Let it be said from the outset that At The Drive-In are not really a band that should have ever reformed. It was good – I enjoyed it, but it was mostly a nostalgia trip – getting to sing along to songs I never got to sing along to live. Like most people my age, I got into them when One Armed Scissor blasted out of the radio speakers and blew my head clean off. After that, I tracked down everything they ever did – even the crazy side projects – they were, without doubt, my favourite band. New found fame brought them to Australia, once, as part of the Big Day Out but, as many bands do, they skipped the Adelaide leg. I was gutted, but I figured they were on the up and I’d get to see them next time. And then they split. Anyway, The Stool Pigeon have just posted a review that is more or less spot-on, but I felt like I needed to share a few things about the time I finally got to see one of my favourite bands. Ever.
For starters, the usually ebullient Omar looked bored out of his wits and the typically cryptic or reticent banter of Cedric (at least the Mars Volta model I’ve seen live) was replaced with some of the worst between song banter I’ve heard in some time – all Facebook and Coronation Street. Who knows, maybe he was being ‘ironic’? And then Jim did a strange speech towards the end of the encore talking about how much he ‘loves these guys’ and (half-jokingly) how he saw the show as the final gig of the Relationship of Command tour. It actually felt a little like Dave Grohl’s recent spiel at Reading, to be honest, and did make me wonder if I was witnessing their last show ever.
Aside from all that weirdness on stage, the sound mix was muddy at best, which didn’t help. And most of the crowd had very clearly only ever really listened to Relationship of Command, which meant that when you got into the real stompers from In/Casino/Out (which I think is a far superior album in some ways, with Napoleon Solo a clear highlight of the show) much of the crowd just stood rigid. It was quite strange, almost like a festival gig where the majority only want to ‘mosh’ to the songs they already know.
It was an odd gig. I enjoyed it, but mostly because I got to go nuts to some of my all-time favourite songs, not because it was actually a good performance. Put it this way, I spent a good minute or so thinking, at one point, how I much preferred seeing Unsane a while back. A band I similarly had always wanted to see, playing a tiny room (Camden Underworld) to a wildly appreciative, non-capacity crowd. Instead, I was stood in the cavernous Brixton Academy, watching a band I used to love with all my heart, standing amidst a sold out crowd for many of whom ATDI were seemingly just a band it was cool to like when they were younger.
Oh, and I know, I know – this has nothing to do with films. I just needed to get it off my chest.