Liveblogging My Bloody Valentine in Santa Monica, October 2

Approaching the building

So here’s what I’m going to try and do. Emphasis on try.

Connections in the building permitting, I’m going to try and liveblog tonight’s My Bloody Valentine show, as the subject line indicates. Yes, I know this is spectacularly goofy and geeky. I don’t care.

Why? I think because, in comparison to all the stories and things I’ve said and written about them over time, I’d like to see what it’s like in real time to gather my thoughts — give some focus from the center of it all, whatever it turns out to be.

If no further additions to this post beyond this general introduction and some links appear, then the liveblog ain’t happening, but I will be recording my thoughts into a message to myself which I’ll copy/paste into the blog later tonight. I will also be taking photos as I go, so keep an eye out on the Flickr stream.

We’ll see how it all works out.

For now, one last link to my Marooned piece detailing among other things when I saw them last in 1992 — final third of the article in question — as well as a link to my interview with Kevin Shields in the mid-nineties with what I think is the key section:

NR: I’m especially thinking, of course, of your version of “You Made Me Realize.” I saw two performances back then, one at the Roxy and one at the Palace, which I gather was one of the last times the band performed back then…

KS: The last time we played in America…actually, the last time we played anywhere! The one in Los Angeles. It was a shame, because it wasn’t loud. I remember thinking we played technically well, and I remember playing and going, ‘It’s not loud.’ Because when it’s loud, you can see ripples among the people as they all get hit by certain frequencies…

NR: To put your mind at ease, I think it was loud enough!

KS: Loud in a caustic way, but not in a low-frequency way, not in the stomach way. In the ears, yeah. I think we definitely tried to push that as far as we could ever push it. But I think in the future I want to make it a lot more physical, in a body way.

NR: That actually sounds a bit like Throbbing Gristle, of all bands, the way they tried to make sound visible.

KS: I think that’s a good thing! I think that’s real. It’s like when you play an acoustic guitar, weirdly enough. The only way you can imitate an acoustic guitar effect on your body when you’re sitting there playing it is to have a Marshall amp at full. It’s quite perverse, in a way. People perceive loud music as somehow being really confrontational and aggressive, but really what you’re doing is being sensual. At least that’s the way I feel; I know Dinosaur Jr. are like that as well. A lot of bands are trying to get that feel when they’re just sitting around playing with their amplifiers; then it feels right. When it feels dislocated from you, when it feels quiet, then it’s wrong.

ILM discussion of the tour, once it started, began here.

Time for me to get ready to go…and this is a quick test addition.


Spectrum on stage

8:26 — and Spectrum take the stage. Going to enjoy this set more than talk about it but it’s an apt pairing on many levels, not least of which is their partnership on a couple of EAR releases.

The crowd is what Mackro calls a reunion crowd, a mix of familiar types old and young. I know I’m older, wouldn’t mind being younger, won’t complain.

Surprisingly good sound mix so far. We’ll see if this lasts…

8:47 — very good set so far and Honey from Valet just said hi. It’s going to be that kind of night. Elvis Telecom just showed up to say hi right during the freakout on “When Tomorrow Hits.”

Spectrum continue

9:03 — probably the end of the set here with “Suicide.” The appropriateness of Spectrum being here is realizing how Spacemen 3 and MBV were the starting point for so many swathes of bands I’ve loved over time — there is almost a resetting of the clock to zero happening. The downside is in recognizing how much of this is both thrilling and expected — not a show of surprises but reconfirmations. I admit I will wish it was something more, however much I love the results. This music was not always just comfort food.

9:22 — break. Deep breath before the plunge.

9:25 — okay there’s some other anonymous opening band now. Yawn. Will post again after they’re done.

9:51 — allegedly that was one Gemma Hayes. She was the Buffalo Tom of this lineup. ANYWAY. Now we wait…

Awaiting MBV

10:00 — lights go down…

10:07 — they get dimmer…

10:12 — and dimmer! How to extract tension.

10:24 — they’re on!

