Fellow Glasgow residents Errors took the stage for their first ever visit to Seattle. The crowd eagerly lapped up the quartet’s brand of electro-rock. Errors opened up their set with a couple tracks off of last year’s solid release, Come Down With Me, but it took a shade of time for the band to really get the butterflies out of their collective stomach. As their set progressed, the band fell into a greater groove, churning out an equal mix from their two albums, as well as what appeared to be a couple newer tracks. By the end of their set, the crowd was dancing away to Error’s version of the instrumental style of almost glitch, Tron-like, data rock, from a scene similar to that of fellow United Kingdom dwellers, 65daysofstatic. The beats drive hard and the guitars drive harder. And just like a page out of Mogwai’s book, they’re very, very loud.
After a half hour setup of fine-tuning and tinkering, Mogwai took the stage to a sea of cheers and applause. It is tough to emphasize the influence that the band has had on one single genre, but with as many post-rock/instrumental bands that exist today, it is quite easy to find elements that Mogwai churned out a decade ago in everyone’s sound. For unknown reasons, many of the Seattle denizens were new to the Mogwai scene, or perhaps took the “loudest band on Earth” as a mere hyperbole, and were standing around earplug-less: a rookie’s mistake in the worst possible fashion.
This is because it is not a hyperbole or an overexaggeration; Mogwai pretty much is the “loudest band on Earth,” and although there is no scientific data to back this up, the band’s reliance on reverb, distortion, and senseless need to turn the volume up way too loud are live trademarks they are known for. As the band opened with “White Noise” and “Rano Pano” from Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the crowd segregated into two two different options: those who slowly and methodically bobbed their heads to the churning beat and those who jammed their fingers as far as possible into their ear canals.
The band was backed by a slight visual element, projections which generally didn’t really add that much extra to experience, save for the nicely done outdoor shots used during “How To Be a Werewolf.” Overall, the band played an impressive set lasting almost 100 minutes, mostly of material from the latest decade, but of course reaching back for the definitive crescendo machine of “Like Herod” from the band’s legendary debut album Mogwai Young Team. As “Like Herod” ended, and the individuals who didn’t have their earplugs sonically devastated from their ears took them out, the crowd filtered away from the ebbs and flows of distorted drones echoing from the many, many amplifiers. The band cheekily left off the fan favorite “Mogwai Fear Satan”, but then again, this was a tour for the new album, not a reach into the early years for 25 minutes of live material.
To watch Mogwai live is like watching your old favorite musical stalwart play on stage — the one whose music provides life to legions of new young bands and is still able to tightly cut it on stage. The band is often largely lifeless on the stage, with only guitarist Stuart Braithwaite taking the time and energy to put any sort of motion into his guitarwork. But while the rest of the band sits on stage, it is clear they are interested in letting their brooding brand of rock and roll speak for itself. Although prone to sudden post-rock-esque crescendos, Mogwai has long been a band, that produces music which turns into its own beast, that plods along at its own rate. Live, Mogwai is a band for fans. If you have never ever heard of them, you may not come away impressed; but if you’re a fan of their albums — any of their albums — you will come away beyond satisfied.
Photography by Kerosene Rose, at the Portland, OR show at Wonder Ballroom