Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slint at El Rey - August 22, 2014

I can't really say where my anticipation level was for this show, yet I remembered how much I was surprised and pleased at their 2007 concert when Slint went out on a very select tour, reuniting 15 years after originally disbanding in 1992. They played their 'already-classic' 1991 album Spiderland front to back at only a few dates in Europe, America and Canada, landing at The Fonda Theatre on July 23rd, 2007. I learned about them through Pinback, who often sited them as one of their major influences, purchased the Spiderland album and quickly picked up on the similarities. Although Pinback take the style in a more tuneful direction, the references are striking and both explore a dark and the dour melancholy which gives both bands their trademark sad beauty.

When they launched into "Breadcrumb Trail" for their second song, I sensed we were heading in a Spiderland direction. Considering they only ever released two albums, I guess that's understandable, nevertheless, it thrilled all of us. Continuing with "Nosferatu Man" and "Don, Aman", the intense trance state was heightened by the sheer beauty of the music that grips one in a communal bond with other audience members. So beautiful in fact that you could feel waves of ecstasy coming from the crowd. Contrasted with the lyrics that explore dark and troubling realms, the effect is one of introspection and reflection.

Slint fans elevate the activity of head-bobbing to an art form. Looking out over the crowd at the packed El Rey was to observe the full range of head-bobbing styles. I only saw one person engaged in that (to me) odd habit of raising one's had over one's head and jabbing a finger toward the band on the downbeat. That's far too much activity and distraction for the true slo-core, shoe gaze fan, whose full focus is on the music at hand.

Slint has taught me not only lots of back history of early indie rock, they have taught me a lot about fans of this music and the seriousness of their devotion. The intense concentration combined with the euphoria make a palpable environment that is tough to shake, creating a memorable concert experience and a valuable music history lesson as well.


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