Friday, May 31, 2024

Live Shows: A Place to Bury Strangers, Suuns, and JJUUJJUU, Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA 5/30/24

A Place to Bury Strangers are a band I've been a fan of for years now, but have just never gotten around to seeing them live. Their live shows are the stuff of legend, with reports of pure chaos breaking out at shows, and just giant amounts of pure noise. I'm happy to report that the legends are true.

Opening the show Thursday night was JJUUJJUU, a band I have some familiarity with. They played a raucous set of noise rock that was still rooted in the moist basic rules of rock song structure. They had a bit of an almost blues rock sound, but mired down in just pure, loud, abrasive noise. It was in your face, but in an almost polite way. Their live show was much louder than the recordings I associate them with, which are much more chill and lovely. They were a fun rediscovery.

Suuns played next. They reminded me of early Mogwai without the extreme highs and lows. Their songs danced between being lovely and abrasive, but like they were trying to find the middle ground. And they did at times. Suuns provided a relatively chill out room between the two more aggressive bands, and were what we needed before the main course.

During A Place to Bury Strangers' set, frontman/guitarist Oliver Ackermann dropped his guitar multiple times, got it wrapped in cables while playing, and ended up smashing it. And that was just during the first song. The second song started with him playing a second guitar while standing on the corpse of the first. The entire set was an auditory assault of just pure noise and chaos. Maybe I'm not a big enough fan, but I literally have no idea what songs they played, or if they were even playing released songs. In other words, the set was great.

At one point, Ackermann hopped off the stage and into the crowd, followed by drummer Sandra Fedowitz, who was carrying her drumsticks. Bassist John Fedowitz was left alone on stage making horrific feedback. Eventually we heard some more music start up, and the crowd slowly wandered to the back of the venue to find all three members using some sort of rig, and playing in the midst of the crowd. Audience members began dancing in a circle around them, with some invited to join in on drums.

After making their way back to the stage, the audio assault continued from there. (It was also a visual assault with some of the most punishing strobe lights I've ever experienced.) The set ended with Sandra Fedowitz gleefully moving individual drums to the front of the stage to play them and scream along. John Fedowitz joined her on vocals, while Ackermann picked up an amplifier and carried it around the stage to create even more noise.

The whole ordeal was insane, and pure magic.

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