Live Review

Slint, Brixton Electric, London

13th August 2014

The sound tonight is especially below par, but it’s hard to imagine a live space that could truly do Slint justice.

At Brixton Electric tonight, the sound is completely atrocious. The first song should be a painstaking masterclass in dynamics and control, but this time it has to compete with the sound of boxes clanking their way across the venue before being plonked onto the bar with an almighty crash. Onto the second, and the kit’s bass drum sounds like a stuffed weasel being repeatedly slammed into a creaking fire door, and the usually unmistakable guitar riff like a Fisher Price xylophone being crushed in a metal compressor. It restarts twice before finally giving up so that the sound techs can scurry across the stage, heaving PAs into position as the band stand around head scratching. It really is quite a faff.

Normally such chaotic proceedings easily derail an entire show. Then again, Slint are not a normal band. “Thanks for being patient,” says Brian McMahan, and – just like that – ‘Breadcrumb Trails’ boots up into life, chiming as it should, and finally reaching magic potential. The show goes on.

McMahan is captivating to watch, exploding from disquieting and hushed spoken word into screams and yelps, and it looks like he’s putting his entire essence into every cry. Then he recoils, and wanders the stage, takes a look over at David Pajo doing his thing, fiddles with his glasses, and stands by the curtain nodding his head with one hand awkwardly tucked into his pocket. Then he bursts back to the microphone, with an almighty “I said good-bye to the ground”. It’s loud - properly health and safety flouting loud – and the band seem totally ravelled in the web of sound. Aside from the occasional “thanks”, Slint barely seem to see their audience. It’s not rudeness at all, and in fact, nonchalance towards the room seems appropriate, from Slint at least.

Slint, Brixton Electric, London Slint, Brixton Electric, London Slint, Brixton Electric, London

‘Spiderland’, after all, is a very insular album. It’s made for poring over alone in an empty room, letting every time-shift and Pajo-guitar-special wrap itself round your cranium like a silky post-rock cocoon. The sound tonight is especially below par, but it’s hard to imagine a live space that could truly do Slint justice. Seminal classics are the order for tonight, though ‘Washer’ ‘Good Morning, Captain’ and a chilling, ‘Don, Aman’ don’t really come into their own live, so much as turn semi-translucent. Seeing the cogs of Slint in operation is fascinating. At odds with the intensity of their music, Slint are relaxed and unfussy on stage, as if they were just having a casual rehearsal. Their presence seems touchable, even everyday, and ordinary. Their music, on the other hand, is shatteringly brilliant.

Tags: Slint, Reviews, Live Reviews

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