bright light ! gigs

mogwai @ el rey theatre, los angeles, ca 18/03/2001


  • sinewave
  • cody
  • you don't know jesus
  • xmas steps
  • stanley kubrick
  • small children in the background
  • helicon 2
  • helicon 1
  • secret pint
  • 2 rights make 1 wrong


  • jewish hymn

    thanks to richard lewis, who also added:
    best quote of the evening from stuart after the show, "was it loud enough? we were worried that it wouldn't be loud enough."

    preview from the 'new times la'

    recently in london, while djing at the hip social bar, mogwai's stuart braithwaite spent part of the evening patrolling the room, proclaiming love's forever changes one of the greatest albums ever made. anyone who didn't agree...well, supposedly heated words were passed and the threat of fisticuffs was not far behind.

    no doubt this episode can be partially attributed to the odd ale or two, and to some famous scottish belligerence, but it's also evidence of the all-encompassing passion that braithwaite and mogwaibring to their music. everything is black and white -- there are no gray areas. this intensity comes through in their records, and particularly their live shows, where it is not uncommon to see braithwaite writhing about the stage, or thrusting his guitar against the amplifier to generate every possible shred of screaming noise.

    in mogwai'sworld, the spirit of forever changes and the beach boys' pet sounds hangs heavy. maybe not in sing-along harmonies, but with the lack of boundaries, the experimentation that goes into the music. mogwaimay tread familiar territory, but at the same time they take you one step over the edge. think slint, but more epic; low, but more obtuse; godspeed you black emperor, but more earthy.

    this week's show is the first chance to sample tracks from mogwai'snew album, rock action, due in april. working again with producer dave fridmann (also behind the flaming lips and mercury rev's recent sonic symphonies), the band have created their most concise and accomplished work yet. from the welsh vocals by super furry animals' gruff rhys on "dial: revenge" to the eight-minute epic "you don't know jesus," rock action really is (to use stuart's words) "spastic magic." like all mogwai's performances, this one guarantees to be both thrilling and obtuse. but remember, if you're not a fan of forever changes, you'd best keep it a secret.

    by jason reynolds

    visit the website

    thanks to tom sparkle astroman

    reader reviews

    from richard lewis:

    "was it loud enough? we were afraid it wouldn't be loud enough."

    or so guitarist stuart braithwaite worried when i talked to him briefly after the show. having seen the mostly instrumental scottish band mogwai twice now in a live venue, i think it's finally dawned on me why it's important that the band's shows be so phenomenally loud.

    mogwai understand musical dynamics and tension. and through volume, their music is told as physical experience. it comes down to the difference between intellectualizing about something and fully undergoing it physically.

    it's one thing to wax poetic about, say, the composer antheil and his conceptual modernism for including airplane engines in his ballet mechanique. it's another thing entirely to stand with your hair permanently flattened against your scalp as the blast from a jet engine flings you like a ragdoll down the runway.

    there is a precision and a wildness in mogwai as placid and dangerous as gunmetal grey. listening to a song like "christmas steps" from their album 'come on die young' (editor's note: apparently a handy phrase to yell at an assailant if you're about to get in a fight in scotland) is a very safe experience when you're at home and in control of the volume knob and the pause button.

    translated to a live venue, you lose that control. you're lulled into a false sense of calmness by the near-casual noodling warmth as the opening guitar tones cook around you. you begin breathing more rapidly, more heavily as the thick, ominous bass line skewers you as simply as john williams's famous theme from the movie 'jaws'. you become momentarily disoriented when the quickening, thudding bass shatters into fractured rhythm and flinch you're startled by feedback so loud that it rattles your teeth, rearranges your inner organs, and loosens your joints with sound.

    when you know to expect the intensity, it's fascinating to watch the reaction of those around you in the audience. the response to mogwai live is far more deeply physical than mental. it is almost a primal response. and perhaps that explains the story i've heard going around concerning an early mogwai show in glasgow in which two concertgoers were so overcome with mogwai's sonic power that they were caught, er, shagging in the back of the venue.

    there was no shagging to be seen among the sold-out crowd at the el rey theatre this night. but judging from the expressions on the faces of the crowd standing behind me during the encore as the simple melody of the adapted jewish hymn alvainu malkanu gradually built hypnotically, repetitively into such roaring waves that the bodies in the room were shaken like instruments for nearly 20 minutes, ecstasy was achieved nonetheless.

    don't worry, stuart. it was loud enough.