The raw power of multiple guitars playing really loudly, fed through a shit ton of distortion.
“But last night they also proved that they can still rock. The set closed with the staple “Like Herod”—the song singlehandedly responsible for getting a decade of critics to lazily refer to Mogwai as “that soft-loud-soft band” – which then merged seamlessly into “Batcat,” the token loud rock song from Mogwai’s forthcoming new album, The Hawk is Howling (which you can hear in full on their MySpace page). It was an explosive ending that left the crowd cheering for more. More, of course, is what we got, and it came in the form of an encore that consisted of two more deliriously satisfying loud numbers—”Christmas Steps” and, of course, the noisy closer “My Father My King.” It’s as if the band structured their setlist to lull casual fans to sleep before blowing their eardrums out.”
What I want to talk about is the opening band, Fuck Buttons. I really, really, really dug their set, and have already ordered their album. To use the old crit-cliche of X +Y = Z, I will say that Fuck Buttons sound like Brian Eno (ambient period) + Merzbow. Their formula is really very simple: lay down some minimalist but pretty synth lines, repeat them, while adding a wall of noise on top, and insert tribal-sounding drums. All this adds up to a hypnotic sea of pretty noises that flow in and out of each other.
However, it does take an acquired taste to appreciate, so if you don’t like noise-based experimental music, then Fuck Buttons isn’t for you. In fact, their set was not visually interesting, because it’s just two guys twiddling nobs and looking at their Macbooks. On the other hand, their music is very entrancing, and now it becomes clear why Pitchfork gave them such a good review.
In fact, the whole show consisted of very little, if any, dancing at all: after all, you can’t dance to epic-length post-rock, purely instrumental jams. But if it makes any sense, music made by Fuck Buttons and Mogwai are both arresting.
Besides, we all know that hipsters don’t dance: it’s a scientific fact.