Mogwai – Austin – South by Southwest, TX – 2001-03-17

Where: Austin – South by Southwest, TX.

When: 2001-03-17

In school, they teach that if have nothing to say, say nothing at all. Thus, I will not mention opener Mark Eitzle (formerly of American Music Club) beyond this sentence. Then came The Soft Boys, who also did absolutely nothing for me. So, with that said, I will get to the point: Mogwai were completely brilliant.

From the moment they mounted the stage, the crowd flowed with electricity. As the guitars of “Stanley Kubrick” slowly filled the massive (bands like the Offspring play here), packed venue, a remarkable silence over came the crowd. The undeniable beauty of the song seemed to overwhelm us all, and from that point on, there was no question that the Scottish boys owned the crowd.

One of Mogwai’s strengths is their understanding of dynamics. As their records show, they know that stringing too many “gorgeous” songs together can easily lull the listener to sleep. Thus, they never forget to bring the rock along with the cellos. Tonight was no different. Focusing on tracks from their upcoming CD, Rock Action, the band began to methodologically add layers of distortion to the mix. “You Don’t Know Jesus” went from serene to blitzing with the greatest of ease.

On “Secret Pint,” guitarist Stuart Braithwaite stepped up to the microphone and added yet another dynamic to the set. While no one will confuse him with Thom Yorke, Braithwaite’s voice fit the tune perfectly and had many people pulling out their earplugs so as to better hear him. The flow of the songs never ebbed, making the show seem almost like an album.

Then, when it looked like they could take things no higher, Mogwai tore the venue to shreds with “My Father, My Kingdom.” The 20-minute epic peaked and descended majestically, ending with a massive blast of feedback that still echoes in my ears. As the crowd worked its way to the door, the power of the show could be felt pouring out into the streets. Without a doubt, this is one of the best concert experiences of my entire life. Oh, and Stephen Malkmus went on next, but who knows what that was like; as far as I was concerned, the amazing evening was over.