Godspeed You Black Emperor!

They are touring Japan and I saw them last night after reading about them off and on for about a year and a half. What a mesmirizing show. Three guitars, two basses, two drummers, violin, cello, film show. Very intense, lots of ebbs and flows, it reminded me of sex. After years of always wondering, I think I am finally geting a hold on just what Canada is all about. God bless it.

Any other GYBE fans?

Yeah, I like their stuff. It can be ambient without being boring or new-agey. Then it gradually builds. The spoken word parts are good in a warped and interesting way. (They could audition some of the SDMB’s resident loonies for their next album :wink: )

How was the film? Did they do anything else to make the show more of a show? I’m curious, because their music takes its time to build, and I wouldn’t think it would be too engaging in a live performance. But that might just reflect on me and my short attention span.

A friend introduced me to this group. He says they’re great live, but I haven’t seen them yet.

Very symphonic. Me like.

And how 'bout that album art? (I have an EP of theirs on Vinyl!)

I’d think they’d make a great opening act for Radiohead.

The film was just grainy footage of the city, then the country, then the city again, etc. And it was all America, which I found surprising. It did match the music pretty closely at some places, like the coloring changing drastically at moments of particular musical intensity.

The songs are so long and there are so many sections with just the guitarists noodling around that other members of the band will actually stand up, leave the stage for five minutes, come back, sit down, have a beer, smoke a cigarette, pick up their instrument, retune, and then start playing. Sometimes they all looked like they were just roommates going about their respective days in utter isolation. Other times they seemed totally together.

True it isn’t always a show you can really “watch,” although I always take great interest in watching drummers play.

They take a violin bow to absolutely everything: guitars, basses, cymbals, cowbells, etc. And they look like a total bunch of hippies.

Their encore was a very simple, pretty song, during which the drummers took little drums out into the audience and walked around beating them in rhythm, which ogt all the Japanese kids nervous…sometimes they would hit the floor instead, and one guy was hitting the walls and rubbing the speakers to try and get different sounds. Didn’t really work, but he looked pretty crazy doing it.

But…maybe you can’t really “watch,” but the music takes you in and out. Your mind wanders, and then they bring you back to them. If you’re willing to make an experience of it, the fact that it isn’t a thrill a minute won’t bother you.

I see what you mean about radiohead, but I think 2000 radiohead fans weaned on pop songs (albeit pop songs with an orchestral quality) might riot.

I certainly reccommend them.

And Tortoise comes in two weeks!!!


But yes, a GYBE! show is awesome.

Another GYBE fan here. I haven’t seen them live, because I suck at seeing bands live.

Personally, I love them on album but think they are terrible live. I saw them at London’s Union Chapel in (I think) 1999 and all the tunes followed the same basic pattern: start slowly, gradually build, get really loud and then end. On record this happens less. I mean, it happens a bit but isn’t a general rule - at this gig EVERYTHING wa slike that.

The gig was somewhat livened up by the kid in front of me who had sneaked in some whisky and was spiking his own lager with it. He got quite horrendously drunk and kept jumping up doing the “metal sign” with his fingers. It helped pass the time.

and i second the “opening act for Radiohead” idea


Godspeed You Black Emperor are like cocaine to me. I wish I could see them live sometime - they don’t come around to Sweden often. :stuck_out_tongue:

Dryga_Yes, if they came to Tokyo, where lotsof folks are into ambient stuff, I’m sure Sweden with all of its metal-heads couldn’t be far behind.

amanset, it’s funny, but I felt just the opposite. I listened to the CD I picked up at the show, and it didn’t quite match the experience of being there. But it would probably be better on headphones.


What exactly does this mean?

Anyway, like I said, if you like to watch drummers and are content with sort of falling in and out of concentrating on the show, then I’d say the GYBE concert experience is an excellent one.

Somehow though, it does leave something to be desired. I wish the film were projected on all the walls, or there were more multi-media things to really wrap you up in the performance and take your mind off the fact that your legs are getting tired.

I too am a big gybe! fan. I have seen them the last two times they played Cleveland, they are definitely my favorite group. I am somewhat a fan of radiohead too but I don’t really think they would fit in opening for them. Plus they don’t want to even though they have been asked several times in the past. I forget their exact reasoning but it had something to do with how they want to concentrate on the music and not worry about the other things, hence the lack of any and all band merchandise. Even though they don’t have any real vocals or say much at shows they actually have some very strong and defined opinions on a lot of things. This is a pretty good fan site with interviews explaining some of the things they do.

Two other very worthwile side-projects of the band’s 15 plus members are called A Silver Mt. Zion (now called The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band) and Set Fire To Flames. Both groups feature Sophie (I believe she does cello and sometimes violins) and one of the drummers. ASMZ also includes Efrim who was a founding member of godspeed and does lead guitars. A Silver Mt. Zion is basically a more personal gybe with a more raw and melancholy sound and less of a focus on build-up and crescendos. I think they have a slightly more diverse sound and are very good on a rainy day or any other time you are feeling kinda down. Set Fire To Flames is a new experimental project where they got 9 or so people into an old house and just did impromptu recordings over a period of several days. They put everything together and the album is the result. I guess it feels a little less cohesive and takes a lot longer to get used to but I think it has a little more depth after a while. If you are a gybe fan and don’t already know about these two sideprojects, I highly, highly recommend them.

I recently got copies of “raise yer fists…” and “F#a#inifinty” (I’m going by memeory so I hope thats the right title).

I can see how it would be really intense live, and I kinda dig the CDs, but I’m not crazy about them, yet. Although I can see those discs being the sort of thing that really grow on you.

I meant that I never get around to seeing bands live, not that I don’t enjoy the experience. It doesn’t help that most bands play in either Manchester or Leeds, and I’m still quite a long way (a few hours) from both.

Last live act I saw was back in March: Sisters of Mercy, supported by David Thomas and two pale boys (brilliant) and Tin Star (arse).

David Thomas and two pale boys is the latest project from David Thomas of Pere Ubu. I recommend them to people in this thread, as I reckon you’re likely to have the sort of musical taste to appreciate them.