GIG REVIEW – Eat Lights Become Lights and God is an astronaut at The Garage 23.09.13

This was how the future once was.

The stage filled with wires and effects peddles, two drum kits enshrined amidst a confusion of cables and cords, the sound that unfolds beneath the repeating vectors of the images on the far screen is chaotic and frenetic; boundless and raging.

This was how the future once was, the dream of distraction we were sold when J. Spaceman took up the cacophony of erratic noise established by The Fall and built around it a wall of tremolo and feedback.

This was how the future was.

Eat Lights Become Lights are overpowering in the sound they make, the hammer of the drums rattling ribs and the reverberation of guitars and synths filling the mind as spiralling images not entirely unlike visuals from the computer game, Rez – one of the final titles of the late, lamented Sega Dreamcast – continue to wash light over the audience.

We can talk about the music of Eat Light Become Lights in reference to other artists; we can talk about the echo of Cornelius, of POLYSICS or of Stereolab, just as much as we can talk of shoegaze and dreampop, of My Bloody Valentine and Ride, of Curve and Slowdive, but in truth what the band represent is an image of where dance music could have taken us if experimental music had continued to evolve.

For this reason alone, Eat Lights Become Lights are a band you should listen to, if not a somewhat stoic experience when playing live.

There is no communication of the meaning beyond the sound formed by the meeting of these four gentlemen on stage, and for this alone there is a tendency to degenerate into self-indulgence.

This is a ritual without a communion.

This was how the future was.

When God is an Astronaut arrive on stage sometime after 21:00, I find that I am not without reservation. Yet despite a late change of venues from the Electric Ballroom in Camden to The Garage in Highbury, the audience present in good spirits, the atmosphere one of hopeful, if not cautious expectation.

Nearby there is a group of disparate gentlemen in jackets tattooed with the rote imagery of heavy metal bands intermingled with others in polo shirts.

Before me are a number of Asian students holding up Samsung phones to record the experience, whilst to my right stands another Asian, hair dyed blonde and arms folded across her chest, her presence vivid amongst an audience already incredibly diverse.

Her presence is enough to detract from the mechanisms of the performing band, her expression one of impatience.

Founded in Co. Wicklow in Ireland, this band have earnt their credentials as a band who, despite lacking universal recognition, have a number of supporters in many different camps.

Polo shirts and Karl Marx slogans and the smoke begins to pour out over the heads of the audience.

The sound of feedback announces the commencement of a further song and there is something of Sonic Youth‘s earlier, heavier moments in the opening songs, another parallel of where movements could have taken us if history had presented us with the present facts.

This entire night is a love letter from a parallel universe.

The sound fills the venue and a girl dances dreamily in the small space before me, her movements not entirely unlike those of my ex-girlfriend in the dim light and the billowing smoke machines.

By the third song, the band introduces vocals, yet the mix is muffled and the sound of the three guitars is overpowering, waves washing over dull shores. The effect is negligible and frustrating.

As a live experience it is difficult to know what to make of God is an Astronaut.

Certainly they are talented and definitely they are accomplished, yet when contrasted with older bands of a similar dynamic such as The God Machine, their presence is diminished.

On record, God is an Astronaut are engaging and multifaceted, yet sadly on a Sunday night in Highbury, the band are less than entrancing.

There is a magic that is missing, a weakness in the intensity and an ambiguity in the meaning of what it is they wish to convey.

Like their support band, at several times it feels as if the audience is incidental to the established spectacle of a number of men gathered on a raised platform, happily playing with music with one another.

Perhaps this is the message, perhaps this is something I have become too impatient to appreciate after the sheer honesty and open heartedness of Sick of it All’s performance at the Underworld last month.

God is an Astronaut are by no means a bad group, and the hope is that as time goes on and the forthcoming new record becomes more familiar to their audience, then hopefully their performances will be more inspiring.

Yet right now, there is little to engage with.

The audience moves and our polo shirted and denim jacketed friends become increasingly more drunk but there is never a real connection between audience and band.

God is an Astronaut are still a band worth listening to but right now, their presence live leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Jacob Milnestein

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