Friday, 22 April 2011

Austin Report: Lightning Bolt

Some people get emotionally touched when they hear Elliot Smith sing. I get very emotional when I see Lightning Bolt play. I kid you not. My heartbeat was racing and I thought I was going to explode with joy.

But let me tell you about the venue first. I was explained the other night that Austin is on the same latitude as Kairo. It's hot and humid and the perfect place for open air venues. And the city administration doesn't seem to be concerned with noise pollution - they pride themselves in being the music capital. So Mohawk is a club with an open air area spread over a courtyard and several balconies. If you are on one of the upper levels you can watch the band and whatever is going on outside at the same time. This was very unique and I wish we had these types of venues in Berlin.

If you are not familiar with a Lightning Bolt live set: They're a two-piece, bass and drums, who usually play on the floor with the audience. The drummer wears a custom made mask over his head in which he carries the microphone to allow him to drum like a maniac and sing/grunt at the same time.

This night, they actually played on a stage, which was weird but also welcome given the layout of the venue. My date remarked that this was the first time he could actually see the band play and there is a lot to be said for that. Because this band is amazing to watch. It's not just the drummer but also the interaction between drummer and bass player that just oozes energy. 

Musically, I couldn't have felt more pleasure. For me, Lightning Bolt manage to play so much more than just noise. It may be the rather melodic bass lines or unusual singing style. But it's probably a bit of everything. This duo shows that bass guitar and drums can be so much more than just the rhythm section to a show off guitar front. They are the centre, they are the show and they move people: mosh pit, dancing, you name it.

It was by chance that I ended up in Austin but I wouldn't have wanted to miss this for the world. Lightning Bolt, please come to Berlin soon!

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