Landsacpe rock: This Will Destroy You @ Neumos 08.14.10

Local music scribe Heather Brammer caught instrumental rockers This Will Destroy You at Neumos last weekend. Here’s her thoughts about what went down at the show:

Who likes instrumental, landscape-y space rock?  I do! I do!  So naturally I was excited when I found out that This Will Destroy You was playing because every time they’ve supported an act that’s come to Seattle, they only play southern states!  I’ve been a fan for a few years and finally I got to see them live.

The band opened with the slow swelling of “Black Dunes”, a new song, but not overly unique in the genre of ambient guitar rock. It didn’t do too much for me. Next up (and better) was an older track, “There Are Some Remedies Worse Than The Disease”. Drums by Alex Bhore were dynamic and more upbeat, with a good guitar keen and a little screamy top note. Overall quality white noise. The set picked up even more on “Communal Blood”, a song with an urgent, tense tone. A bit scary, with the guitar building as a single voice. The whole stage briefly exploded with noise which ended with a single, rising pedal effect. The room was filled with the soothing reminiscent sound of the womb. You know, kind of like being trapped in an MRI machine. I don’t know about you, but I always find MRIs to be particularly pleasant.

Further into the set, we were brought down a bit with the opening meditations of “Villa del Refugio.” Unfortunately, the effect was ruined by some pretty bad sound. I don’t know what it is, but lately when I go to Neumos the sound is always a bit off. Maybe it’s where I stand or my ear is too critical, but it’s distracting. A great song anyway, “Villa” sounds like the inside of a serial killer’s brain: psychotic and with a sustained sense of dread. A single slam on the drum and a sheer wall, rising and pitching and never growing any less fearful. The drummer was nuts but totally in control and by the end, the seated guitarist looked positively wiped out.

Closing the show were the mellow and easy “Threads” which is heart-filling and drew the crowd in from beginning to end.  Lastly, we heard my personal favorite, “Burial on the Presidio Banks.” Once again to my irritation, the sound was mangled. I got over it because this song is such a beauty. It has that early morning, calm before a storm feel that I find quite comforting. There’s a real story being told in the song’s dusty landscape. I always picture a battlefield on the morning after a war. Picture this: It’s hot and dusty, a huge thunderstorm is brewing. In the quiet, the few exhausted survivors mournfully survey the dead while reflecting on the rage of battle. Yep, I’m dorky. I was really grateful they closed with that song.

Overall, it was a short set well-played by a good band. Unfortunately, I think I go to too many of these instrumental shows because everything is seeming so formulaic in a way that is becoming a bit tedious. Too many of the instrumental guitar rock bands are blending together and not creating anything terribly unique unto themselves anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all really quality and I recommend anyone check out This Will Destroy You. But if you close your eyes at these shows, it could be any of the myriad other instrumental guitar rock bands onstage now.

I caught up with one of the guitarist after the show to get the set list. We had a short conversation about their previous tours and I found out that they’ve only just gotten a US booking agent and expect to play more shows around the country in the near future. Good to know; they’re hard-working, talented and gracious guys who deserve a wider audience and more recognition.

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