My Bloody Valentine was punishingly loud — louder, perhaps, than the SUNN O)))) or Merzbow concerts I’ve attended. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, even if I do enjoy the sensation of my ribcage and my nasal bone rattling the entire length of the concert; inevitably you’ll have to wear earplugs, and if they’re cheap Flents like mine, you run the risk of submerging MBV murk into non-trebly murk.
And at a venue much like an airplane hangar like the SF Design Center Concourse, it’s diffused non-trebly murk, but Jane and Xochitl and Jens and I were about a fifth of the way up front, so it probably sounded better for us. And it then becomes hard to make out the thick layers of guitar, like the wobbly choral ocean bed to which “To Here Knows When” is anchored. (On the other hand, the guitar motifs are practically burned into your head: I woke up this morning and could still hear that ten-note riff from “When You Sleep” ringing somewhere back there.)
But nonetheless, this means that one could still enjoy the live My Bloody Valentine experience on a purely somatic level, your body vibrating in sympathy to the speakers and to everyone else. Add to this a whole array of flash strobes so bright you can see where the lights are attached to the ceiling through your closed eyelids — well, you can see what I mean by “somatic”. You could have been asleep and the music would have still burrowed through you.
I can’t really provide a setlist — Jens said he recognized songs from both albums and both EPs — but as one can imagine, most of “Loveless” made an appearance. (“Loomer” was fantastic; MBV opened the set with “I Only Said” — you know, it’s the one with that repeating chirp — went on for what felt like a blissful ten minutes.) They came on a little after 10:30, and finished right at midnight — and as expected, around 11:35, “You Made Me Realise” began, culminating in 20-odd minutes of a tsunami of churning guitar feedback. One of my best concert experiences of 2008, in a year filled with them.