“Due to extreme volume at this show, it is highly recommended that you take and use the ear plugs provided,” were the signs posted on the doors of Kool Haus for My Bloody Valentine’s show on November 5th. Security guards stood just past the ticket line, handing out 3M orange and yellow earplugs, signaling MBV’s—with all their pink noise—determination to maintain the title of Loudest Band in the World.
They opened with Loveless’ “Sometimes” and spent much of the song sharing glances, recognizing that something was off with their sound: their shoegaze vocals were ultra-drowned, making it almost impossible to decipher the repetitions of Kevin Shields’ “close my eyes.”
The band admitted to their shoddy sound, saying “We really fucked that up” post-“Sometimes,” and adjusting their sound before playing “I Only Said.”
Loveless (1991) was a favourite of the night, as MBV continued the show with “When You Sleep” before moving onto their 2013 material, “New You.” But the show clearly wasn’t meant to promote m b v, as the band only snuck in three more tracks from that album: “Only Tomorrow,” “Who Sees You,” and “Wonder 2.”
MBV also mixed in tracks from their debut album, Isn’t Anything (1988), playing “You Never Should” and “Nothing Much to Lose,” and from their EP Tremolo (released the same year as Loveless), playing the lyrically sparse “Honey Power.”
The band’s visuals were enchanting, with spirals and disco balls on the screen, purple light to match the dream sequence sounds of Shield’s glide guitar, and red and blue pulsating light circles that looked like bloodshot eyes.
Despite the EDM-esque visuals, the audience stood still throughout—as did the band. There was just a single fist in the air, a guy in the middle of a crowd wearing a snapback with a neon brim. He was either a hardcore, rebellious MBV fan, or didn’t know that the rules of shoegaze shows include literalizing the genre’s name by staring at your shoes.
Then, at 47 minutes in, there was a long pause as the band and crew once again attempted to fix the sound. They re-started, and the lights became somewhat of a visual assault, with the flashing purples more seizure inducing that dream-like.
MBV closed with a touch of 1988, with “Feed Me With Your Kiss” and “You Made Me Realise.” I took out my earplugs for half a song before the very end, and the assault became two-fold. MBV might have released one of the best alternative rock records of the nineties, as critics often argue of Loveless, but I’d take the vinyl over the show, hearing “Sometimes” through the comfort of good headphones than through the obstruction of cheap earplugs.