Concerts of the Summer
Mount Eerie is the moniker of folk wunderkind Phil Elvrum (previously of The Microphones incarnation) who has achieved a kind of quiet renown in his many years on the circuit. Because I was too impoverished to attend Camp this year (please don’t talk to me about how great it was. I will rend you limb from limb. You have been warned.) I took the opportunity to see him play an intimate set at Puppies as consolation, only to meet him milling about amongst some records. Fanboy moment!!1! I clutched my newly signed copies of ‘The Glow pt. 2’ and ‘Winds Poem’ to my breast with the same fervency that a conservative senior would clutch her pearls upon hearing the F-word.
When asked about the recurrent nature motifs that are prominent in his work, Elvrum responded thoughtfully—dispelling my simplistic guesses that they are of only ecological and aesthetic import. Instead, he clarified: “I don’t want it to be overly aestheticized or quaint. I want it to be as direct and clear as possible, and “nature seems like the clearest version of our world”. He takes inspiration from “things, mountains and stuff, that are relatively eternal” and uses them as a means to question “What does it mean to be this person that I am? Why this light and forests, and why these websites, sandwiches, language and all other daily phenomena?”. This philosophical pondering is the crux of Mount Eerie’s ethos, and is partly the cause of the change in moniker – it marked a shift from personal concerns to more general ones, as well as providing him with scope for experimentation in style and form. As he puts it, “things had changed naturally, and I updated the name to reflect that”.
And certainly, this passion for the philosophical and the natural shone through live. The emotion invested in ‘Through the Trees’ was palpable, and his renditions of the sea-shanty ‘I Whale’ and the yearning ‘On Moonlight’ evidenced an appreciation for nature that goes far beyond the surface level. I understand his ethos better after seeing him perform live. Surely that is a high recommendation. Though the set was a tad abbreviated for my liking (an hour-long set, mind) and he neglected some of his greatest material (‘The Moon’ would have been nice!) really I’m just nit-picking. 4/5
Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY!BE)
The jury’s still out on this one. Look, they were my first post-rock band and they sound very good on first listen but come on now, it’s all a bit obvious and insipid, isn’t it? Begin with dreary atmospheric sound, have the drums (two kits worth of ‘em live, although both are used redundantly; the drummers mirrored each other unwaveringly throughout) slowly tinkle until they can be bashed loudly and formlessly as the climax provided by the guitarists repeating the same notes over and over and over and over but getting gradually faster and louder approaches until it eventually drowns out the gorgeous, lilting violin and rhythm sections that made the gig worthwhile in the first place. Voila! You’ve got yourself a GY!BE song. This isn’t just one man’s incoherent ravings; the brain trust of the internet has coined the disparaging term ‘crescendo-core’ to describe them, and it’s apt. This is accompanied by an unutterably meretricious and wanky ‘visual accompaniment’ which consists of trite imagery matching the ‘post-apocalyptic’ vibe they strive for. Not to mention their dreadful stage presence, not even bothering to give the audience so much as a “hello” and clearly expecting a hushed, reverential silence throughout and PACKING UP THEIR EQUIPMENT BEFORE THE LAST SONG HAD EVEN FINISHED. That’s what irks me the most I think; an elevated sense of self-importance that isn’t justified by the quality of their music. They’re good—but not great—post-rock, and although they can be exhilarating they achieve this all too rarely. Then again, maybe I just don’t get it—tens of thousands of people manage to hear things in them that I just don’t. You may well do too. Idk. 2.5/5.