Live Review: Autolux and This Will Destroy You @ Lee’s Palace
A seemingly odd pairing for a Tuesday night, post-rockers This Will Destroy You ventured into Lee’s Palace with comeback kids Autolux. Their sonic relation was not very apparent until both bands brought their catalogue to life on stage.
Both Alec McKay and myself attended the show. More familiar with them, he wrote up his thoughts on This Will Destroy You, while I cover Autolux’s set:
Is This Will Destroy You simply neutral or universal? Far from general, they drew from a mixed bag of concert-goers, if proudly adorned bandshirts tell anything. I have admired TWDY’s s/t since its release, spinning it like clockwork; aural to say the least, but would a crowded room and live acoustics bring anything new to the equation? The live setting is where these songs live and breathe, forms truer than what seem like diluted copies in the Itunes window, evocative as they were/are – mixed to absolute perfection, the set opening new cut from their pre-released roster of tracks hit like an over-the-horizon Normandy, drums in the fucking deep, all devastation in tow. Somber? Beyond it, the new track is not so much dark as it is deadly serious, cutting the shit wholesale. Where hopeful was a common term on albums past, realistic is above all things the feeling of the new material. The clean distortion twangs echoed a naivety in comparison, uplifting as they were 2 years ago. If the opening song was any indication, TWDY is poised to aim for the depths rather than the sky on Tunnel Blanket, a choice I unhesitatingly support. The set was not without elevation, as “Threads” approached through cloud to its 2 climaxes, all instruments in tandem adding emotive power to the already soulful composition. The five string bass presence (via Donovan Jones) was central to all the tracks, simply plucking a string to shake the room, and anchor melodies with precise chords. I always fear for these performers, as if playing minimalist note patterns always feels easier to fuck up than technical arrangements… All is riding on that single pluck of the string, but these authors of feeling (Chris King, Jeremy Galindo) clambered about the floor, manipulating their effects pedals like watchmakers, timing their customary post-whatever delays with precognitive accuracy. Alex Bhore began on the ride carefully, and to look up after 2 minutes, was sacrificing the integrity of his drum heads for the sheer sonic reverberation, forming unmelodic vibrations that create lumps in the throat, against all reason of course. It was the power of the set that affected most of all, with evocative phrasings of melody simply to justify the nirvana of feeling that was created. A profound performance.
On record, Autolux’s sound is a delicate balancing act of dream-poppy sing-alongs and New York sized garage punkers. Live, the two are contrasted even more, often paired up with each other. The three piece began their set with Transit Transit opening twosome – the title track, which came about like a haunting lullabye, and mellow-cum-noisy “Census”. A strong, yet slightly underwhelming opening. In fact, for the first few songs, there was something missing from the band’s performance. It wasn’t until “Sub-Zero Fun” began midset that the band came alive and found their groove. The noisier songs (“Headless Sky”, “Blanket”, “Robots in the Garden”) were jammed on with loops and fuzzed out bass licks, helping bring the band’s punkier personalities to life. Drum-focussed tracks like “Turnstile Blues” and “Audience No. 2” garnered the most applause, and the healthiest type of crowd involvement: dancing. In fact, I haven’t seen a crowd so eager to dance and sing along in my concert-attending life. Current single “Supertoys” received the most lip-syncing, although a large part of the crowd seemed to know the words to every song, old or new. Even more experimental tracks like “Plantlife”, “The Bouncing Wall” and “The Science of Imaginary Solutions” came to life, the live environment allowing them to explore more space, not contained in any way. Throughout, the band’s set consisted half of 2004 opus Future Perfect, and half of their new favourite Transit Transit. For their first show in Toronto in five years, it really did feel like Autolux was brought back from the dead.
Going in, Autolux and This Will Destroy You weren’t an obvious pairing for a show. However, when you witness both of their live sides, in which they experiment and explore sonic soundscapes, they aren’t as different as you’d expect.