Friday night marked the return of Mogwai to the Regency Ballroom, which was actually the venue I saw them in for the first time, on a tour with Fuck Buttons in 2008. I must admit that on Friday, I felt that virginal “stoned at a concert” feeling all over again; the entire room was a surreal cloudy haze, and the stage’s blinding lights contributed to the experience.
The Scottish post-rock band is touring on their eighth record, , which was released on Sub Pop at the start of the year. As the band is surely and steadily aging, their sound continues to evolve — Rave Tapes is seen as a slightly expected, electronic direction the band is currently heading toward. They had involved synthesizers and vocoder effects in the past, but not necessarily full embraced them the way this record does.
Mogwai eased into their set with Rave Tapes‘ lead track, the oceanic and gorgeous “Heard About You Last Night.” This song takes me back a ways in post-rock, bearing a resemblance to the Isis/Aerogramme In The Fishtank 14 track “Low Tide” (listen here). They also played the heavily synthesized “Deesh,” as well as the stand-out track on the new album, “Remurdered.”
The band visited many parts of their history in their nearly ninety minutes on stage, and their setlist would have satisfied a fan of any era of Mogwai’s discography. What stood out as their strength on Friday, though, was the performance of their piano epics. They delivered “Friend of the Night” and “Auto Rock,” both off of Mr. Beast, with such intensity and finesse. Despite the considerable change they’ve undergone over the past few records, Mogwai has definitely not forgotten how dive into their abrasive side; like crashing waves, they tore through heavier songs like “I’m Jim Morrison I’m Dead” and “Rano Pano.”
Just like how an individual song has its buildups, Mogwai’s full set was one big buildup leading into a grand ending: before their first stage exit, they parted with the prolific, arguably signature track, “Mogwai Fear Satan” off of the nearly two decade-old classic, Young Team. For an encore, they did “Batcat” and a handful more before it was time to go home. All in all, it was a spectacular performance.