Sometimes you go to a gig with little or no expectation of what you might see or hear. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been A Place to Bury Strangers’ fan since they released their first album, but I had never seen them live and had only heard the various descriptions about their live show. Chaotic, improvised, louder than hell, and so forth have always dotted the verbal landscape about this now-veteran band. I went in to see them live with excitement but not really knowing if the various descriptions would play themselves out. I have to say, the band exceeded my expectations. Yes, there were improvised moments and the occasional thrown guitar, but there was much more here. There is a depth to their live show that bleeds veteran performers.
Before I go any further, I should say something about who these individuals are. Oliver Ackermann brought the guitars and vocals and is the remaining founding member of the band. Dion Lunadon played bass and Lia Simone Braswell played drums. Now Simone Braswell is the newest member of the band and hot damn can she play. From the very first bar of music, it was clear that she was going to be a beast and she proved it throughout the set. I can’t say enough about how epic she was on percussion! Of course, Ackermann and Lunadon brought the noise and brilliant, brooding, thundering shoegazey walls of sound throughout the set. While there is a chaos to their live show, there is still structure in the songs so that fans can, indeed, tell which they are playing off various albums. However, they do change things up and play in the moment, shaping the space they are in with their sonic onslaught.
Further, the show is enhanced with perfectly placed lights that both blind at times and shape how the players on the stage are viewed. It’s a brilliant touch that creates a sensory overload. It also shows that the band, as I’ve said above, are consummate musicians and live performers. So much more than loud or chaotic, they are artists and it’s beautiful to behold. Here’s the setlist for the evening. I could not find the origin for all the tracks so I filled in those I could.
We’ve Come So Far (Transfixiation)
You Are the One (Worship)
Drill It Up (Onwards to the Wall)
Ego Death (Exploding Head)
Never Coming Back
Ocean (To Fix the Gash in Your Head/Ocean single)
If you can catch this monster of a band on the road, I highly recommend you do. They put on a performance like most other bands could never do.