bright light ! gigs

mogwai @ teatro francisco nunes, belo horizonte, brazil 17/05/2002


  • mogwai fear satan
  • you don't know jesus
  • hunted by a freak
  • christmas steps
  • cody
  • golden porsche
  • yes! i am a long way from home
  • helicon 1
  • 2 rights make 1 wrong
  • my father my king

    thanks to andre czarnobai and matheus corra

    eletronika festival.

    photos - a couple of pictures


    from andre czarnobai:

    on may 17, i travelled about six hours on three different planes just to get to see a mogwai gig in brazilian ground. they would play at so paulo and rio de janeiro, both cities closer to me than belo horizonte (i live in porto alegre, downsouth brasil, near uruguay). but then, as usual, there was some problems: the gigs at so paulo were in the middle of the week (wednesday and thursday), which made them an impossible mission for a working-slave like myself. the problem with rio de janeiro is that the gig was gonna happen on a saturday, and - as sad as it is - i work on saturdays. so, the only way for me to see a mogwai gig was to skip work on friday (which is a pretty weak day) and fly the whole day crossing half the country in gol company planes, which is almost the same as travelling by bus - only faster.

    this belo horizonte gig was to be in a theatre named 'francisco nunes', as one of the main atractions of a festival called "eletronika", a three-day-mega-event dedicated to electronic music and "new musical tendencies" - or at least they said so. other artists such as kruder & dorfmeister, rainer trby, dj marky and kid loco were amongst the stars that would play that weekend. actually, loco performed some 2 hours before mogwai and in the crowd there were rumours that the band would do something with him - which, of course, turned out to be just a rumour, really.

    about 23h, mogwai got on the stage. the structure of the place was pretty strange, a huge space at least two floors high. the first one was like a dancefloor, pretty close to the band. you could watch the whole thing less than a meter away from them. the second floor was like a first big step to a huge piramid-like stair, in which tons of people lay down to watch the gig comfortably. the sound in there was really well adjusted: the lows, the his and the mids were perfectly distinguished, clear like crystal. you could hear everything without clashing sounds or any bad noise disturbing things. by this time i kinda figured out that this thing couldn't be even regular: it had to be great.

    the band members all came on stage at once. they were all out there warming up, then stuart started to play some weird chords on his guitar, staring at the crowd with a non-friendly, almost psycho face. 'mogwai fear satan' kicked in, opening the gig. the hard part made some people bang their heads, but when barry started to play the flute, a bizarre scene took place: the theater was insanely loaded and some misplaced clubbers right on my side started to scream nonsense like "i wanna hear your voice, stuart!" instead of standing there and just listening to it. actually, at some points, the crowd screams were louder than the music itself.

    later, on 'cody', it was even more bizarre. the band was sounding pretty loud by now, but the crowd's sing-a-long on that one almost faded out stuart's voice, specially on the chorus. but i got no problem with that. the problem is the crowd just wouldn't stop chatting during the softer moments of the show. it was unbelieveable. i talked to martin after the gig and he told me they thought this gig had been a real strange one. he was personally surprised by two things:
    1) the people wouldn't stop chatting
    2) no one left.

    ok, neither 1 nor 2 is entirely true: after 'christmas steps' the sound became progressively louder and louder, forcing the crowd to shut up and get hypnotized by the walls of rage, noise and distortion that came from the speakers. by this time, my teeth shook every time the lower sounds were played. my clothes and my chest rumbled like hell. it was absolutely a physically intense experience, which made some people leave the theater in order to escape from total and inevitable deafness, which confirms that 2 wasn't entirely true as well. then again, very few people left - there were some true fans in the crowd that night.

    since mogwai had played different setlists at the gigs in so paulo, i hoped they would have surprises for me - personal favourites such as 'may nothing but happiness come through your door', 'waltz for aidan', 'chocky', or my favorite of all time, 'summer'. but no: they went 'helicon 1's beautiful way. they went '2 rights make 1 wrong's barry vocodered way. 'you don t know jesus's charming way. ok, you got the picture.

    they also played for the first time some new music from the next mogwai s album, to be recorded slowly through this year. to be honest, i can t really remember those ones. i do remember that they were downbeat songs, cold slow melodies. but i'm just guessing, really. i can't quite remember the new songs. period. by this time i felt the massive wall of noite bashing thru people like a windstorm. on the stage, the insanely fucking loudest piece of music that i've ever heard: '2 rights make 1 wrong', live.

    but the distortion levels were really pushed to the limit when they started to play 'my father my king', the 20-minute epic based on a jewish traditional song that led the mass through a collective trance. this one was so loud, so incredibly fucking loud that several people had to tap the ears whith cigarette filters, cotton balls and other mysterious devices. you could see the sound-engineer throwing the volumes through the roof, and the scaring look on stuart's face replaced by occasional smiles and glances at the ceiling. the crowd was now completely petrified. no one was moving. it looked like the end of the world. as a matter of fact, if armaggedom havd an original soundtrack, i think this one would be adequate. i read that expression once about iggy pop's raw power.

    by this time barry wasn't smiling anymore. actually, no one on the stage was: they were all so focused, so concentrated and yet so calm you could almost doubt that those crazy scottish were making such fucking loud music! after some 15 minutes of greater and greater levels of volume and distortion, they decided to get down to the real core. stuart and barry devoted themselves in twitching the knobs of the pedals like synths, creating some of the most bizarre sound impressions known to mankind.

    then you know the deal: stuart started to clip his guitar strings off, martin and john started to hit them pedals like crazy and dominic stuck his bass on the speaker to create the ultimate wall of annoying evil noise from hell. stuart then stuck his guitar on top of dominic's bass, smiled, raised his arm up and took a picture of the crowd before disappearing on the backstage, leaving all that noise behind.

    the speakers kept buzzing for a minute or two, and i could see the exact moment the engineer turned off everything: precise like a clock. the crowd went nuts, screaming like hell for the next 2 minutes to an empty stage. for the next day or two i've heard that fucking high-pitched noise (which a doctor would call tinitus) and, as a matter of fact, i still do. in a lighter way, of course, but it is still there, ringing. anyway, the people had different opinions about it: some of them liked it, some of them hated it. no one i found said that the gig was "normal", "common" or "so-so", which means that mogwai did affect everyone, after all.

    for the next hour or two, martin, stuart and barry talked to the fans. i barely saw john and dominic, but they were there later on, too. martin thought i was mad because i flew six hours just to hear them and then he told me that they didn't play 'summer' anymore cause "it's fucking cheesy". too bad for me. but i don't really mind at all: i was satisfied. my ears were raped by this sonorous rage, my mind was kinda numb for a couple of hours and my body still shook little shakes, which is a pretty weird thing to feel. no big deal. nothing that couldn t be cured with some beer later on.