Godspeed You! Black Emperor Live at the Danforth Music Hall, Friday September 25, 2015

This was my second time seeing Godspeed You! Black Emperor in Toronto. The first time I had a terrible angle but was rather close to the stage (at Lee’s Palace). This time I had pretty great seats in the balcony of the Danforth Music Hall but they were quite far from the stage.

I guess it was the proximity, but this time the experience was a lot less visceral. It’s a show like this where I understand why people want to be up front, even if that’s actually bad for their physical health (ears and who knows what else). I still felt like I should have put my earplugs in a few times, sitting in the balcony, but for the most part, the sheer immensity of the sound was a little lost on me, sitting this far back from the action.

They played a mixture of old favourites and new material. I haven’t managed to hear their new album yet, so I didn’t recognize the new stuff, though that’s a good thing. As usual, pieces blended together through noise, feedback and loop sections at the beginning or end of most pieces. For me, the influence of minimalism on this band was more apparent than the last time. Lots of repeated notes and phrases with slight, subtle variations.

I enjoyed the show and appreciate seeing Canada’s greatest post rock band again, but I do think that if I go see them again, I may suck up the hearing loss and try to get closer so I can feel the full weight of their sound – they are much, much louder live than on record – as I think I missed it this time.

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