Ideas can come from the most unexpected places, but when it comes to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, their supremacy caught my attention. The idea of them catching my soul and trapping in a bottle, transforming my vulnerable heart and tender ears into something only my own taste of music could understand, filling my brain with waves of repeated riffs. I do not know if those real diehard GY!BE fans would get offended by me but when I heard of GY!BE’s musical pieces, they are totally rubbish. Yes, I’m lying. Obviously they are bloody brilliant! Is there another single post rock band (maybe there is) in the history of the world ever who consistently produce exactly what you’d expect of them, and yet remain so completely untouchable? No.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia would be their second last stop in Asia before making their way to Taiwan. A return to form for GY!BE as they were willing to put a fine mix of newer material and crowd favorites. The settings for the night had a heartwarming sense that KL Live is an epic indoor venue for bands to come to. It’s like the band had thrown a happy grenade to the crowd as everyone proceeded to lose their shit as the lights went off in the arena. It’s all up to Efrim (guitars), Mike (guitars), and Mauro (bass); the recognized trio who first started the band, and along with the other five excellent soldiers/musicians to start the night. Emotional depth and concrete thick sound was what I heard on their recent album Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, but live they are about one thing only; total annihilation.
There was no introduction by the band on the mic (well there were no mics or the band members on stage to start with) except that there’s a captivating 20 minutes long of static bass humming noise as a prelude perhaps, better than a 20 minutes of silence I presumed. Despite the show running late, the mood in the arena doesn’t hint at the massive reaction GY!BE has been getting. Kuala Lumpur’s reputation for hyped crowds appears to have been taken out to the back, as there were no dances, shoves, stage dives or heaving floor jumps to be seen in this post rock gig. Well, as much as it might pissed me off and other more straight-faced fans, the band was in fine fettle to match all the head bouncers with the tunes to match. The crowd was alive and well as soon each band member stepped up to the plate and clearly their presence made the arena poked with excitement.
One man whom I personally think that he’s the most enigmatic one behind the scenes was the film projectionist. He did the visual effects shown on the projector screen and was relentlessly manually flickering the images to sync in tune with the each beat that comes through. That night, he was unstoppable. Visual chaos ensued as the whole band started out with that atmospheric chilly tune of Hope Drone as the word “hope” was cast onto the giant screen behind them. Don’t you dare take your eyes from them as they were the perfect hosts for a soundtrack to beautiful disasters. You can say what you like about GY!BE but they’re almost certainly having more fun than you. With the two drummers, Aidan and Tim, kept switching places with their percussions, that whirlwind of infectious energy suddenly hit onto the crowd with their devastating track titled Mladic. With a middle-eastern kind of feeling, this is the reason why their sumptuous music remains perhaps the purest possible expression of the rock art. All of the eight band members ripped our faces off with their blur of time signatures and countless acts of technicality, of course without any sing-along tracks or heavy breakdowns that the youth nowadays have been gaping their wounds for.
The band’s message of this whole gig so far was basically to display endurance and discipline throughout their musical works. Wow, it’s no easy task from the looks of it, but they did it with ease. For those who survived the first two songs by standing tall, which you might expect to be uncomfortable in such cold surrounding, Moya delivered a passionate performance with the momentum running high as it reached the middle of the track. Sophie who’s on the violins seemed overly inspired by the occasion and didn’t take a while to click into higher gear. That menacing power coming from a female individual ensured that we all felt her touch of gold.
From the upper deck, I assured you that the whole stage floor was congested with varieties of awesome gadgets and tape loops. Well at that point of time, I was more concentrated at the swagger of their film projectionist. He had lost none of his concentration and refused to be seated as he somehow translated the images shown into an almighty experience for the crowd. With three old retrofit film projectors being used, it’s a wonder whether there’s going to be a live screening movie after the show. Judging by the polite applause they get on playing Behemoth, it’s too early for a band to settle any dehydration or short of breathiness despite having refreshments by the side. The two percussionists banged onto those drums with precision and nothing less than below par as beautiful as it can be. Triple guitar attack penetrated the wall of noise with thrilling definition of epic as the 25-minute mark of the song kicked in and by then the atmosphere was colossal. This was a career-topping masterpiece to me as this track was the longest on that night despite few of the band members were starting to take breaks before ending the set with their last number.
If there’s a staring contest during their live shows, there will be no winner. I was happy, content and mentally well-adjusted after lifting my head up for an hour and a half. Perhaps I need to seek professional help. After a long, decent of sheer relentlessness by the band, GY!BE began this short but entirely unseen journey into complete madness to end the set. It’s not hard to see why how excited the Canadian post rockers were to unleash their last push as Chart #3, World Police, and Friendly Fire provided a rattling display that could melt a metal piece. Their brilliance once again took a fist in my face without any pain; even with pain I wouldn’t mind actually. GY!BE’s worth every single penny and time forged on, dragging me along while admiring their ear splitting extravaganza.
A fire-breathing image on the giant screen got the heads nodding without troubling many brains and very much of their performance remained in the memory long. All I have to say that their music was an electrifying one of smart ideas and sci-fi heaviness, or maybe I’m the only one who noticed that. With no encore which they usually do for all their shows, GY!BE to my eyes are the silent workers who kept the post rock scene at bay beautifully. Peacemakers of the rock industry, I believe.
After each band member left the stage leaving a standing ovation by the crowd, I argued with myself on why that the highest form of music can only be realized when the hard work of those who create it, is stirred by the ones with pure imagination and polluted fantasies. If I go by that reasoning, then post rock represents a standard solid ground of expression.