Walking out of the Electric Ballroom on Tuesday night was a wrenching experience. Rewind 3 hours and I was entering with high expectations and a confident hope that they would be more than fulfilled. Little did I know, I would see one of the best gigs I’ve been to. Before the main event, Eyes & No Eyes whipped up a thick and doomy storm of post-rock balladeering, the cello in particular growling out a Noxagt-like fury during one of their songs. Definitely a band to watch, they were charmingly pleased with the size of the audience while seemingly unaware that they deserved a much larger one.
Do Make Say Think entered to the sound of chirping crickets and eased their way into their genre-defining art-rock masterwork ‘Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead’. Hearing the album live in its entirety was richly rewarding; where the hush and subtle rhythmic shifts are immediately apparent on record; live, it's the power of the guitars and bass that is striking. The cracked melodic grace of much of the album is especially apparent in songs like ‘When Day Chokes the Night’ and ‘The Landlord is Dead’, the underlying roar of their music becomes more obvious over a venue's sound system. Final song ‘Goodbye Enemy Airship’ was rapture inducing, the psychedelic white out at its peak hoovering me up; I was completely unaware that my eyes had been screwed shut for much of it until it ended and I opened them, blinking and feeling momentarily lost.
What I had assumed would be a second act run-through of their other material to fill the time, became one of the most intense musical experiences I've had. Do Make Say Think are a lesson in how to make dynamic instrumental rock music; the peaks and troughs are perfectly, haphazardly judged; the jumps between sections: fast and slow, loud and quiet, fierce and gentle are perilously leapt; the band are a thrilling, wobbling high wire act. They strip the faces off the audience one moment with blasting riffs and avalanches of percussion, and the next, slowly lull them with soft shifting rhythms and drones of mournful horns. Mentioning individual songs seems almost incidental as everything flowed together so well; DMST ripped their way through, among others, ‘Frederica’, ‘Do’, ‘War on Want, and a triumphant finale in ‘The Universe!’ This last song was almost too much, a furious thrash monster, burying the audience in a landslide of joyous, transcendent noise; the volume was loud enough to rearrange internal organs.
The whole night was a tremendous affirmation of all that is good about people standing on a stage, hitting, strumming and blowing into things. This was a gig to remind you how all-consuming, magical and moving music can be.