Is seeing My Bloody Valentine live worth the hearing damage?
In 1991, My Bloody Valentine transfixed shoegaze fans with the masterpiece Loveless, but then retreated into the hazy shadows before eventually dropping off the musical map altogether. The prolonged wait for a follow-up finally came to an end earlier this year with their third full-length, m b v. Opinions on the new material varied from proclamations of another MBV masterstroke to queries of why the band even bothered. Regardless, we're talking about My Bloody Valentine's legacy once again.
Now, the Dublin quartet have just announced plans for a full-scale U.S. tour, including a highly anticipated local show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul in November, which prompted Gimme Noise to analyze if MBV's thunderous sonic assault to your eardrums (and wallet) will ultimately be worth it, or if this is nostalgia simply getting the best of us.
Wake me up when Ride announces a reunion show
Some fans question whether My Bloody Valentine even qualifies as the best band to emerge out of the shoegaze scene, and argue that Loveless has had undue praise heaped upon it. Ride's seminal debut, Nowhere, actually preceded Loveless by over a year, and many feel that it is more inspired and a far better representative of the shoegaze movement. It's a good time to revisit Ride, Curve, Swervedriver, Lush, and many others getting some well-deserved new fans out of MBV's current resurgence, but until these bands reform and/or play in the Twin Cities, this is all we've got.
Why not just go see Savages instead?
Some say My Bloody Valentine are musical dinosaurs who had their chance in the early '90s, and they should now just step aside and let modern bands have their moment. An easy example is Savages, who return to Minneapolis on Tuesday for a show at First Avenue less than two months after devastating the Triple Rock. We know people still return to 22-year-old but timeless Loveless, and it'll be a while before it's established that Savages' brilliant debut, Silence Yourself, has that sort of staying power. It's true that MBV's show will set you back $35. (Savages' show is half the price.) The diehards will argue this is a small price to pay to see a truly groundbreaking band -- even if they're past the peak of their musical powers. Attending both shows is a chance to bridge the influences of the past and the immediacy of music present -- assuming the next point holds up.
Will Roy Wilkins Auditorium swallow the MBV sound?
Out of all the discussions and concerns about MBV's return to the Twin Cities, this is the one that is most pressing and ultimately could help determine whether the show is a memorable one or ends up being a disaster. While plenty of bands have managed to overcome the spacious surroundings and put on amazing shows in the glorified gymnasium -- Nirvana, the White Stripes, Arcade Fire, to name a few -- more often than not the Roy has had a negative effect on the show itself, creating an echoey, muddy sound that frustrates bands and fans alike, while creating a distance between the audience and the performers that prevents a bond between the two from ever forming.
And for a band like MBV, who create an epic, textured soundscape within their music, those intricate layers might get lost within the expansive Roy. Hopefully MBV's sound guy finds the sweet spot for their mix. It would be tragic to end a 20-year wait to see MBV play live if the show gets ruined by bad sound, and Bilinda Butcher's exquisite vocals get lost in the din.