It’s been five years since the experience of seeing My Bloody Valentine live for the first time, and now that I’ve seen them on this current tour at a much quieter volume (in both Denver and Boston), I feel the need to “pen some final recollections” – quick ones – in hopes of closing out this chapter of my life once and for all.
On that warm summer night in Manhattan in September 2008, people were running out of the venue. They were throwing up, looking for cover. My friend and I screamed at the top of our lungs at each other, at the very back, the very edge of the crowd of 3000 people, and we couldn’t hear even the slightest sounds coming from our mouths. I couldn’t hear my own voice in my head because of the sheer volume of what was going on. I only avoided a panic attack from the claustrophobia that the sound was creating because I was in the back and right next to the exit – easy enough to run outside for safety. People were looking around at each other to make sure they weren’t making this up – that other people were experiencing it the same way – that this wasn’t in each one of our heads. They had to pinch themselves to make sure this wasn’t a dream, but somehow a real, tangible event that was going on. The hair on my arms were standing up. The force of the sound was creating a wind tunnel. An observation a friend of mine pointed out, is that My Bloody Valentine, unlike the rare bands that reach or equal the decibel level they get to, essentially makes quiet music that is meant to be heard loud. Swans, The Who, whomever, when they get loud, its meant to be loud, its industrial, its rock, its meant to be loud. Very, very loud. But MBV makes quiet music that is performed at incredible volumes which make their shows set them apart from everyone else. You can listen to their records at low volumes, and still feel the warm enveloping textures and the background music they create. But to hear it loud and live, that is the experience. They call it a holocaust at times. A hurricane of white noise. Like standing behind a 747 during take off, not just in sound, but the feeling of being thrown back. And despite all the negative sounding analogies, it was beautiful. After the 2008 tour however they toned it down. People who saw them for the first time in 2013 and say they experienced all of the aforementioned, well even though you definitely got a taste of it – it wasn’t anywhere near the experience of a few years ago. In Boston, sound ordinance laws only allowed a maximum of 70 decibels at the time they played, while in 2008, they were up in the 120-130 range. And from what I hear even 2008 wasn’t as loud as their heyday in the late 80’s and early 90’s. After that tour I said I’d never seem them again. It was an experience I felt didn’t need to go through again – for my health and safety. People were walking outside of those shows dazed and bewildered. Yet they waited to watch others come out of the venue – just to see the looks on their faces. Especially those who came out last, as they were the closest to the stage. But I still went back again this year. And as much as I wanted to experience it again, it was also to prove to friends it really did happen this way, and to have them experience something they will never have the chance for again. But I think in the end I should be thankful it didn’t play out exactly the same way again. For my ears, for my body, for my mental state.
Below, one of this year’s new tracks, a quiet one, with that classic Bilinda swoon, called ‘New You’.