Experiencing the band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, it’s hard to tell where one song starts and another ends.
That’s why, shrouded in darkness except for the eery, vintage film reels projected above them, I barely realized the band had started its performance.
It was about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18 at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall when violinist Sophie Trudeau started tuning her violin, and before anyone knew it, the remaining 7 bandmates trickled on stage one by one.
The band was playing a five night residency in between gigs at the two Coachella festival weekends in the Southern California desert.
Anyone lucky enough to get tickets to the five sold out shows at the Great American Music Hall was in for an intimate and visceral audiovisual encounter.
Fast forward 30 minutes and the crowd woke up, providing the first sounds of applause all night.
It’s almost impossible to classify the music created by three to four electric guitars, a cello, violin, drums and percussion.
But the best description I could come up with is that listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor is equivalent to taking a hair dryer to your ears while blasting Beethoven.
Here were not the sunny glories of Sigur Rós, nor the numbing white noise of Mogwai; this was an experience that foretold the end of the world, the beginning of life, and everything in between, with eight musicians sounding like a symphony from worlds beyond.
Check out the SF WEEKLY review for another taste of an obscure, but poignant band.
For a taste of the madness, watch the clip below: