APTBS & The Big Pink at the Bottleneck

Arriving in Lawrence I quickly realized that school was still in session. The older I get, the younger these college kids appear, and more bizarrely they seem to dress. GET OFF MY LAWN!!! Guess I’m getting old; such was the case with the crowd at the Bottleneck for an evening that would prove to be deafeningly loud (in a good way.)

Walking into easily one of the most generation diverse crowds I’ve encountered as of late I even think that the number of those under twenty one sporting the obvious black X’s on each hand may have potentially outnumbered us older folk with our vibrant neon green wrist bands. Further it was a very mixed music crowd. From the annoying frat boy who looked way out of place at this ‘indie’ rock show to the skinny jean-sporting, ‘ironic’ thick mustache, just about every look seemed to be in attendance. For as many of the young pups there seemed to be in attendance there also seemed to be a matching set of an older crowd (your humble reviewer now firmly in that set) there to take in the sounds of two of the most bleeding edge up and coming artist that were obviously inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, early Nine Inch Nails, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

In what I felt was more of a double bill as both A Place to Bury Strangers and the Big Pink seemed to share equal stage time, A Place to Bury Strangers was up first. As the lights when down and the smoke machine kicked up it wasn’t long before it felt like I was back in the Bottleneck of the late ’90’s with smoke filling the air as the acrid smell. APTBS was using projectors for most of their lights behind the band and in front. This created some pretty interesting visuals if one were to look up. Occasionally the smoke built enough of a wall to act as a screen.  I had previously seen APTBS opening for Nine Inch Nails on their 2008 Lights in the Sky Tour where they were using a similar light setup, although radically different in the small confines of the Bottleneck compared to the huge arenas of those shows.

Considering the band recently went through a lineup change that saw it’s founding bassist depart, one couldn’t tell it by how tight they sounded Saturday night. Oliver Ackermann, APTBS lead vocalist and guitarist creates a wall of feedback and effect infused sound. The set which consisted heavily of material from their self titled 2007 debut. A couple of songs from last year’s Exploding Head were mixed in toward the end of their set, as were the strobe lights.

Hailed as “the loudest band in New York” at the end of their set they more than lived up to their name. Producing waves of high pitched feedback that in tandem with the strobe lights and the smoke that now filled the room, it was nearly a transcendent experience. I was transfixed by the strobe lights and the wall of sound that seemed to pull me out of the room and send me off into space.

Up next was The Big Pink. I’ll be honest, I had very limited exposure to The Big Pink prior to seeing them this evening. I had heard of them through a friend and sampled a bit of their tracks one drunken evening but hadn’t listened to their critically acclaimed 2009 debut A Brief History of Love. The crowd seemed to have grown a bit by the time the band took the stage. The Big Pink officially list two members, that would be Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell. To pull off their sound live they bring Akiko Matsuura and Adam Prendergast into the mix. Employing a heavy synth and guitar combo with a drum machine beat that can be very catchy and on occasion, move one to dance. A bit surprising considering the shoegaze pinnings of some of their more down tempo numbers. The crowd greeted the band enthusiastically and they seemed to be having a great time on stage.

Their set maintained a nice balance between up tempo tracks and the slower show gaze introspective stuff. I didn’t care for the slow tempo of the song they selected prior to ‘making it count’ closing out with the up-tempo super catchy single Domino. Everyone certainly seemed to enjoy the show as much as I did and I know the crowd certainly wanted more but would have to wait until another time.

I give the show 3“old men mowing lawns” out of 5

By John Coovert

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