There are a lot of mouths agape following A Place to Bury Strangersâ€™ cochlea-crushing opening set for Holy F*ck in Philly. These people arenâ€™t left speechless by the performance, though there is good reason to be, but rather by their inability to hear. Indeed, the brief but epic showing at local tavern Johnny Brendaâ€™s might have been something of an ordeal for the audience members naÃ¯ve enough to not bring earplugs, but hey: No pain, no gain. And the rewards do come for those strong enough to endure, quick and hard. Wasting no time, the trio of Oliver Ackermann, Jono MOFO, and Jay Space hit a blistering early high with their signature single, â€œTo Fix the Gash in Your Head.â€ The song thrills but in ways different from what one might expect. Spaceâ€™s pummeling percussionâ€”so prevalent on the bandâ€™s self-titled debutâ€”takes a back seat to MOFOâ€™s scraping bass and Ackermannâ€™s shredding sheets of guitar. The resulting motions in the crowd look more like involuntary jolts from the noise than the compulsive dancing inspired by the album version, but the song is no less mesmerizing.
ame The high carries on through album favorites like the Unknown Pleasure that is â€œI Know I See You,â€ which most resembles its album counterpart in its Joy Division worship, and the disintegrating dirge of â€œOcean,â€ which is accompanied by violently pulsing strobe lights.
ame If there are any complaints about the nightâ€™s performance, itâ€™s that at a mere seven songs itâ€™s over far too quickly. Other album highlights like the propulsive â€œBreatheâ€ and chaotically gorgeous â€œMissing Youâ€ are sorely missed. That said, whatever sacrifice had to be made to get to the blazing finale of â€œIâ€™ve Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heartâ€ was worth it. Inexplicably excluded from the album, its bubbling base quickly buzzes into furiously fuzzy guitars, cutting like a rusty chainsaw and climaxing with Ackermann literally tearing apart his guitar.
ame Just as on record, the listener is left wondering whatâ€™s left of a formidable instrument that has clearly reached its breaking point. The band will continue to test that point on their upcoming fall tour. Letâ€™s hope they perform more songs next time.