Friday evening UK shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine took the stage at Austin Music Hall in support of their first studio effort in 25 years. Solo act, New Fumes opened the show. As expected, Kevin Shields and his band played one of the loudest shows in Austin since UK band, Mogwai played Stubb's a few years ago. The band, in effect, dropped a noise bomb. The 17-song set concluded with MBV's trademark "Wall of Sound" finale. The band sustained an intense aural assault for nearly seven minutes with psychedelic visuals flashing on a giant projector screen behind them. While the music sounded great, vocals by Bilinda Butcher were largely drowned out of the mix. The nearly sold-out crowd seemed not to mind the sound issues, standing in front of their noise-rock heros transfixed throughout the performance.
The reclusive act has influenced many artists since forming in Ireland in 1983. My Bloody Valentine attained commercial success after adding Butcher (guitar and vocals) in 1987. 1991 release, "Loveless" is considered their masterpiece. The album is available to stream on Spotify. The set opened with the track, "I Only Said" from the aforementioned album seguing into "When You Sleep" from the same collection. MBV introduced a song from their self-titled album released last February entitled, "New You" next. "You Never Should" from LP "Isn't Anything" followed as the quartet found their groove. As you can see in the setlist at the bottom of the page, the band mixed it up with plenty of older tracks fans came to hear.
Primary songwriter, Shields suffered severe writers block following the success of "Loveless" and the group eventually disbanded in 1997. My Bloody Valentine re-formed in 2007, setting off on U.S., European and International tours after reissues of "Isn't Anything" and "Loveless."
Austin Music Hall as a venue leaves much to be desired as far as music fans are concerned. Sound issues continue to plague the place even after a 2012 renovation improved sound and added balcony and VIP seating. Production values have improved since The Electric Company headed up by Jason Hicks took over management of the venue in association with Omnibank last year. Given a small budget for improvements, Hicks and his team have done what they can to improve the overall concert experience for fans. Examiner will be first to admit it does sound better at AMH than it did in the past.
“As it was, this was not a rock and roll place and it really felt like event planners were working against the setting when they came in here,” Hicks said. “I’m going to run this building and take all comers, because we need to do what’s best to keep this venue alive.” - Jason Hicks to CultureMap Austin
The 4,000 seat venue fills a void for Austin music venues so it continues booking events as it emerges from a foreclosure auction last year. Competing Austin venues do not hold as many fans. Stubb's BBQ crowds max out at around 2600. The Moody Theater (ACL Live) caps at nearly the same amount, 2750 people. Other venues like the Erwin Center and Austin360 Amphitheater hold much larger audiences and generally feature big national tours like Paul McCartney or Jimmy Buffett. Hicks promises more improvements are on the way. Given his track record at Austin Psych Fest, Seaholm Power Plant and other events, we believe him.
Despite the venue shortcomings Examiner was glad to witness a rare My Bloody Valentine performance. The band played Dallas over the weekend and head to Denver on Monday on their American mini-tour concluding in Los Angeles at FYF Fest with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhunter and TV on the Radio before heading back to Europe for more dates.
Grab a copy of the new MBV album on vinyl, CD or download over here.
Remaining MBV U.S. dates:
19 AUG OGDEN THEATRE - DENVER, CO
21 AUG WAMU THEATRE - SEATTLE, WA
23 AUG BILL GRAHAM CIVIC AUDITORIUM - SAN FRANCISCO
25 AUG FYF FESTIVAL - LOS ANGELES
I Only Said
When You Sleep
You Never Should
Cigarette in Your Bed
Come in Alone
Nothing Much to Lose
Who Sees You
To Here Knows When
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise
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