I was a bit surprised at the length of time for which they played. It’s a common known fact that GY!BE ‘songs’ are lengthy pieces, usually spanning upwards of 20 minutes, yet they played seven of them. I was thrilled that “Storm,” a rather upbeat and giant crescendo of a song, was their opener—such a great gathering of energy. And being most familiar with Yanqui U.X.O. and Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, I excitedly recognized “Sleep” and “rockets fall on Rocket Falls” within their first couple seconds. Out of the full tracklist, posted here, I can now only not recognize “Albanian.” Not sure where that comes from, or whether it’s even been officially released? I just wish I hadn’t gone to this show so sleep deprived, because after four or five hours of standing in one place, I was hit by a wavve of fatigue.

Regardless, months of patient waiting have been appropriately awarded and I’m certain that that anyone else who has the pleasure to be seeing this group play a show on this tour will feel the same. Embrace the apocalypse that GY!BE are playing for—it’s a beautifully lonely world.


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Photos by Monika Sapek

Posted by Anna at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)