My Bloody Valentine at Austin Music Hall –
Review By Lee Ackerley
It has been over two decades since the Irish alternative rock group My Bloody Valentine released their debut album, Loveless. However, the influence and appreciation for what is widely considered to be ‘the seminal Shoegaze album,’ has not diminished in the least. Friday night at the Austin Music Hall was a burden of proof that My Bloody Valentine not only maintains legions of loyal fans from their work twenty years ago, but additionally, they’ve garnered a groundswell of new fans who’ve been won over by their 2013 comeback album, m b v. Whether you’re a new MBV fan, or have been for twenty years, it isn’t hard to identify the genius and likeness that is present in all periods of their music.
Twenty-two years between album releases creates quite a dichotomy in one’s fan base. Friday night’s show, saw aged new wavers in their forties intermingled with young hipsters barely old enough to buy a beer. It is the recent and critically acclaimed album, m b v, that has brought the mainstream focus back onto My Bloody Valentine, but the recent exposure has also illuminated the impact of MBV’s unique sound, which unquestionably changed the landscape of alternative music. Whether you’re a new MBV fan, or have been for twenty years, it isn’t hard to identify the genius and likeness that is present in all periods of their music.
Friday night’s foray kicked off with opening Austin band, New Fumes, who poured on a heavy dose of psych synth in preparation for MBV. The sole creative force in the band, Daniel Huffman, is a bona fide talent who hails from the Austin area. His set, which was full of pre-recorded laptop beats and spacey guitar soundscapes, was captivating despite incomprehensible vocals and shaky strong structure.
After a fifteen-minute set change the lights dimmed and MBV came onstage to an almost sold-out crowd that had paid the hefty $45 ticket tag to see only the second MBV tour in twenty years. Wasting no time, the band launched into the rollicking opener, “I Only Said,” off of Loveless, which doused the crowd with an initial wave of warm, fuzzed nostalgia. That was followed with my personal favorite, “When You Sleep,” with its strident synths and hushed lyrics, and then the band’s latest hit, “New You,” off of the newest album.
MBV has universally been called ‘Shoegaze’ because they were part of a related group of bands in the early-90’s that were noted to stare at their feet and not move at all during performances. Twenty years later, the label still applies, as the whole band, including frontman Kevin Shields, were sedentary for the entirety of the show. More unexpectedly, the crowd seemed to mirror the band’s lack of movement.
The band worked through about half of the album Loveless, four songs off the new album, and a handful of songs from their EP’s and first album Isn’t Anything. The middle of the set suffered from what seemed like a monotonous malaise of indifference that infected a few of the songs, but the set picked up once more with the sped-up “Wonder 2” and an older classic, “Soon.”
MBV historically finishes each set with “You Made Me Realise,” which goes on much longer than their studio edit, mainly because they segue into a segment that is called ‘the holocaust’ by fans. ‘The holocaust’ is a given amount of time that can last from five to thirty minutes, where the band plays the same note over and over at deafening decibel levels, driving many out of the venue, but entrancing the majority. The band went for only about eight minutes of audio assault on the ears for the Friday show, but it was a fine endpoint to what was overall a great show for all fans, new and old. -Lee Ackerley