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Review Mon Apr 22 2013

The Besnard Lakes Kick Up a Storm @ Schubas, 4/20

You might imagine that music critics and live show reviewers get some sort of coveted access at concerts that allows them the perfect vantage point from which to report what happened that night in their reviews for the next day. I often imagine Greg Kot, for example, in some secret, birds-eye perch at music venues around town, quietly taking notes before flying back to the Tribune Tower at night, unseen, not a single tall person in his way.

Wouldn't that be nice.

But Chicago is a big city with a lot of very small music venues, so when one of them sells out, like Schubas did on Saturday night for The Besnard Lakes, the majority of us have no choice but to squeeze through small, overcrowded rooms to try and get as good of a view and as good of a listen as possible.

Fortunately, a band like The Besnard Lakes makes this a much less stressful proposition.

The Montreal husband-wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas write enormous songs as The Besnard Lakes. Over the course of four albums now, the band has paired complex, soaring melodies with epic layers of guitar noise that rise and fall at moment's notice. Songs are prone to sudden outbursts or complete changes in direction, while Lasek and Goreas maintain melodic stability throughout.

There's something to be said for not worrying about having a good view at a live show. On Saturday, The Besnard Lakes had big, colored strobe lights flashing on stage during their sets' loudest of outbursts. If you couldn't see the band playing, the lights and volume alone were enough to turn Schubas into something much larger than the small-capacity venue that it is.

During a roughly 90-minute set, The Besnard Lakes played a solid selection of songs from their four albums. Lasek and Goreas traded vocal duties throughout, each voice rising steadily above the band's dizzying volume.

Probably the highest point of the set was "Albatross", a song from 2010's The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, whose gentle, pristine melody is suddenly interrupted halfway through by a jarringly relentless storm of guitar noise. Of course, the band enhanced this part live, with Olgeas thumping her bass in time along with almost violent drum smacks while guitarists Lacek and Richard White fiercly strummed their guitars until anyone wearing earplugs in the crowd likely couldn't resist the urge to take them out--even if just for a second--to hear how loud it truly was. That's at least what I did.

It was an excellent example of the heightened experience from just closing your eyes, looking down, and imagining what the band could have possibly been doing to their instruments to produce such a huge, relentless racket. There was no need to "see" what was going on.

Later on in the set, I looked around and noticed other people taking in The Besnard Lakes' noise in their own unique ways. Some had their eyes closed, some lightly davened their heads back and forth. Ohers just completely surrendered, with their arms raised up in the air.

As always, it was only when the music finally stopped that everyone came back up for air, to look at their friends and shake their heads in approval, finally understanding just how loud and powerful a set it really was.

 
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David / April 22, 2013 5:31 PM

Mind if I drop a pic from the show?

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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.

Read this feature »

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