A Place to Bury Strangers

support zZz
author BV date 28/04/15 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s been a while since I’ve ventured out to Amager for a show. It’s fairly strange to be honest, seeing as both Amager Bio and BETA usually host a pretty wide array of shows that usually pique my interest and have continued to do so, with me being tempted to go elsewhere in the meantime as the supply of interesting gigs has skyrocketed for me, personally, this winter and spring. I did, however, finally manage to convince myself that the trip to BETA on this particularly Tuesday night would be well worth it, seeing as the notorious noise-rock purveyors A Place to Bury Strangers were stopping by for a gig. One fairly brisk bike ride later, I once again found myself in the familiar, cozy surroundings of BETA.

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

zZz

The supporting act of the night was an entirely new thing for me. Having been so wrapped up in everything but checking out music, I barely had the time to even give the band a listen before venturing out see them – something that could either prove utterly beneficial or quite horrific depending on one’s outlook. As the two-piece first went on stage I was pleasantly surprised to see them only utilizing drums, vocals and a wide array of organs and synthesizers to create a slightly prog-infused sound that occasionally sounded like psychedelic disco with harsh vocals when the usage of the hi-hat was at its most prominent. It’s a coupling I have something of a soft spot for, to be honest, so it didn’t really surprise me that much when their first barrage of fairly up-tempo songs hit me straight in the face at a volume so high that I wished I’d remembered my earplugs. Aside from the overtly bass-heavy mix, the sound did a fairly good job of beefing up the two-piece’s sound to the extent that, if you weren’t in the room, you’d probably not realize they were only two dudes going at it. As time went on, however, things slowly turned fairly monotonous as the drum-beat remained identical in almost every single song with only minor variations added in tempo and usage (or non-usage) of the hi-hat. It’s to be expected, to a certain degree, but it also lessened the experience a bit as time passed. Nonetheless I wouldn’t mind seeing the band again in a supporting capacity. I’m just not sure I’d actively seek them out.

A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers would, however, prove themselves to be all but monotonous throughout their set. From the dimming of the room, resulting in strange projections on the ceiling, to the utter barrage of cacophony from stage everything seemed planned out in excruciating detail – that is, until the band actually started performing. Having garnered something of a reputation for unpredictability, it was evident that most of the crowd members seemed very aware of their surroundings from the get-go – almost as if some of them were scouting possible escape routes for when the show would take off. From the first chord struck in show-opener “We’ve Come So Far”, guitarist/vocalist Oliver Ackermann displayed himself as being an utterly captivating front-man in spite of his relatively introverted behavior on stage. Few words, if any, were uttered in between songs so as to create a complete audio-visual experience largely dependent on projections, darkness, fuzzy-as-hell instrumentation and utterly random oscillations from the equipment. Throughout the following tracks, “I’m So Clean” and “Supermaster” it became fairly evident that the beginning of the set had a fixed focus on their most recent release, “Transfixiation”, and fortunately it had a surprisingly positive outcome.

Reception of the album has been relatively mixed as far as I can tell, but throughout this particular Tuesday night A Place to Bury Strangers proved that these particular songs are well worth listening to, and experiencing, in the live setting where you can be completely absorbed by everything going on around you. As the captivating performance worked towards its inevitable end, the band went all out and performed on the floor surrounded by the crowd, as if they had descended into the very bowels of the beast they were trying to create with their walls of cacophonic, yet strangely catchy sounds. Throughout the latter half of the show, bass-player Dion Lunadon and drummer Robi Gonzalez proved that they were no less important to the complete soundscape than the strange oscillations and hacksaw fuzz sounds of guitarist Oliver Ackermann, adding their fair share of grit, randomness and destruction to an already booming soundscape. By providing one of dirtiest, if not the dirtiest bass sounds I’ve ever heard they completely blew me away and briefly made me realize just how much grit a fucked up bass sound can add to this particular style of music. Apart from their various antics – whether sonic or performance-based – it remained abundantly clear that A Place to Bury Strangers live for their live performances. Say what you will about their recorded output and its limited appeal, but I’d wager that more than a few of the naysayers would be convinced of their prowess by seeing them live. I know my appreciation of their work just grew quite a bit, at least.

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