Tranquil music doesn’t (and should never be thought to) preclude an exciting and enchanting concert. Scottish Post-Rock group Mogwai have mastered the ability of combining serene soundscapes with a tantalizing live show. The Post-Rock pioneers played a show immersed in clean guitar lines, which would build into distorted crescendo-ing climaxes.
Opening act Balam Acab played a mix of Electronic Dance Music and calmer indie, reminiscent of The XX. Featuring male and female vocalists (again welcoming The XX comparisons), Balam Acab used one guitar, a keyboard and a mixing board. The latter of these instruments was used to provide bass loud enough to move the crowd. The sounds were no longer heard, but felt. Shirts vibrated as the group’s final (and longest) dual-vocal song moved towards its completion.
The group walked on stage with an apprehensive demeanour before opening with “Yes! I Am a Long Way From Home”. The song progressed as most Mogwai songs do: softly picked reverberated guitar chords, gentle build up, and an astoundingly loud and exciting climax. Mogwai’s ability to command an audience is as immense as ever. Despite rare use of vocals, the Scottish group’s calming melodies entranced the entire crowd throughout the entire night.
Mogwai’s fourth track saw the group perform White Noise, a single from their most recent release, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” (A dramatically misleading album title, to say the least). For it, keyboard player Barry Burns grabbed a third Fender Telecaster guitar to complete the song’s multiple guitar harmonies. Guitarist/Vocalist Stuart Braithwaite thanked the crowed bashfully with a nervous, but immediately well-received “Merci beaucoup”.
The Scottish act closed with “The Hawk is Howling” song Batcat. The song saw the entire crowd cheering as Stuart Braithwaite played the first dissonant chords, which surely progressed into an abrasive climax, interrupted by melodic bass riffs.
Post-Rock lacks the ability to commandeer audience attention like faster and more involving genres do. Mogwai play a slow and at times dark take on Post Rock, but manage to include everything a fan of the genre would expect: Tremolo picked guitars, tremendous amounts of reverb, and distortion for the song’s climaxes. The group succeeded in balancing tranquil music with an exciting performance, pushing the boundaries of Post Rock even further.