The Highly Influential Slint Prove They’re Post-Rock StarsMay 7th, 2014
Slint – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 6, 2014
A Slint show begins in silence. As the band walked onto the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage last night, people in the audience started shushing one another, and then giggling at the shushing, followed by more shushing … and then nothing. Slint tuned their guitars, nonchalantly standing around onstage before slowly beginning the opening basslines of “For Dinner…” This was not your typical rock show, folks. It was the band’s third of three sold-out shows in New York City, a remarkable feat for a group that initially broke up in 1992, and never had huge album sales or even toured extensively. But their 1991 release, Spiderland, changed the course of music for good.
It was a delicious taste of alternative rock to come. Give rock fans the Internet and unlimited access to music, and they’ll trace their favorite band’s sound back to its roots. And many of those roots lead right to Slint. So 20-plus years after their original dissolution and they’re selling out shows left and right. Slint aren’t rock stars, they’re post-rock stars. It’s worth nothing that Slint are remarkably tight for a band that had last reunited back in 2007: There wasn’t even a hint of sloppiness to their live sound—in fact, it came impressively close to how they sound on their albums.
The repetitive angular riffs of “Breadcrumb Trail” came out perfectly in sync, all the more impressive considering how shape-shifting the song’s rhythms become. Every song Slint played began with guitar tuning from all, ensuring harmonics and the dissonant hums of guitars came out sounding perfect. And every noise the band generated was precise and deliberate. Such attention to detail is rare but necessary on sparse compositions like “Don, Aman,” which creepily inches forward through thin guitar playing. At times, the guitar and bass seem to merely be extenuating the relative silence that fills the rest of the composition. The song ends by being swept away by a louder, more distorted guitar creeping in and then retreating. Anxious tension runs throughout their sound, and the final moments of that song are as close as they come to releasing it. —Dan Rickershauser