A Place to Bury Strangers - The Deaf Institute, Manchester - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

A Place to Bury Strangers - The Deaf Institute, Manchester

by James Briscoe Rating: Release Date:

The Deaf Institute has three floors. The floor that you immediately face when you walk through the expansive Church-like doors is the groundfloor cafe bar - a relaxed and cosy but trendy place. Above this floor is the upstairs music hall. Walking up the two flights of wooden stairs in to this unusual venue is akin to climbing the stairs to Heaven. Gladly, the gods of music wrote my name unto the list and I was granted a place to see A Place To Bury Strangers, supported by Crocodiles and The Megaphonic Thrift. Was the music on offer heavenly, I hear you ask? Well, patience is a virtue and you will have to wait to find out.

If the venue was holy then the musical seismic waves which A Place To Bury Strangers produced had its focus at the devil's side. First up though, was The Megaphonic Thrift (TMT), presumably inspired by the use of the megaphone. TMT are a Norwegian indie band who are fairly unknown in Britain and this was shown by an almost empty standing area. The Deaf Institute has unusual cinema-like seating at the back of the room though and every seat was taken by those who are afraid of that which they call the Mosh. You know the ones. Probably friends of the band members who only come, because they are obliged to or would rather just sit down to watch, which is fair enough.

Those who did not choose to arrive early enough to see TMT, to my surprise, really missed out. Scandinavian bands have always produced interesting sounds and their use of guitars produces a cool, delicious atmosphere, much like the climate over there. TMT's sound is refreshing after years of the same college rock/ geek chic music. Pretty Linn Frokedal's harmonies make this band seem special and I, for one, will be following them for the foreseeable future.

As the lights were dimmed and the stage lights were creating reflections from the three-foot disco ball, Crocodiles entered the fray. I found Crocodiles somewhat annoying. Like the aforementioned college rock/ geek chic bands, this New York-production-line, Ray-ban-wearing bunch of wannabes made me cringe at their lack of originality and imagination. There are some brilliant bands from New York and Ray-bans can be pretty goddamn awesome but, despite looking a hundred times and looking back again, I could not see anything inspiring or enjoyable about their performance. I might have missed something though, because, lead singer, Charles Rowell's, attempt to dance like Mick Jagger ensured that I could not keep my eyes on centre stage for very long for fear of vomiting.

Asking Crocodiles to come on just before them could have been a huge stroke of genius from A Place To Bury Strangers (APTBS) as it would be difficult not to look at them positively after what the audience had just witnessed. Darkness came for APTBS' performance with only one bright spotlight lighting the face of the bassist, Dion Lunadon. By this point, the standing area was full and there were obviously a few real fans who eagerly anticipated each chorus and chord. APTBS have been labelled, 'the loudest band in New York', and we hear why as they turn their amps right up to the magic number 11, making it nearly impossible to hear the words Oliver Ackermann is singing. It is as if the wall from Pink Floyd's, 'Another Brick in the Wall', has been brought alive by musical notes and now it is hitting the audience in the face. Lucky then, that this wall is not made from brick.

APTBS' music is certainly interesting. The unusual sound that they create is a challenge for even the most well-listened fan to join in with. You can hardly sing along to the siren-like noises heard in the musical cry for help, 'Everything Always Goes Wrong', but that does not really make it any less entertaining. APTBS give a musical performance which can be enjoyed simply from standing and watching. You could question, then, if you could not be as equally entertained by just listening at home or on your mp3 player - my answer would be, "only if you have an orchestra of dock-off speakers", because they are very loud. In fact, my girlfriend complained of a headache little further than the second song. She is a bit of a hypochondriac though.

When you do hear Oliver Ackermann's singing voice, he is reminiscent of Kasabian's Tom Meighan, and in other parts, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. 'Keep Slipping Away' is a track similar to the anthems which Kasabian are famous for but they also have that droning Cobain vocal. As they play, APTBS just stand and let their instruments create the performance for the audience. The do not gyrate their hips or hump their amps, like Charles Rowell, from Crocodiles, but they have plenty of charisma.

Whether APTBS' wall of noise had hypnotized their fans in to a trance I am not sure, but, there was practically no moshing to speak of. The audience just stood and watched, like when a fierce-looking man is beating someone up and you are afraid to act. It is nice to go to a gig and sing along to catchy songs, like you would to Snow Patrol or The Maccabees but A Place To Bury Strangers proved to me that there is a lot more to live music than that. Good music can succeed on its own without the fuel given by a participating audience. To answer if their music is heavenly, it is certainly out-of-this-world and extraordinary but any angels in Heaven daring to play and sing to this kind of music would surely be banished to Hell.

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