LIVE: Godspeed You! Black Emperor Gather the Masses at LA Church (2/4/2016)

Canada’s greatest post-rock band provokes introspection, obedience, and awe.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
February 4, 2016
The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Los Angeles, California

A Presbyterian church isn’t necessarily the place you’d expect to find a subversive post-rock band perform—even if their name has “God” in it. But that’s where Godspeed You! Black Emperor decided to descend in Los Angeles on Thursday night for a concert that was soup for the soul.

Playing to packed pews, the collective effectively had a tenth member in the church building itself, which—oddly enough—seemed to command a degree of obedience from the misfit college kids, hipsters, and gamers in attendance. No smoking, vaping, or cross-talk tonight: God(speed) was in the house.

As they frequently do, they opened with “Hope Drone,” delivering the song on an altar and beneath enclosed lamps that flickered as if they were in the wind. Slow as the music was, it became quickly apparent that the church’s introspective ambiance would be a more comfortable fit for the instrumental band than traditional rock venues, where socializing is a priority.

GSY!BE continued to push their fifth and newest album, last year’s Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, playing it the whole way through. They reached dramatic crescendoes every fifteen minutes or so while obscure film projections drove home various narratives: nature’s bleakness, a city’s isolation, a police squad’s terror. The band’s new song, which fans have dubbed “Buildings,” was an uneventful endeavor rewarded with restrained applause. But then came a mind-melting performance of 1999’s “Moya” that both closed and stole the show.

GSY!BE continue to distinguish itself as a band whose music is thoroughly subjective, only appreciated through the prism of self-reflection. Nonetheless, some messages were clear: Don’t bend, ascend. Don’t sermonize, harmonize.

[Set list]

“Hope Drone”
“Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!'”
“Lambs’ Breath”
“Asunder, Sweet”
“Piss Crowns are Trebled”
“Moya”
“Buildings”
“The Sad Mafioso”

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