A Place to Bury Strangers, Crocodiles

Alex Nelson 20/05/2010

A Place To Bury Strangers Crocodiles @ Arts Centre, Norwich 20/05/2010

Having never heard A Place To Bury Strangers (a ticket was bought on a whim after hearing many comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and just about every other noise-rock band under the sun), I am excited to see, whilst walking through the quaint Arts Centre lobby, a press cutting with APTBS's guide to becoming the 'Loudest Band In New York.' A small top ten list of points, it reads like a checklist to forming the ultimate band in my mind, and this excites me greatly.

First up though are Crocodiles from San Diego. Also extremely loud in their own right, they tear up the stage with their brand of Jesus And Mary Chain inflected noise-pop, each song segueing into the next through a hazy wall of feedback and keyboard clatter. Obviously employing a more than competent sound-person, their set and sound is tight throughout, the vile (in a good way) sounding fuzz bass cutting through just as proficiently as the loose and slack trebly lead guitars. Songs such as recent single 'Neon Jesus' announce themselves to the world through a slowly building barrage of bass noise before breaking into a Velvet Underground-esque indie-rock clomper of a song. 'I Wanna Kill' evokes the spirit of Echo & The Bunnymen with it''s uplifting chorus and distorted vocals. Unfortunately, the set is one or two songs too long, and the tunes don''t particularly deviate from each other and it quickly becomes slightly repetitive towards the end. To start off with though, they are one of the most promising bands I have seen.
When the self-proclaimed 'Loudest Band In New York' take to the stage and you can clearly hear the sound of plectrum on string over the P.A., you start to get a little worried. But fortunately, guitarist Oliver Ackermann nonchalantly walks over to his amp between songs, all scary big volume knobs and effects dials, and turns it up a notch until eventually, warning lights start blinking on every piece of electronic equipment in the area, and his amp is practically howling in the faces of the disorientated audience.

Tearing through songs from their two albums, 2007's self-titled debut and 2009's 'Exploding Head,' it is clear the bands outlook on music is to hit you at every possible level. Not only to the screeching wails of feedback reach ear-splitting peaks, but the band decide to compliment their minimal lighting rigs (two small lights at the back and a bit of a projected backdrop) with a stage drenched in dry ice and smoke. The spectacle of the images displayed provocatively at the back of the stage being projected directly onto the cloud of smoke, coupled with the sight of guitars occasionally reaching out beyond the plume in a wail of stretched strings, make for quite an exciting vision.

To barrage the senses ever more, midway through the gig Oliver stands menacingly towards the front of the stage, positioning himself over a lone couple of strobes which he proceeds to kick into life before returning to raking at his guitar, ripping strings from saddles and stomping violently on various effects pedals. The set ends with bassist Dion Lunadon scaling the speakers before plunging his bass into the front rows for a noisy beating. The feedback eventually stops ringing as the reverb wears off, but the ringing in my ears will continue for weeks to come. A truly astounding gig.