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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MOG/WAR: THE AUDIO-SWOON

Words by Corin Arenas
Photos by Karen De La Fuente

It is difficult to measure how exhilarating it is to finally watch one of the most awaited rock artists perform live, especially when you’ve always thought flying to another country was the only way that could happen.

February 13 marked a first in Manila concert scene history, as Scottish post-rock legend Mogwai and American indie rock sirens Warpaint finally touched base in the Philippines. Crowds came as early as 6:00pm at Metrotent, Ortigas for a chance to meet the bands. By the time the concert doors opened, everyone was eager and ready for the eargasm they have long waited for.
Local indie artist Eyedress opened the night with chill-beats that certainly got the crowd’s attention. The artist’s eclectic and catchy arrangement, matched with slurry, almost haunting icy vocals, and trippy electronic synths were fair enough to set the right mood for the evening. Amused with the performance, old and new listeners took a new appreciation for this diverse genre.

But nothing could prepare fans as Warpaint took over the concert hall with their valiant yet unassuming stage presence. Laid-back and comfortable in their own skins, they graced the stage like it was their home. Emily Kokal entranced the crowd with her coolly modulated voice, as Theresa Wayman and Jenny Lee Lindberg tore through their guitars with defining riffs, and Stella Mozgawa killed it on the drums. It’s always a treat for concert-goers when these bands show-off unique antics on stage. They move and dance just the way their music sounds. While we know they take their music very seriously, they don’t forget to have fun during performances.

The band served up new tracks from their latest self-titled album like “Love is to Die,” as well as songs from their older records like “Undertow” and “Elephants.” Our hearts flipped a little when Theresa sang lead vocals for “Hi,” her lithe figure moving with the song’s haunting base riffs. They stirred the audience with their version of “Dreams” (originally performed by Fleetwood Mac) mashed-up with their hit single “Undertow.”

Warpaint’s music and energy is quirky and spontaneous, at times noir, sensuous and permeating—the crowd gets a sense these rock vixens were not merely putting on just another show. This is the type of band that wants to make a connection to listeners, and I’m certain it was felt all the way to the end of the hall. Experiencing their performance live is one for the books; Warpaint creates music with authentic life-force.

Most of us were still reveling from Warpaint; we couldn’t get over their performance. But we couldn’t believe the night wasn’t over either—when finally, Mogwai took the stage.

Touring for over 15 years, the band has no need for any visually ornamental theatrics. We knew their music would speak for itself. And yet, we remained in awe because we honestly didn’t know what to expect from a live Mogwai performance. They made a quiet entrance with the song “Heard About You Last Night,” the first track from their latest album “Rave Tapes.” Crowds grew thicker, and thrilled raves could be heard all across the concert hall as the band catered to our auditory pleasure. Aside from playing tracks from their latest album, the band also played tracks from old albums. These include songs like “Summer / Ithica 27ø9” (B-side release, 1996), “Fear Satan,” “Helicon 1,” “Travel is Dangerous,” “The Lord is Out of Control,” and “Friend of the Night,” among others.

Mogwai is well-known for its trademark bass riffs that are sometimes dark and amorous, other times ambient and dreamy. While they are commonly identified under the post-rock genre, the band hesitates to limit their music with such a label. The majestic quality of their sound is marked by dramatic control of loudness and softness akin to most sensitive and ardent musicians. They have mastered the synchronicity and dynamism of a classical orchestra.

For years, the absence or muffled quality of Mogwai’s lyrics has been the conceit of the band’s craft. No other excerpt better articulates this concept than the opening lines of the song “Yes! I am a Long Way from Home,” (taken from their 1997 album, “Mogwai Young Team”) which the band also played that night. The voice over speaks: “'Cause this music can put a human being in a trance like state and deprive it for the sneaking feeling of existing. 'Cause music is bigger than words and wider than pictures. If someone said that Mogwai are the stars, I would not object. If the stars had a sound it would sound like this. The punishment for these solemn words can be hard. Can blood boil like this at the sound of a noisy tape that I've heard?”

Just when everyone thought it was over, the crowed screamed for more. They delivered a phenomenal encore performance, one that ended with a high note. Watching Mogwai live is without a doubt one of the most sublime sensory raptures an audiophile can ever experience. Listeners should take it from the masters: those who understand that your silences are as valuable as your loud sides certainly know how to make affective connections, and Mogwai does it beautifully with music.

One simply has to close his eyes, feel the bass and rhythm, and ride the vigorous build-up of the drums. It was a night for swooning in music, and we were grateful to be there.


More photos from the event below:

WARPAINT

MOGWAI

Febfest 2014 is presented by Ynos and RandomMinds Production.

Catch The National & Youth Lagoon live on the 2nd leg of Febfest 2014 on February 20, 2014 at Metro Tent Convention Center. Tickets are available at www.ticketworld.com.ph/manilaconcertscene.


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