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A Place to Bury Strangers, Sian Alice Group @ BOTH, 9/30/08

September 30, 2008

You know you’re at a good show when you see members of other good local bands milling around the club. I was pretty early to the game to being a fan of A Place to Bury Strangers, and I’m happy to see a packed Bottom of the Hill after seeing them here earlier this year for a supporting Noise Pop slot.


I’m not sure why Sian Alice Group opened for APTBS. They were way too ethereal, slow, and boring to be up for the job. Like music for a love scene in a film that I wouldn’t want any part in. Perhaps they were looking for contrast? I found the lead singer, except for her impeccable taste in hairstyles———->, to be rather annoying, singing her long drawn out weepy notes with her hand pressed against her stomach, dramatically striking a triangle. For six people, their sound wasn’t very big. It was only the very end of the very last song that there was an inkling of a hint of APTBS type style.

Watching APBTS set up is like mad science. There’s a lot of cables and pedals and other doodads. As soon as they hit the stage, I remember why I would refer to this band’s live set as A Place to Bury Eardrums. Unlike seeing Slayer or other heavy metal acts that heavily use the bass drum to make you feel like you are in a living Maxell ad, APTBS is more of a total assault of the senses. The guitar screams in protest like it is being brutalized in a slasher film, and the bass makes sounds like the mating calls of whales. And then when they turn on the strobe lights towards the end you’re body starts to tell you “system overload”, but then when they turn off, you’ve forgotten what life was like without them, and everything seems too still.

APTBS is not for the faint at heart. It may not even be for everyone who likes their album. Their live performances are not a reenactment of their album- you will only barely be able to hear the vocals, the songs sound a bit different as the arrangements are changed up a bit, and they are, indeed, shoegaze- so don’t expect a lot of audience bonding. Don’t expect any. The sound is so big- they are deemed the “loudest band in New York”- that feel like BOTH can’t exactly hold it. I would have loved to see them in one of the NIN opening slots, to see how their set filled a stadium.

When those aforementioned strobes kick on is when the crazy guitar work really begins. It’s up and over and around Oliver as he presses it here and there and eventually it lands on the ground as he glides some strings over it to make indescribable noises. It’s a wonder that guitar isn’t more beat up. My guitar fetish is on overdrive. Am I weird? Add it to the list.

One more song, and the set seems so short. It is short, but can anyone’s ears really take more? I’m dizzy with distortion. After a year and a half of touring straight (seriously, they don’t even need a setlist on stage), a new album has to be in the near future. There are several unreleased songs in their set.

It’s really unfortunate that I lost one of my custom earplugs on Saturday. My ears will still be ringing as I go into My Bloody Valentine tonight…

Set List (help!):
Gimme Acid
?New Song?
I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart
To Fix The Gash In Your Head
Don’t Think Lover
The Falling Sun
I Know I’ll See You

APTBS performance: 9/10
Sian Alice Group performance: 5/10
venue (Bottom of the Hill): 8.5/10
crowd/scene: 8.5/10
value ($13/ticket): 9/10
memorable: 9/10


Ocean/from Domino Tree

the guitar thrashing from another show/from adwickz


  1. So true with Sian. I was thinking that I should have painted fake eyes on my eyelids (just to be polite.. kinda like a screensaver) and gone into sleep mode to save my energy resources for the main act. Though the last song was redeeming and more in tune with the night’s sound like you said.

    That evening, the cards were not dealt in my favor. I starting getting tunnel vision/blacking out right when APTBS were coming out (dehydration I think). I was so excited to finally experience this show live that I actually tried to tough it out in the beginning. Alternating between standing at the side of the stage to sitting in the back to try and regain consciousness before standing back up. On the positive side it was kinda fun mixing that with strobe lights. Well worth it. Wish I could have seen the whole show but apparently I needed to pass out.

    That’s kinda rock’n’roll, right?

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