A Highly Influential Band Returns

January 20th, 2012

Mission of Burma – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 19, 2012

It’s sometimes interesting to imagine how today’s musical scene would be different if you removed just a few hugely influential bands from the equation. What would music look like today without Mission of Burma? From a short-lived stint in the early ’80s, Mission of Burma found a way to contort punk rock beyond the limitations of the genre, creating an entirely new one that became known as post-punk. Much like that of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges before them, Mission of Burma’s unique sound went on to forever alter the trajectory of rock. Without them, there likely would be no Sonic Youth, Pixies or Fugazi. Put simply, music would probably suck a lot more.

But to state that Mission of Burma’s best days are in the past couldn’t be further from the truth. After reuniting in 2002 the band has put out three critically acclaimed albums (with another one on the way), and they still put on one hell of a live show, bringing their relentless cerebral art-punk to wildly enthusiastic Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd last night. The post-punk veterans featured songs both old and new, powering through the noise-heavy guitar jams of “Fun World,” the punk rock sing-along friendly “This Is Not a Photograph” and the distorted wall of sound of “2wice.”

They returned for a three-song encore ending with a cover of the Dils’ “Class War” before coming back to the stage once more at the request of the hungry-for-more audience. They finished off things with “Red” and the wildly popular “Academy Fight Song.” As energetic, loud, dynamic, innovative and still (likely) as influential as ever, perhaps in 30 years we’ll be trying to imagine a world when Mission of Burma never reunited. We’re fortunate we don’t have to live in such a place. —Dan Rickershauser