A Place To Bury Strangers
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- The Harley, Sheffield »
There's something to be said when the first visible signage on entering a venue reads "Ear Plugs Are Available" in big, bold letters above the bar. Look around the room, and several more signs adorn walls and pillars from back to front. But perhaps, most importantly, it speaks volumes (if you'll pardon the pun) that the headline band themselves are selling their own logo-endorsed brand, along with the usual merchandising fare of t-shirts, hoodies and vinyls.
If you hadn't already guessed, A Place To Bury Strangers are in town, and judging by the startled expressions on the faces of the Harley's bar staff, their soundcheck has already left a lasting impression. Having spent the past couple of years re-evaluating the band's sound and line-up accordingly, Oliver Ackermann's brutally cathartic vignettes were greeted like prodigal sons when third long player Worship dropped at the end of June. Although not as immediate as either of its predecessors, their unique brand of unapologetically excessive noise channeled through a multitude of personally constructed electronics and pedal devices made for a welcome change from your average run-of-the-mill Topshop indie.
First up however are local outfit Collider, who may originate from the industrial ruins of South Yorkshire but whose sounds are more in tune with late eighties Massachusetts or the recent ramblings down in Cleveland, Ohio. One song reminds us of Cloud Nothings at their aggressive (i.e. Attack On Memory) best. Another could be Dinosaur Jr. as they steadily find their feet, traversing You're Living All Over Me's rocky terrain into the more salubrious confines of Bug. Of course we're probably over comparing here, particularly as Collider are essentially a brand new project busily finding their own feet rather than worrying about treading on anybody else's. Part of the city's Tye Dye Tapes collective responsible for putting out excellent releases this year from the likes of Blood Sport and Slowcoaches, their set is an encouraging blend of old school slacker rock laced with a modern lo-fi aesthetic that can only bode well for the future. Watch this space.
Having waited over two years for a UK visit from A Place To Bury Strangers, the Brooklyn three-piece have honoured us with their second visit in just four months. While all eyes seem to be fixed on frontman Ackermann, it's the recently acquired rhythm section of Dion Lunadon and Robi Gonzalez that steal the early plaudits. Opener 'You Are The One' careers and cajoles courtesy of Lunadon's driving bassline, while the decision to promote traditional closer 'I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart' to the second slot in this evening's set only serves to highlight the band's panache for elegantly switching between Teutonic groove and abstract modes at the drop of a hat.
With tonight's performance focusing heavily on Worship material, it provides ample opportunity for the doubters to reassess that record's potential, and by the end there are only three winners and all are on stage. 'Dissolved' could be the mid-point between Trent Reznor's rabid industrialism and the laconic doom rock of Bauhaus while 'Mind Control' adds haunting melody to the list of facets A Place To Bury Strangers can boast as having mastered accordingly. The more familiar strains of 'Dead Beat' wash briskly into 'So Far Away''s seismic rattle, 'Onwards To The Wall' following almost immediately. An explosive take on 'Ocean' represents the only song aired this evening from their self-titled debut, its vitriolic ending giving way to ten minutes of excessive white noise before the show dissolves into a natural end.
You could say tonight was a case of business as usual but then such a random aside would only be doing A Place To Bury Strangers a haughty disservice. Instead, let's celebrate their wares for the short time they're over here gracing us with their presence. After all, one never knows just what's around the corner...
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