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« Review: Chapel Club @ Double Door, 3/23/11 Review/Photos: Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Metro, 3/27/11 »

Review Sun Mar 27 2011

Review: Godspeed You Black Emperor @ Metro, 3/26/11

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Godspeed You Black Emperor (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Godspeed You Black Emperor's hiatus has done wonders for their publicity. This weekend's Metro shows sold out six months ahead of time and the queue snaked around Gingerman before doors had opened. And all of this for a band who, in my experience, basically has contempt for the type of people who'd pay money to see them perform. (Let's just say I was not pleased when I last saw them eight years ago minus a week. Though, while I have an aside, the first time I saw them is one of the best performances I've ever heard.)

The 8-person collective (3 on guitar, 2 on bass, 2 on percussion, 1 on violin) took the stage one by one shortly after 10PM and built into "Hope Drone", a low-key drone while "Hope" flashed on a screen. (Good title, right?) From there they transitioned into compositions spanning their career, from sections of their debut F♯ A♯ ∞ to two lengthy parts of their breakout Lift Your Skinny Fists... and their last official release Yanqui U.X.O. They even dropped in something that never made it to an album. And the evening closed with both sides of their brilliant Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada EP. They excelled with crescendos and were absolutely enthralling when the tempo picked up, and even sometimes when it didn't and their dense brooding style tugged at emotions.

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Godspeed You Black Emperor (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

The most striking aspect of their performance is the atmosphere. They barely acknowledge the audience, keep the lighting low and look as if they'd rather be anywhere else. Bleak visuals accompany their dark and sprawling music. Some of the scenes included desolate areas shot from a train, a garbage dump, city street plans and stock exchange crawls. (Only "BBF3" had color visuals. The rest were a stark black and white.) GYBE tests the patience of their audiences. They appear as if they're simply rehearsing, and we're looking in on them. Some of the members even face away from the crowd. But it all adds to their aesthetic as a politically-charged experimental post-rock band. However, that disconnect can eventually lose an audience's interest. Most were engaged through at least the 90-minute point, but after that it wasn't difficult to see people whose minds were elsewhere — nervously smiling to each other, texting, conversing, etc. People walked out; to leave because they'd gotten enough out of it or simply because they couldn't physically stand any longer. Still, over the two and a half-hour set, the band hardly missed a note and turned in an exemplary performance.

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Godspeed You Black Emperor (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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