Don't Look Back 2007
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- Koko, Camden Town »
- Slint »
Rather cheeringly, the folk at ATP are on a quest to rid Camden's potentially fantastic Koko venue of its many shortcomings. Usually the place where vacuous gimps of the superstar stratosphere play 'intimate' shows or where more-than-shite bands who reach number 45 on the_ NME cool list start out supporting vacuous gimps of the superstar stratosphere, Koko is usually frequented by twats and their followers. And the bass is always, _always too high. Thankfully, ATP continue to organise shows of a potentially much higher calibre to maximise the power of the beautiful architecture and the quite terrifyingly massive disco ball. Slint, performing their landmark Spiderland record in its entirety, are the next in a long and rather excellent line of bands to perform here.
Many people (most of them men, many of them balding) are very excited about seeing Slint perform this work of equal measures considerable beauty and industrially precise might. There are, however, some people who have decided to come just because there's something on at Koko; people who clearly know nothing about what they're watching. It's fine to have a blind musical experience, but I find it hard to believe that the boys in Kappa hoodies wincing at the loud noise often lock themselves in of an evening with Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and have a 'happening'. And yes, I know, stop going on about clientele, you haven't said anything about the band yet, wah wah wah. Here we are, then. When Slint begin 'Breadcrumb Trail', it's a miracle of both balanced noise and impeccable accuracy. It literally sounds exactly like the record, but really loudly. Though it may not seem it, that's definitely a good thing.
Guitarist and spare man for hire Dave Pajo remains motionless and technically faultless throughout – clearly his goal (and that of his band) is not to re-create the live experience of Slint's inception, but to place the record’s aesthetics at the forefront. The fact that it’s being played live and loud is of no real consequence; it's simply a different way to experience a good album. The most charged moment for such a reflexive performance is, undoubtedly, the clanging sadness and uncertainty of 'Washer'. The interrelations between the two guitar parts is still captivating and a pleasure to absorb, while the power of its climax is possibly the only moment we see Slint detach themselves from the record and perform for performance's sake. It is both comforting and unsettling to watch.
Now, I hate to return to the issue of dick-headed clientele, but one particular fellow is making a nuisance of himself. I understand that the reality of silence at a gig is rather redundant (except at the ATP festival proper, it seems), but there really is no need to drunkenly approach audience members and tell them how much you "Faaahkin' Laaaaahv This Song Mate!". We understand, you're enthusiastic. But really, running into people, pushing them about when they're trying to listen and watch? If you loved the songs that much would you have drunken yourself half to death over the last couple of hours? Seriously, don't push people around, even when you're in Camden. It's not fun. Luckily the guy is ejected (and to his credit, he puts up a bloody good fight).
The rapturously received conclusion to the record is followed by several dainty and destructive earlier tracks, which receive similar adulation. There's not even a looser atmosphere now that the serious business of the evening is out of the way. Always clinical, Slint manage to let the dynamism and technical brilliance of their music provide the focus tonight. That’s not to say that there's no expression or heart to Slint this evening, because there is. Rather than letting excitement come from a thrusting stage presence or chucking stuff about, Slint's motionless and purely functional performance moves their show closer to a museum exhibit – and it's no less affecting for that.
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- Don't Look Back 2007 at Koko, Camden Town, Wed 22 Aug