Live Show Review: A Place To Bury Strangers
Pub Rock Live is a pretty inconspicuous bar located in a sleepy Scottsdale marketplace. Passersby normally wouldn’t think about crowds of music fans from all genres gathering into the small venue to have their heads pumped full of noise. But that’s exactly what happened when A Place to Bury Strangers came into town this past Tuesday. Allegedly New York’s loudest band, the shoegaze-infused no wave/post-punk trio brought their arsenal of abrasive, cacophonous waves of scathing sound into the rock n’ roll bar to fry the eardrums of anybody brave enough to walk in through the door.
The show, supported by opening act Creepoid, was the latest installment in their tour to promote the latest Strangers album Transfixiation. Each record produced by the band since their 2007 debut has been bristling with calculated chaos—echoing booms of fuzzy bass and guitar, undercut by blasts of percussion. Beneath the mayhem has always been a keen sense of melody akin to the spooky post-punk of Bauhaus and The Cure, shaded in with the wailing drone of The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. The live interpretation of this brand of manic composition mirrors the audio recordings in a way that only exhaustive hours of rehearsal could have cultivated, right down to the last guitar smash.
A Place to Bury Strangers hit the Pub Rock Live stage in a flurry of blinking, disorienting lights that stayed with them all through their set. Singer and guitarist Oliver Ackerman and bassist Dion Lunadon flailed their instruments wildly around the tiny stage, battering them against the floor and grinding them against amps. The precision with which they conducted their mayhem made it seem as though they cultivate a studio environment in the exact same way, capturing every moment of unhinged aggression and thrashing movement.
The show culminated with Ackerman, Lunadon, and new drummer Robi Gonzales standing in the middle of the stage to perform songs as they manipulated controllers and drum machines. Jarring lasers of blue and red scanned the audience back and forth, up and down, as smoke filled the stage. What was once a disorienting onslaught of flashing whites had mellowed to a slow, dark burn that carried the same anxious and sinister undercurrent.
The stage presence of A Place to Bury Strangers is the embodiment of their music’s atmosphere. All three members have impeccable command of the sonic pyrotechnics they create, peering over the edge of total self-destruction but never entirely letting go of control. If they had let all hell break loose, Pub Rock Live would no longer be standing.