Mogwai / Part Chimp Phoenix, Toronto ON - September 2, 2003

Mogwai / Part Chimp Phoenix, Toronto ON - September 2, 2003
Somewhere between silent awe and spellbound catatonia lies the typical Mogwai crowd. Part Chimp primed the sold-out house with a set of cacophonous, Sonic Youth-inspired jams. Due to microphone problems, the vocals were barely audible under the distorted guitar, feedback and pounding rhythms, but judging from the plethora of bored expressions, few seemed to mind. Mogwai ambled onstage and eased their way into "Kids Will Be Skeletons," immediately lulling the audience into momentary serenity. Before long, however, dreams of rock action were realised as lights flashed in a stroboscopic frenzy during old favourite "Mogwai Fear Satan." Of the five members, guitarist Stuart Braithwaite was easily the most animated, pounding out chord after overdriven chord and sending fans scrambling for earplugs. What followed was an impeccably tight hour-long set culled mainly from their latest studio album, Happy Songs for Happy People. During that time, Mogwai floated gracefully through sprawling, transcendent jams as they connected with the audience via five instruments and fewer words. Their encore began with the gentle, repeated piano refrain of "I Know You Are But What Am I?," which segued into the epic "Christmas Steps," whose thunderous bass climax elicited squeals of delight (possibly pain) from the audience. Interestingly, the notoriously loud quintet concluded their set not by tearing the roof off the house in apocalyptic fury but by quietly plucking out the last strains of "Christmas Steps" into sweet, pristine silence. Apparently, quiet really is the new loud.