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One of the down sides of living in a second-tier city like Pittsburgh is that while you mostly feel like you live in a city, often times you get passed-over for important touring events like semi-obscure foreign bands.
One of my favorite bands of the last few years is the band Mogwai. They're based in Glasgow, Scotland, so they don't make it to North America very much, let alone out to Pittsburgh. They were here this past Wednesday, though, and we went to see them.
Mogwai is pigeonholed in the genre that is regretably called "post-rock". They play mostly instrumental music, but it's not "prog-rock" like other instrumental favorite Zombi or "art rock" like Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Mogwai plays what is unmistakably rock music, with a punk bend to it and amps turned all the way up. More than one reviewer has called them, "The loudest band on the planet". We brought ear plugs.
That's not to say they're not capable of subtlety. Some of their tracks have haunting, driving melodies and subtle variations worthy of Philip Glass. They've done a couple of soundtracks for films, so clearly some people feel they can be evocative.
The venue was "Mr. Small's Funhouse", a converted church in Millvale, a small town just outside of Pittsburgh. It's a mid-sized venue with excellent acoustics. No seats, though, so we opted to sit up in their "VIP Balcony". There's no "charge" for that, but you're making a commitment to buy food and drink there. So, it's a bit pricey, but it's the only way to sit down. You're up in the choir loft, too, which means you have a great view over the heads of the crowd.
The last ten minutes of the show consist of the band leaving the stage one by one. The last two guitarists to leave wind up putting their guitars down and pretty much just playing with effects pedals for about five minutes. I checked the outside of the church for missing bricks on the way out. Awesome. Just mind-blowingly good.
2011.04.30 at 12:00am EDT
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