Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Edinburgh Playhouse August 10th 2016
Yet another trip through to Edinburgh for a gig and also the first time since Neil Young 8 years ago I’ve been to the Playhouse. It’s a shame it has become the venue for ‘shows’ rather than bands as it is real old school and retains a charm few venues have these days. Tonight’s show was part of the Edinburgh Fringe programme and I’ll be returning to this venue in a few weeks to see Mogwai and hopefully my hearing will have returned.
Tonight though it was Godspeed You! Black Emperor who played their brand of post-rock, experimental rock, instrumental rock or whatever genre you want to place them in. I’m a relatively recent convert to the GYBE camp. They appeared on my radar not long after Mogwai but two bands who I wish had I had heard of a lot sooner.
Having battled traffic to get through from Glasgow I was sure I would miss the beginning of the show but luck was with me as the gig started almost as soon as I sat down. GYBE aren’t your normal band. On stage they consist of 3 guitarists, 2 bass players, 2 drummers and a violinist and they all amble onto the stage at various points of the first piece of music and create an almighty racket. GYBE play loud, very loud. They play in almost complete darkness, they have a screen behind showing films that don’t really show anything much, some footage of buildings, trains etc. they form a semi circle round the stage with no one in the middle and the guitarist in front of me was sitting down with his back to the audience, they don’t interact with the crowd apart from a half hearted farewell wave from a few members at the end as they troop off one by one, it’s odd but it works.
It’s an aural assault on your senses, their music makes you anxious, uneasy, on edge, euphoric. It’s a heady mix and you don’t get to relax at a GYBE show. The music builds and builds until at times you feel as if all 8 members are playing different tunes before it all comes back together creating a massive wall of sound before slowly dying away leaving you feeling slightly violated. Unlike most bands I go and see I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the musicians on stage or indeed any of the pieces of music they played although I did recognise the music. I think though that is part of the whole experience, at least for me. I’m sure plenty of folk know the titles and who the band are though. It’s fairly challenging music that over 1hr and 45 mins leaves you feeling quite drained.
I loved it.
It was probably the loudest gig I’ve been to this year at least it will be until Mogwai probably.