WOW! Two days later and I am STILL reeling from the events of Wednesday night. I know I have spent a lot of time here and on Facebook recently raving about A Place to Bury Strangers and their show at the Rhythm Room April 14. What is scary is I have seen them on three prior occasions and they actually surpassed my expectations for this show!
First of all, apologies to The Big Pink, but quite simply after the show APTBS put on it was pointless to stick around for more live music. An artist like Elbow or Bob Mould would have to have been next for me to rationalize staying for the remainder of the evening.
Anyway, let’s focus on the killer set A Place to Bury Strangers unleashed on the packed Rhythm Room crowd. Kudos to the locals for showing up to witness this great band, I love it when an out-of-town band that smokes gets a big crowd to see them play. A big thanks to Oliver Ackermann! I had a chance to meet and briefly talk with him before the show, a genuine, sincere individual with not one iota of that BS rockstar attitude. It is really cool when a band I dig has cool members, it just makes me appreciate the band that much more. A big thank you for the signed Exploding Head CD cover!
Just as with every show I have seen these guys play there is no wasted time, they simply get onstage, strap on their instruments and pummel every song played into submission. APTBS is not a band for the weak at heart. Simply put, the ferocity they unleash during their live performances makes them one of the BEST live bands in the world today. There is no such thing as a sub par performance with this trio, they are incapable of delivering a bad show.
Beginning the proceedings with the “mellow” (in regards to tempo only) Ego Death, A Place to Bury Strangers set the tone for a tremendous set. This song in my opinion may be one of their darkest, a track that recalls some of the best moments from the Sisters of Mercy. A stellar way to start off their set, and an opportunity for the uninitiated to get their feet wet.
That is because the remaining seven songs they played were furious, intense ear-splitting tracks of unbridled fury. When APTBS increases the tempo to match the volume, they become one of the most frightening and incredible live acts you will ever have the pleasure of seeing. Any band can deliver loud music, but the pop hooks Ackermann has created to mesh with the decibel level are absolutely incredible.
The first single In Your Heart from their sophomore effort Exploding Head was particularly brutal on this evening. What made the song stand out from the other times I have heard it live was the ability of the sound man at the Rhythm Room to actually bring Oliver’s vocals to the forefront, enabling the crowd to experience the song in its complete form, rather than just the bone-crushing guitars and bass work. Deadbeat sounded just as good, delivered with the same type of intense fury that song demands.
APTBS has a new bassist. I was bummed at first when I learned Jono Mofo was no longer a member, as he plays with a style that at times reminded me of Billy Zoom from X. He was that cool onstage. However, new bass player Dion Lunadon, formerly of the bands D4 and True Lovers was an outstanding replacement! He possesses a maniacal energy when he plays that is a perfect showcase for the furious energy of the music. During I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart his prowess on the bass was truly evident, even venturing out into the audience during the ultra-intense bass solo toward the end of the song.
Jay Space makes more happen with a small drum kit than just about any other percussionist I have ever seen. He plays with a punishing style that simply adds to the intensity of each song.
Oliver Ackermann – I cannot rave enough about this guy and his work on the guitar. I think “destroy” is the perfect verb to detail what he does on the axe, and when he is not at the microphone singing he flails about the stage with a ferocious energy that inspires memories of Pete Townsend at his best. A true showman, he pours every bit of his frame into every song. This was the first time I ever saw him actually address the audience during a show. At Coachella last year while the band was setting up before their show, Oliver hit his guitar once and produced such an intense roar that someone in the crowd yelled out, “turn it down”, to which he responded “we can’t turn it down.”
All four times I have seen A Place to Bury Strangers they have ended the set with the last track from their first album, Ocean. This is one of the most brutal songs I have ever heard played live. The band creates a massive wall of sound during this song that to this day I believe is intended to make one’s ears bleed. The ending of the song when Ackerman hits a screeching note on his guitar to begin the explosive climax is still one of the most intense and scary moments today in rock and roll. To see the uninitiated in the crowd react when that occurred was absolutely priceless.
The only bad part? Only eight songs, it was over too quick! However, I liken a show from A Place to Bury Strangers to the classic punk shows of my childhood that I attended. That much fury cannot be extended for too long a period of time. It creates that much more intense of a memory for fans like me, and makes me look forward to next time that much more. If you have not seen this band, please put them on your agenda next time they come to your town.
I am still reeling from this show folks, holy cow!
- Ego Death
- Exploding Head
- In Your Heart
- To Fix the Gash in Your Head
- I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart