Godspeed You! Black Emperor played in front of live audience and for that time the band has been on a hiatus with three of the bandmates, Efrim Menuck, Sophie Trudeau, and Thierry Amar branching off into another band known as Thee Silver Mt. Zion. Unlike many new reformed bands, Godspeed You! Black Emperor isn't debuting a new record and haven't announced one in progress to be released. (At this point, it is unclear as if the band will start to tour regularly or will go on another long term absence.) However, this did help reassure fans they would most likely hear some of their favorite songs played in the set." />

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Transmission
« Review: Godspeed You Black Emperor @ Metro, 3/26/11 Contest: Ellie Goulding @ Lincoln Hall! »

Concert Mon Mar 28 2011

Review/Photos: Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Metro, 3/27/11

2 Gapers Efrim GYBE.jpg

It's been nearly a decade since Canada's Godspeed You! Black Emperor played in front of live audience and for that time the band has been on a hiatus with three of the bandmates, Efrim Menuck, Sophie Trudeau, and Thierry Amar branching off into another band known as Thee Silver Mt. Zion. Unlike many new reformed bands, Godspeed You! Black Emperor isn't debuting a new record and haven't announced one in progress to be released. (At this point, it is unclear as if the band will start to tour regularly or will go on another long term absence.) However, this did help reassure fans they would most likely hear some of their favorite songs played in the set.

2 Gapers Block GYBE 3.jpg

Though Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a separate band from Thee Silver Mt. Zion, they both seem to function as a sort of unified collective on stage. They stand in a circular setup with an opening towards the audience and keep a look out in a sense of keen awareness for when to change tempo, crescendo, begin and end their songs. For both bands, this creates a perfect sense of flow live when the music's momentum gets going which is challenging to coordinate for any larger group of musicians (Godspeed You! Black Emperor currently plays with 8 live members). Without vocals, their own instrumentation and visuals provided them with their sense of timing, which led to a cohesive 2+hour long set for the second consecutive night.

RE ST 2 Gapers GYBE.jpg

A key difference between Thee Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the lack of lyrics in the latter. Menuck's anguished cries in Thee Silver Mt. Zion are absolutely heart wrenching and often involve really insightful metaphors and cutting politics. Yet, when one listens to Godspeed You! Black Emperor live, it's almost as if that voice is still there in ghost form. You can feel the passionate protests in each wail of the violin or bowing of the stand up bass. One's hairs can't help but be pricked up to attention with the building intensity of the drumming and other percussion instruments. In turn, the guitars always sing with their own melodic strumming, perfectly paced to be slower in the lullish parts of the songs, which make them seem downright dreamy to the furious sections that pose more like a challenge to make the world better and rebel against everything that is currently wrong.

Both bands also share the same themes in terms of liberal politics and rebellion. It's
what helps make These musicians seem as if they are made up more of profound
revolutionaries and less like simple indie rockers from Canada. It also helps the
audience member feel like he/she is truly witnessing something life changing instead of a mere passive event that may not even be remember as vividly by the time the morning comes.

2 Gapers Block GYBE.jpg

The essence of GY!BE's music both live and on their recordings is that something vital passes in the progression of the orchestration. The difference live is that the visuals only serve to add to this effect. The films are projected in a set up that feels like a postmodern story book with two separate pages or frames of visuals which at times overlap during the height of song crescendos especially (the pace that the stills are shown at also tends to quicken). The films were circular and were actually burned and destroyed live each night in different places, making the film viewing experience more individualized. In both the music and the visuals, there was at times a sense of art even in every day moments such as the flight of birds, gazing of a cat, to the outwardly political with images of protestors. In addition, there exists a defined sense of order and structure, of sum and parts and almost emotional numbers. One can't help but imagine Math having its own language and gnashing its teeth at some points even though it defies and transcends most music that is classified officially as "Math rock."

2 Gapers GYBE 45.jpg

Another aspect of their live performance that separates them from other bands is their lack of audience interaction. There are times some of the members even now turn their backs on their fans. It's also difficult to even make out their faces at times given the dimmer lighting on them. (They let the visual projections remain the focus of what can be seen.) Yet, it feels the band is literally channeling all of the intelligence of those fans in attendance. It also seems as if a tacit agreement has been made, an understanding that this is an experience where one will learn as they have the ability to teach. Even when it's despairing and disturbing, that invitation is one few audience members were able to turn away from and there was a very solemn respect. The band members may not explain their songs in words but their obvious passion make their aim an easy one to welcome and trust in.

RE 2 Gapers GYBE 7.jpg

There was a great deal of overlap between the two nights at the sold out Metro shows both in terms of the visuals and the setlist (see image below). The opening Hope Drone on the second night was even longer and more turbulently crushing, however, and overall the set time was about 20 minutes shorter (2 hours and 20 minutes vs. 2hours and 40 minutes.) These two Metro shows proved that it's clear that even if the band went on a substantial hiatus they still are able to play all of their best songs exactly as they had originally intended and hoped to do. If some fans couldn't reach a sort of catharsis by the end as the initial Hope Drone suggests is a possibility, it's at least honest to say many of us were grateful Godspeed You! Black Emperor still exists in some form and realize the world is all the better for their creative souls.

setlist.jpg

 
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Wilson / March 30, 2011 10:26 PM

Great review! Did you end up with the setlist?? I grabbed it off the stage and gave it to some guy who said he wanted it.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

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

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