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A review of...
Slint live at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
It's entirely suitable that Girl Band are supporting Slint tonight, because Girl Band are one of the many current acts who are directly and unmistakably influenced by Slint. Yes, they seem to be a bit angrier, faster and shoutier (there's much more of the LOUD than the quiet) but the influence is there for all to see. Tonight they are in the unusual position (literally) of playing on the dance-floor, so it's very much an "in your face" performance and the bass shakes the roof tiles throughout.
Slint come on to zero fanfare, not a single acknowledgement awaits them when they take to the stage, which I found slightly odd at a sold-out show. Even after they finish their first song there's a good 5 seconds of silence before some brave soul (possibly me) puts their hands together. Things loosen up as the gig goes on but there's definitely an awkwardness/respect to the band-audience relationship tonight.
As for the band, Britt Walford - drummer, and one of the creative forces behind the classic Spiderland - is hidden low down behind his drum kit for most of the gig, only recognisable from the raging, physical intensity of his drumming. He does come out of hiding for a small cameo at the front of the stage, playing guitar and vocals on a spellbinding rendition of "Don, Aman". Elsewhere, Brian McMahan still can't sing and play the guitar at the same time so we get a mystery extra guitarist on stage whenever vocals are a requirement. Incidentally, I know Slint are renowned for tuning-up / procrastinating between songs, and that's still apparent to some extent tonight, but I do find it strange that McMahan's vocals are indistinguishable for most of the show, even in a room as reliable as the Brudenell. Maybe that's just how they like it. Dave Pajo seems thoughful throughout, switching between quiet harmonics and screaming noise with ease.
They end their set with "Good Morning, Captain", and exit the stage to an audience reaction which is as loud as their entrance was muted. The band are tempted back on stage for an encore of "Rhoda", proving that showmanship hasn't entirely been left at the gate, but with a band with material as rich and atmospheric as this, it's really just best to let the music, and silence, do the talking.