Ok ok, I should have written this review immediately after the gig at Festsaal, or more importantly, before the same line-up played again a week later at West Germany. I am sure by now the word has spread and anything I can tell you will bore you, given you have either seen it or heard all about it by now. But you know what? I am going to tell you about it anyway. Just because that's what I do.
We write different types of reviews on The Craze. There are those that we cannot wait to tell you about and the rant comes easy. There are those gigs that do not warrant a lot of words, where there is not that much to tell even if they were good, and those are usually our quick reviews. And there are those that are kind of hard to write, mainly because there was a big hype about the gig and we are not sure we are living up to it or we just didn't get it. This gig fits in this last category.
The hype about the Soft Moon gig was unbearable. Weeks before, people would talk about nothing but and this at a time when there were 7 concerts a week worth going to. Admittedly though, I absolutely love their album and was truly looking forward to the gig. As a nice bonus, Dracula Lewis, Souterrain Transmissions' latest signing, was going to perform and I hadn't seen him yet. So yes, I was looking forward to this night, especially since everybody was going to be at Festsaal tonight.
Dracula Lewis suprised me. Although Souterrain Transmissions is a label with a varied artist roster, I never expected this. The lights dimmed, except for some lights from the back, the stage was filled with smoke, and a hooded figure appeared in front of a limited set of electronic equipment. The music started and was incredibly slow, like when you play 45s on 33. Once the vocals set in and underlined the slowed-down dub sound, I was fixated. When I had been very sceptical for the first 5 minutes or so, I was now intrigued and sucked in. This was interesting indeed. However, I did get a little restless after about 20 minutes or so. It is the kind of music which I know is good but cannot enjoy over a prolongued period of time, given my short attention span. That's just me though. If you are into slowed down dub with distorted vocals, Dracula Lewis is one to look out for.
The change-over took some time, or so it felt. Then, more eerie back lighting, more smoke and figures on stage. The moment The Soft Moon started, people started to dance, tension released. I have to say, I was mesmerised, for 3 or 4 songs I felt privileged to be there, to listen to these well-crafted dark and melodic songs live. But initial excitement wore off and my attention was not held long enough to truly enjoy the gig, to gag for an encore. Maybe it was because Festsaal was packed and I was stuck at the back or maybe it was just the large venue setting or maybe the songs are that little bit less exciting live than they are on record. By all means, the band played well, the sound was great. But for me personally, some energy was not transpiring.
When I was on my way home, my partner and I were discussing the night and the performance, wondering why we hadn't been as amazed as we thought we were going to be despite everything having been right, and we came to no conclusion really. We go to a lot of gigs, we hear a lot of bands, we see a lot of performances - we are certainly a hard-to-please kind of crowd. Objectively speaking, this was a solid show, a good gig. Subjectively speaking, it didn't move me.
Then, the following week, Sewn Leather had to cancel their gig at the Soft Moon curated West Germany night. Soft Moon, being the cool guys that they are, immediately stepped in and so the line-up was The Soft Moon + Dracula Lewis, just this time at cosy and cool West Germany. And would you know it, voices (and the band) report that although the sound was not as professional as at Festsaal, the atmosphere and energy was amazing and the gig altogether more intense. And maybe that is still what it is all about after all: a punk gig in a knocked down dental surgery is always going to be more intense and grip you more than a professionally put on show at a club, even if it is wonderful Festsaal. Here is to sweaty small back alley DIY punk venues - and Soft Moon's fantastic album.