Tag Archives: Mogwai


Mogwai’s Message Is Impossible to Ignore at Town Hall on Sunday

January 30th, 2017

Mogwai – Town Hall – January29, 2017

I can’t speak for the rest of the audience that packed Town Hall last night to bear witness to Mogwai perform their score for the documentary Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise, but anyone with any amount of identification whatsoever with humanity had to have been leveled. The 2015 documentary directed by Mark Cousins strung together archival footage of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the Three Mile Island accident, also showing the subsequent protests and revelations of the Cold War era. Mogwai performed their score for the film live to close out the Edinburgh International Festival in 2016, and have been touring with it through North America to begin 2017. With an equally impressive magnitude of output and precision of timing, they played in lockstep with the large-screen projection of the film above and behind them last night. Two touring members joined the band’s core, guitarist Stuart Braithwaite, keyboardist Barry Burns and drummer Martin Bulloch.

I think I can unequivocally say, without hyperbole, that I’ve never before been impacted by art’s power to alter consciousness, both in the aspect of being sensationally evocative and also provocative of motivation. It quickly got to a point where my eyes were fixated on the utterly devastating footage of the by-products of the inception of atomic energy. The band appeared to just dissolve into the surrounding darkness. At times during the breaks in the score that made audible the remarks of people who lived during that time and dealt directly with its consequences, all onstage seemed as though they were bowing their heads in memory and silence. The music brought together an ensemble of electric guitar, keyboards and drums in one massive, scorching onslaught, blowing up the normal paradigm of the concert experience. It was no place for children or those faint of tolerance.

In my opinion, Mogwai have now passed into a rarified class of musicians who recognize the influence harnessed in their compositions and find applications to a cause larger than their own. The performance was all the more disquieting now that we are all that much closer to something going disastrously and irreparably wrong. Our newest president and anyone remotely associated with nuclear proliferation should be strapped down and made to see this show. Absolutely, Mogwai’s performance of Atomic is an agent for a message with enormous significance, escorting it to a place where it is impossible to ignore. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly


Mogwai Provide More Than the Usual Concert Experience

May 12th, 2014

Mogwai – Terminal 5 – May 9, 2014

Mogwai – Terminal 5 – May 9, 2014
Mogwai transcend the traditional model of a band by elevating their playing to fabricate an intensely tangible environment that the listener inhabits. In this way they are more like an orchestra, with their evolving arrangements and sonic projections of the grand dramatic narrative. Mogwai are more gatekeepers to a dark, tempestuous world of their own creation, both menacing and beautiful. Stoic and reserved in typical Scottish manner, they usher in followers with their distinct brand of atmospheric instrumental rock and then pound them into submission

On Friday night, Terminal 5 was the ideal setting for Mogwai to display their experience and depth of catalog, masterfully demonstrating how, over time, an integral commitment to a musical identity can result in a set of carefully selected parts that ultimately stand as a singular, cohesive piece. Right off the bat, the epic “Friend of the Night” ramped up the energy in the room to an aroused pitch, and that gravity was sustained with a tapestry of songs that fed off the moods and contours of one another. New tunes like “Remurdered” built to overwhelming climaxes and were complemented in magnitude by “Auto Rock,” “Rano Pano” and “Batcat,” inducing rousing applause. Other songs like “Deesh” and the awe-inspiring “Mogwai Fear Satan” provided more meditative refrains before blasting back into majestic flourishes. Mogwai even invited additional musicians onstage to catapult certain numbers to greater levels of amplification, a new territory in their alternate world.

In the midst of all of this, Terminal 5 turned into a washing machine of pulsating splashes of light in punctuating unison with earth-shaking sonic movements, pushing beyond the ordinary interaction of listening and watching. It thundered and consumed, in some places abruptly alternating between splintering outbursts and soft undercurrents. The deliberate advance of heavy drums beneath layers of expansive guitars sent impact waves across the room, and from above you could see the crowd swaying like undulating waters, stirred into unified, synchronized movement. By the end, it was like a warm electric current had passed through everyone. There seemed to be an unspoken acknowledgement that a Mogwai show transcends the average concert experience. It’s the difference in reaction between “Oh, that was really good” and “What just happened?” In this way, Mogwai broaden the contemporary music landscape. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Dana (distortion) Yavin | distortionpix.com


