KOKOMO & Our Ceasing Voice, April 18th, Cluj, or, Post-rock and some pitfalls

This post started as an attempt to poke at post-rock, but I just can’t do it too convincingly. I like the genre and my arguments are rather slim. Here it goes, though.

I’ve been waiting for this concert for quite a while now, in part due to the awesome reviews the Kokomo concert from last year got, in part due to the awesome track Go, Mordecai from the new album If Wolves (which has really cool artwork ) which I’ve heard a few days before, and in part due to the fact that I lost the God is an Astronaut concert in Bucharest on April 12th so I had to fill my post-rock needs with something.

Now, post-rock is a genre towards which I have mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been listening to it since 2005 and I’m still loving most of it. But I do have some qualms with it.

First off, its name is fucking stupid. Rock is not dead (it’s reached an impasse, yes, that’s why everything retro is so in right now), nor is it terminally sick. But shoegaze was an equally stupid name for one of its predecessor, so let’s just leave it at that.

Second of all, despite its short existence (even though the term has been used since the 90’s – 94 to be precise,  most of what I consider post-rock is at most 10-12 years old), it’s quickly become pretty formulaic and cliched.

Take a look at the following pictures:

A Silver Mt Zion
A Silver Mt Zion
This Will Destroy You
This Will Destroy You
Mogwai
Mogwai
GIAA
God is an Astronaut
EITS
Explosions in the Sky
Probably not the most relevant way to make this particular point, but I thought taking a quick look at some top-rated pics on last.fm of some of the best known post-rock bands would give you an impression of what I’m trying to say. Hell, you could play spot the difference with these pics.

One of the most prevalent of the clichés is the slow build-up/climax song structure. Now, I understand they’re trying to avoid typical rock/pop verse-chorus structures, but most bands simply replace them with a build-up and a climax and it’s really not a way to go. When *all *tracks are 90% build-up, 10% climax, written in the same key, people will lose interest, guaranteed. Especially at a concert.

Beyond the volume of the music, you’ll hear people start talking (or checking their phones) more and more often during the quiet parts. You may say this is a sign of an uncivilized audience. It may be so, but who’s to blame them? I mean, most people come to a (post-)rock concert looking for thrills, and that thrill usually disappears after 5-7 minutes of stale (or let’s call it atmospheric) instrumentals.

Our Ceasing Voice, a band which hails from Austria, suffered at time from build-up-itis. While very, very, enjoyable at home (you can download or stream their album), during the concert, my mind started wondering at times, and not in the spiritual “I’m-one-with-the-universe” way, but in the “is-this-the-same-track” way.

They were a little heavier in concert than on the album, and while I love me some distortion, I have to say, they sound way better on the album, which I now regret not buying while they were here. They had a good show overall (except minor technical difficulties), they were really feeling it and this always shows, and probably, if I was “warmed up” by some other band, I would have enjoyed them even more.

The main reason I was there, though, was that everyone I know raved about the concert Kokomo gave last year in Cluj, and I can see why. They had it all, basically. From atmosphere to force, back again, and through it all, they kept us pretty much hooked, and left us all wondering “Who the hell is Arcade Romania?” (the title of one of the songs from their new album). “Go, Mordecai” was the highlight of the concert too, for me, but that’s because it was basically the only song I knew from them. :)

By the time I got to publishing their post, I think the Our Ceasing Voice/Kokomo tour is over, and that’s too bad, cause maybe, just maybe, someone on their tour path would have read this and decided to go see them.

I guess the true reason for this post is to tell you guys I got a fabulous Kokomo T-shirt which fits me like a glove and which you’ll see me wearing pretty often.

Mihai Chereji

Twenty-something web-dev & part-time self-saboteur with no sense of direction on the street or in life. Will write when bored, about music, programming, civic duties etc. @croncobaurul

Romania

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