Words by: Andrew Bruss | Images by: Julian Furtak
Mogwai :: 05.01.09 :: Wilbur Theatre :: Boston, MA
Mogwai's performance at Boston's Wilbur Theatre gave fans a solid set of tunes that leaned heavily on their latest release, 2008's The Hawk Is Howling. For those in the crowd who consider themselves long-time Mogwai fans, the show was everything their hearts could have desired. But for anyone less enthusiastic about the mostly instrumental Scottish post-rock act, the set was unlikely to have created new fans.
Set opener "The Precipice" started off slow and mellow, as the intensity gradually built to a crescendo. Interestingly enough, the pace of the tune didn't pick up as the song moved forward, rather the intensity stemmed from the growth of the song's volume. Like their post-rock brethren, these guys like to play loud, and one of their three guitarists putting his duel Marshall amp stacks into overdrive added another layer of distortion over the multifaceted sound they'd spent about five minutes or so building up.
As their set moved forward, you could see how influential Mogwai has been on fellow instrumental acts like Explosions In The Sky. The tunes flowing over the crowd from the stage fluctuated from sweet and somber to dramatic and intense, evoking the feeling that you were hearing the score of a backseat teenage romance that moments later drove off a cliff.
Mogwai are often clumped into the shoegaze genre and for good reason. As the band worked to bring the mood onstage into the audience, they consistently swayed back and forth, eyes locked on their instruments and feet, rarely looking up at the crowd. Compared to other acts that have been given the shoegaze stamp, they proved to be less performance-oriented than the eardrum-abusing Dinosaur Jr. but far more stimulating onstage than post-grunge indie heroes Built To Spill.
The band moved through more Hawk-era tunes like "Batcat" and "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead," and as hyper-engaged as the majority of the crowd seemed, everyone in anything less than a trance seemed simply bored. The majority of ticket holders got their money's worth, but if you weren't a hard core fan and set out to simply see something new, odds are you had your fill after 45 minutes. This was more of a set for someone smoking lots of weed rather than someone who'd been snorting coke (which certainly isn't a bad thing). But in the right mindset, Mogwai likely ripped you open and had you crying for more. Yet for those of us whose thirst for instrumental mood music had been quenched early on, a little bit of an auditory amphetamine boost would have been more than welcome.
Mogwai is on tour now, dates available here.
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