[UNCOMFORTABLE SHOEGAZING] It’s tempting to imagine the expectations of the Musicfest-curious who idly join the lines of dedicated Mogwai followers. Most alt-fans have heard of the Scottish post-rockers, after all—name-checked by late-’90s college radio or friends detailing the group’s orchestrated distortion and slow-burning instrumental abandon. Still, one trembles for tourists encountering Mogwai absent any prior experience (or earplugs). The Glasgow boys exploded—as heard upon first LP Young Team—onto the indie consciousness in 1997. Even amid an age that prized sheer volume, Mogwai filled the sonic void abandoned by My Bloody Valentine and grudgingly assumed the mantle of Loudest Band Unknown to Heshers. The quintet has distilled its charge towards a quality of sound that allows the identification of riffage in the way that World War I veterans describe each bullet’s passing.
The term Mogwai references the deceptively cuddly creatures that became Gremlins. It would be too clever to compare a tossed-off name to the band’s ever-fiercer, endlessly more complex, spiraling guitar figures, perhaps, but this band’s music informs a similarly savage evolution toward choreographed anarchy. Latest album The Hawk Is Howling (sample track titles include “I Love You, I’m Going to Blow Up Your School”) won’t be released for a few weeks, but all evidence promises a continuation of past campaigns. If anything, the new stuff sounds a bit, um, louder.
It’s faintly miraculous that the legends shall grace our fest at all, but for the uninitiated, it’s best not to stand by the speakers after midnight.