bright light ! gigs

mogwai @ the vic, chicago il 31/05/2001


  • big e
  • ithica 27o9
  • ex-cowboy
  • xmas steps
  • you don't know jesus
  • d to e
  • helicon 1
  • 2 rights make 1 wrong
  • mogwai fear satan


  • secret pint
  • jewish hymn

    thanks to michael kaczmer

    support from bardo pond


    from michael kaczmer:

    i cannot be 100% sure that it was 'big e' played first, since i've never heard the song in my life, but 'd to e', the song that is on the tour ep, is the same damn song as 'untitled' off the japanese version of "rock action", albeit with some extra orchestral/violin elements thrown in.

    after a so-so set from bardo pond, mogwai took the stage at around 9:30 or so, with stuart decked out in a black batman t-shirt and martin sporting what appeared (from my vantage point) a close cropped mohawk. anyway, they started things off with a brand new song, which i'm assuming was 'big e'. it's a very, very good song... kind of slow at first, with a really cool guitar line that builds slowly until it gets pretty loud towards the end of the song. i guess i could say it kind of reminded me of 'hugh dallas' in it's texture, if that makes any sense. 'ithica 27o9' followed, a song that i'd yet to hear 'em play live the previous 2 times i saw 'em. this one knocked the audience out, really blowing up at the loud part. it seemed to me like the band wanted to just rip the roof off the place with the first half of songs, with 'ex-cowboy', 'xmas steps', and 'you don't know jesus' all coming next. while 'big e' might not be considered one of the "big rock" songs mogwai is more known for, it did lead nicely into the killer trifecta of 'ithica', 'xmas' & 'cowboy'. by the way, this was the best they have played 'xmas steps' of the 3 times i've seen them live. to me, it seemed that the transition form the soft part to the loud bit always sounded strained a tad, but tonight it was flawless. the next tune was 'd to e', which is the same damn song 'untitled' off the japanese version of "rock action". well, okay, the version on the tour ep sounds slightly different, with a bit more orchestral-sounding bits in the background, but when i was there live, i was thinking it was 'untitled'. next, my favorite mogwai song ever - 'helicon 1'. this song never fails to blow me away. '2 rights make 1 wrong' was up next, followed by 'mogwai fear satan'. the 2 lead nicely into each other, with the noisy electronic sounds at the end of '2 rights' drawing out to a nice drone that slowly, with each member coming in, became 'satan'. i didn't really like their performance of 'satan' the first time i saw them live, but here it was brilliant. at the soft part, barry played his flute (though at first he wasn't getting anything to come through the microphone). this lulled the audience into a false sense of security though, as even though anyone who knows the song knows the big loud part coming up, but here - live - it was amazing. i don't think i've ever heard anything just explode like that, so sudden and so frightening. it was earth-shattering!

    after a short little break backstage, they came back out to do 'secret pint' which had a bit of a different flavor to it, with barry adding some more electronic-like sounds to the background. it almost reminded me of 'helicon 1' a bit, the way the backing part was sounding. by the way, for those keeping score, yes... that was the first time stuart sang the whole night. he was actually very quiet the whole night, not really opening up to the crowd. the set and the night ended with 'jewish hymn', and it didn't fail to literally destroy the audience. i've never seen so many people cover their ears. the ground club was shaking at it's core, literally. i'd liken it to sticking your head into a jet engine that was going full blast. at the end, they just had the loudest, most ear-splitting drone/buzz sounds going... it was unreal. and then, stuart "sang" some more... if you want to call it singing. it was more of a satanic screaming fit!

    all in all, they played for around an hour and 40 minutes. this was the best i've ever seen the band play (even though i am aware it was only the 3rd time i've seen them live). maybe the fact that stuart didn't need to worry about singing until the encore that made the band that much tighter, i don't know, but it was absolutely amazing. the loudst show i have been to in a long, long time... my head was aching for a few hours afterwards, and i was in the back of the club!

    from john mahoney:

    after seeing mogwai for the first time about a month ago, i thought i would be hard-pressed to see a show any better. but mogwai themselves have improved on it; improved it immensely.

    the vic theatre is quite like the metro, and in the same part of chicago. we started waiting about an hour before the doors opened; hearing them soundcheck christmas steps and saying hi to barry who came out. once again, the mogwai heaven on wheels was parked right in front of the venue.

    once in, i picked up a few of the tour eps and took a space directly front and center. as the venue slowly filled, we said hi to stuart as well who was wandering inside. no one else seemed to notice him. bardo pond played an interesting, very indie set, mixing droning repetition with harder rock and flute. i had a good time watching them, which i couldn't say about parlor at the last show. after bardo's set, the now-familiar mogwai roadie team were tuning and preparing the now-familiar mogwai equipment, also being careful to place and pour two lagers at every musician's post.

    the band came on and played a new song "big e" while sitting down. i liked it, remembering only the short snare roll just like in stanley kubrick. following that was ithica, which i was extremely glad to hear; it's probably my favourite old song. ithica started a trend for the evening; every song played (except for the new ones and secret pint) had at least one moment of blinding noise.

    they could not have made a better setlist for my hard-rocking mood of late. all of the noisies were there: christmas steps, mogwai fear satan, you don't know jesus, helicon 1. mogwai fear satan was incredible, and words cannot describe how happy i was to hear it. the moment after the flute part when everyone steps on their pedals and the sound just explodes was probably one of the finest moments i have ever experienced at a concert; i could feel my hair vibrating.

    overall, the sound at the vic seemed much louder than the previous show at the metro. i never really experienced pain at the metro, which i did a few times at the vic. jewish hymn was in better form as well, sounding completely incredible, and featuring stuart yelling unintelligibly through the mic during the "wall of feedback" ending.

    some things: avoiding eye contact with the setlists, which were posted everywhere in easy line of sight: i didn't want to spoil it. i did notice d.e. and big e on them at the beginning, so i was anticipating new stuff from the start. the intro; an american fellow who we saw wandering around at the beginning came on to give an 80's arena rock style intro, requesting more noise, declaring mogwai the hardest rocking band in glasgow, and preaching the band's admiration for celtic. i could see the guys laughing off to the side of the stage, so i assume he was a friend of the band. stuart's sweet batman shirt. john playing a 12-string for a few tunes.

    so if you only went to one mogwai show in chicago recently, i hope this was the one. it was unbelievable

    from ben kane:

    the most amazing thing i've ever seen/heard. i am changed forever. the noise was unlike anything i've ever heard. i got the best headache afterward. (i really did enjoy it). i can't quite remember the set list but highlights were ithaca 27o9 and ex-cowboy back to back. i was literally shaking when they finished that pair. x-mas steps was another blistering rock assult. 2 rights... was the closer. stunningly beautiful and much noisier than the record. then came the encore.... secret pint and jewish hymn. stuart sang beautifully and seemed almost nervous while he was singing. jewish hymn sounded almost evil. the noise toward the end was so piercing that some of the more delicate ears moved back in the venue. stuart began grinding his telecaster into his cabinets in a violent manner. totally amazing. he then left resting against them and dove for the pedals. him and barry went off. john detuned all his strings until they flapping off his guitar. dominic left his bass on the monitor to roar. john placed his guitar on top of it, which turned it to a scream. finally, stuart raised his glass to chicago and walked off. i was speechless for the next ten minutes. simply amazing. yes, i am a dork for mogwai.