Mogwai at the Jefferson on Sunday

June 9th, 2012 · 3 Comments · By

Mogwai are playing at the Jefferson tomorrow (Sunday), and I’m pretty excited about the show. Mogwai are, in my mind, one of the great rock bands of the late 90’s/early-00’s — they pretty much perfected the pretty-sounding-slow-build-into-crushing-distortion aesthetic right off the bat, and if you don’t have a copy of their 1997 classic Young Team, I advise you to correct that oversight ASAP.

Actually, all of their material up through 2001’s Rock Action is more or less unimpeachably perfect, I’d argue. Since 2003 or so Mogwai have gotten… different. I know their new style (shorter songs, more conventional rock structures, lots of vocoder) has frustrated a lot of people who just want them to keep making watered-down retreads of Young Team over and over again, but 1) there are plenty of other bands who are happy to do exactly that, and 2) I think it’s kind of great that they’re willing to try new stuff and not take themselves so seriously, or at least not nearly as seriously as a lot of their more obsessive fans do. (Many Mogwai fans will tell you that “Mogwai” is a Chinese word meaning “wind demon.” The members of the band Mogwai will freely admit that they named themselves after the critters in Gremlins.) So, I think Mogwai are still great, and still worth seeing live.

Incidentally, I saw them play in Los Angeles back in the spring of 2001, and it was definitely one of the better big-rock-shows of my college days. My buddies (all Mogwai obsessives) and I arrived eagerly early and held our front-row spots (more or less inches away from the bands’ feet) throughout the entirety of the show, including the 45-minute long encore of “My Father My King,” which was hypnotically excellent. I missed their show at the Satellite back in 2006, and was blissfully unaware of their first appearance in Charlottesville (which a C-Ville reader alerted me to), opening for Pavement at Trax back in ’97. Anyway, I’m excited to catch up with them again on Sunday.

Doors open at 7:00, with music probably starting somewhere around 8; Philadelphia producer Balam Acab is the opener. Tickets were $18 advance, and will be a whopping $23 at the door — but honestly, they’re one of the few bands I’d pay that much to see. You also could have entered our ticket giveaway… speaking of which, we’ve picked a winner! The winner of 2 tickets to Sunday’s Mogwai show is Erik DeLuca.

Coincidentally, Erik recently told me a great story about the last time he saw Mogwai play, outside Atlanda in 2006. Mogwai were, for some reason playing in the bar of a whirlyball arena (touring the South must be an interesting experience for Europeans). I’d actually never even heard of Whirlyball prior to this anecdote, but am now desperate to play it — it’s basically a combination of bumper-cars and lacrosse, a regional sub-sport of the Midwest and South, somewhat comparable to New Jersey’s enthusiasm for Skee-ball, I’d imagine. Anyway, after the concert Erik and his brother and their friends challenged Mogwai to a game of Whirlyball — Erik says, “I can’t remember if we won or not. This photo depicts it nicely. You can download the concert for free here.” In keeping with the thesis of my C-Ville column — that the secret to Mogwai’s longevity and continued relevance is that they don’t take themselves too seriously — I’m I’m glad to know that, despite the fact that Mogwai make music of tremendous power and depth, they’re not above playing a game of whirlyball against their audience members.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Smilin Tyler // Jun 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I personally terrorized Mogwai during that Pavement show. What is frequently forgotten is that also opening on that bill was Curious Digit; in fact, it might have been their last show. I held down their merch table and also maybe 10 beers in an hour. In short order, I was screaming slurred oaths about Trax into the air, and occasionally grabbing someone from Mogwai’s table (was he in the band? was she someone’s girlfriend? who can say) and explaining as urgently as possible through a mouthful of suet that they needed to get out as soon as possible before Trax got THEM, too. It goes without saying that I remember nothing of Mogwai’s set and all I can remember of Pavement was that Digit blew them off-stage. Hold on, I wrote that incorrectly. You know what I mean.

  • 2 Erik DeLuca // Jun 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Thanks Nailgun! Also, Mogwai played Bonnaroo Sat. The Jef show will be a change in scenery for them.

  • 3 Nico Espectacular // Jun 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Also at that ’97 show… while The Curious Digit were engaged in their knife fight with Pavement, I was sneaking the members of Mogwai beer, since they were underage, yep underage. I was underage too, but I had my ways, so I spent the Pavement set leaning on the the pooltable with Stuart drinking some watery domestic. Only Trax memory sweeter than that was stealing JSBX’s Red Stripes off the front of the stage, which was rewarded by a sweaty skullgrab and scream in the face from Jon Spencer, again underage.