Mogwai Will Fill Terminal 5 with Atmospheric Instrumental Rock

May 7th, 2014

The Glasgow post-rockers Mogwai formed in 1995 when three friends, Stuart Braithwaite (vocals and guitar), Dominic Aitchison (guitar) and Martin Bulloch (drums), decided to make music together. With the later addition of Barry Burns (bass, keys and vocals) and John Cummings (guitar), the group became a five-piece trafficking in serious guitar rock, although that guitar rock has also gone through changes. Per Rolling Stone: “Few ’90s rock bands were better prepared than Mogwai for the movie-trilogy blocks of music allowed by the iPod. Over the past 18 years, the Scottish outfit moved from making bombastic explosions in the sky to crafting widescreen soundtracks to goin’ down the road feeling bad.” But on this year’s Rave Tapes (stream it below)—the five-piece’s eighth studio release—things haven’t changed too much. According to Paste, “Mogwai’s nuanced focus is largely dependent upon the illusion of synthetic expansion rather than their trademarked barebones guitar-band meandering on Rave Tapes. Though that electronic dabbling may lurk in and out of the lion’s share of these songs, it’s not as if the band has hung up their spacey, drone-y roots.” Mogwai (above, performing “How to be a Werewolf”) are currently working their way up the East Coast in support of their new album. See them play Terminal 5 on Friday night. The space-rock Majeure opens the show.


Queens Rockers Gospel Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

February 20th, 2014

Alex Frenkel, Mike Gordon, Alex Marans, Gabe Garzón-Montano and Owen Murphy knew one another from playing in different Brooklyn bands in Buswhick when they decided to make a go of it together as Gospels. Now they live, practice and record all beneath one roof in a house in Forest Hills. They’re influenced by the likes of New Wave, Detroit soul and a little bit of folk. And according to AmazingRadio, “Their sound is refreshing and optimistic, a lot like the band themselves. It’s hard to describe their sound, but if pushed one might compare them to a brighter, lighter and less ambient Sigur Rós
or Mogwai.” Gospels are currently working on their debut EP, and you can see them tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.


Sigur Rós Sweeps Away Prospect Park

August 1st, 2012

Sigur Rós – Celebrate Brooklyn – July 31, 2012

With a threat of storms last night in Brooklyn, whether the weather would hold up didn’t seem to be on the minds of those at the Prospect Park Bandshell to witness a band’s long-awaited return to New York City. But one thing was collectively understood: One storm or another was coming. And if any band is suitable to experience through inclement weather, it’s the Icelandic quartet Sigur Rós, whose musical style and procedure almost trace that of a storm itself—beginning quietly, with a stirring or a rumble and gradually, almost unnoticeably, growing into something hovering all around you, cloudy darkness and mixed with light.

And then there’s the downpour, the lightning, the wind and the thunder. Sigur Rós has made this form of dramatic arrangement their trademark, with their mood conjuring the atmosphere of their mysterious homeland and lending them a power of captivation that few bands have ever had. In a manner similar to Mogwai’s, Sigur Rós’s music has always managed to convey a deeply rooted connection to the grand and haunting surroundings of their country, in turn transporting the audience there, or at least afforded them the feeling of escaping somewhere for an evening.

Prospect Park proved to be the ideal grounds for this experience. The evening unfolded almost like an opera, with each song developing like an act with its own special climax, including “Glosoli,” “Festival,” “Svefn-g-englar” and new-album standout “Valtari,” which were all wonderfully deliberate in their development. As they have done so many times before, Sigur Rós extended an invitation to a strange and beautiful world, and all were swept away. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com


Mogwai – Webster Hall – June 14, 2012

June 15th, 2012

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com

(Mogwai also plays Webster Hall tonight.)


Double Down with Two Nights of Mogwai at Webster Hall

June 13th, 2012

The Glasgow post-rock band Mogwai formed in 1995 when three friends, Stuart Braithwaite (vocals and guitar), Dominic Aitchison (guitar) and Martin Bulloch (drums), decided to make music together. With the later addition of Barry Burns (bass, keys and vocals) and John Cummings (guitar), the group became a five-piece trafficking in serious guitar rock. They’ve put out seven well-regarded studio albums, including last year’s Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will. And although they had to postpone their previous two North American appearances, Mogwai (above, doing “San Pedro” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) is back, playing Webster Hall tomorrow and Friday. Do yourself a favor and go see them live.

Movie Night at Music Hall

August 23rd, 2010

Variety is the spice of life, right? Which means sometimes it’s fun to do unfamiliar things in familiar places. Sure, we’ve all seen cool bands play Music Hall of Williamsburg, but have you ever seen a movie there? Well, now you’ve got the chance because the guys in the Scottish post-rock band Mogwai are starring in their very own flick, Burning, directed by La Blogothèque founder and indie-rock video auteur Vincent Moon and Nathanaël Le Scouarnec. It’s pretty cool, so check out the trailer, above, and then make your way to the BK for movie night at Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow.