My Bloody Valentine at Hammerstein Ballroom
My Bloody Valentine
New York, NY
If the sound springing from Kevin Shield’s 15-odd amplifiers and filling every corner of the Hammerstein ballroom didn’t actually register on a Geiger counter, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. This was the kind of aural earthquake that in any other context would have people running the other way, but for a sold-out My Bloody Valentine show this counts as the norm, and the point. This was the final show of the 90s darlings' tour in support of their first record since ‘91, and this thick, crunchy sludge of fuzz and noise was both unbearable and beautiful. Impossibly loud, yet filled with intricately placed notes and melodies. Earplugs weren’t just recommended. They were given out for free in the lobby.
It’s hard to imagine a band like MBV being able to capture the same magic 20 years on as the band and their audience grows older, and the gap from the original source of angst and emotion widens–but for two hours on this night in 2013, it was 1992 again. Complete with flannel brushing up against flannel, and cigarette and pot smoke swirling above the general admission crowd.
From the moment the band took the stage they transported the audience to another time and headspace. The song choice was a mix of old and new, with “Sometimes,” “Only Shallow,” and “When You Sleep” as standouts. And the final “song” of the evening ended in a 10+ minute noisy onslaught that sounded more like a rocket launch than tuned musical instruments.
Which made perfect sense, as Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine left an impression that will last until the next beautiful aftershock.