Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Atlas Sound @ Bottom of The Hill, San Francisco, CA, 03/08/08

For an artist whose last album was an intimate bedroom recording project, Bradford Cox showed an excessive amount of energy on stage. It was of course, immediately apparent, from his swaying and practically incoherent rambling, that this was due to the alcohol he had consumed prior and continued to consume (and spill) throughout the show. According to the bassist, it was only one drink. If that's true, it's confounding that such a tall person could be such a lightweight because he was so drunk that the show must've gone on almost 2 hours longer than it should have, to fit in all of his in-between song ranting, crowd interaction, and aimless jamming. And even after the show was over, he stayed on stage, sat on a monitor and just continued to talk to the crowd about music, modern art and people he had met that night. Failed attempts at covers followed (although one effort was successful: Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror") and after ten minutes of requests, Bradford finally dragged himself off stage.

As infinitely entertaining as it was to witness Bradford Cox spiral into unpredictable silliness (especially to his core fans who, eventually began to encourage him with conversation), it's a shame that his antics had to kill the atmosphere of the excellent songs, because when he did stick to the set, what went down was a force to be reckoned with. Composed of members from openers, Valet, and the impressive ambient sound manipulator, White Rainbow, Bradford's backing group tackled all of the more structured and full-band oriented songs from Let The Blind Lead... with impressive vitality and concentration. The sound mixing was perfect, and was able to fit all the electronic noodling and noisy guitar texturing on stage into a listenable form (Bottom Of The Hill has always, in my opinion, contained one of the best and clearest sound systems in the entire city). But the overall feeling of the show can best be characterized by it's last 5 minutes. The set ended in a total stage breakdown, each of the five musicians on-stage escaping their otherwise consistent pensive raptness to completely consume the audience with an off-the-rails performance of fierce noise making and impassioned form. It was truly captivating...up until the moment Bradford Cox clumsily dropped a mic on his friend/bassist's face, giving her a fat lip. Here's hoping their other shows on the tour stay a little more focused.

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