I Only Said

10:25 — “I Only Said” — which they started the 1992 shows with. This IS the third leg of the Loveless tour. Sound is huge if boomy, strobes and visuals massive.

When You Sleep

10:33 — “When You Sleep” — the combination of the song and the lead imagery makes me think of Windy and Carl’s Terrastock 7 set on meth. Exactly the intent I’d guess.

You Never Should

10:36 — “You Never Should” — has that pleasant aggro Isn’t Anything feeling, not as sculpted as Loveless songs. Very bright. I hear what sounds like howls to my left.

When You Wake

10:41 — “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream”, one of the more Sonic Youth goes blissed numbers. Isn’t Anything is a great album but I do approach it differently so it’s nice to hear in this way, very brawling, not restrained.

Cigarette in your Bed

10:43 — “Cigarette In Your Bed” I do believe. As barbed as ever but Bilinda sounds more coolly ready to destroy, the guitars slipperier then angrier. Nice choice.

Come In Alone

10:47 — “Come In Alone” — MBV as slow boogie monster band is a bit of a secret weapon I think. Feels a little more leaden here though I’d say it was down to the venue. Deb is I’ve noticed less frenetic playing bass these days.

Only Shallow

10:53 — dear old “Only Shallow” — somehow it sounds shriller, angrier and more violent all at once, on the verge of cave-in. Monstrous and indiscriminatory. I am positive I heard some screams at the start.


10:55 — “Thorn” — back to Isn’t Anything-era stuff. I really must get all the song names down again. You can sense the power pop band they once were creeping around the edges.

Nothing Much to Lose

11:01 — “Nothing Much To Lose” — they would play the song with the stop start drum rampage freakout. The first people in my area to abandon it cut out now. Mackro is in heaven.

To Here Knows When

11:03 — “To Here Knows When” — somehow I knew this was next. Candy glaze wooze overload but now the drums are a clearer undercarriage, a relentless flowing push, near EBM jackbooted punch. More people flee. This is one of the soundtracks to the riot in my head, forever melting amps. The crowd seems hot and woozy but not yet stunned. Yet.


11:11 — “Slow” — the monster death boogie of them all, or at least of MBV. Pure grind, and somehow both nasty and…right. Then some thank yous and…


11:13 — “Soon” — look just read my Marooned essay. Sounds better live than it ever has been. Back in a bit.

Feed Me With Your Kiss

11:22 — “Feed Me With Your Kiss” — rather loud, this one. Which is saying something at this point. The serenity of the performers versus the violence of the music is the core for the whole band. Deb is in her element.

You Made Me Realise

11:25 — “You Made Me Realise” — well, here we go. Next post in five minutes.

Into the holocaust

11:31 — hmm. My teeth are rattling. Audience reactions ranging from devil horns to spasmodic jerking around to, apparently, pain. The sound feels like subterrenean lava. Definitely more tactile than in 1992 so Kevin has his wish.

Further into the holocaust

11:36 — approaching ten minutes into the holocaust. It’s interesting to notice the variety now — shifts in tone, in layers of scuzz. Nobody’s leaving around me — they’re in for good.

Deeper into the holocaust

11:40 — some people shuffle back. They aren’t looking happy.

Hi dere Mackro

11:42 — not many hands in the air now. Over sixteen minutes. My jawline is starting to ache and the nerves feel numb.

11:44 — into the final verse. Holocaust just under eighteen minutes. And that’s that…


14 Responses to “Liveblogging My Bloody Valentine in Santa Monica, October 2”

  1. mbvlorax Says:

    I have been waiting 16 years for this show and it was worth it. I can die happy now. BEST SHOW EVER!

  2. Ned Raggett Says:

    It was pretty grand, no question.

  3. Arnold Pan Says:

    From the pictures, looks like you were right of the stage, maybe in the bleachers. That’s where I was, so I had a similar view.

    I braved most of the Loveless songs without earplugs, and survived–no ringing this morning even! I thought the non-Loveless stuff were good too, even if the songs they played from Isn’t Anything sound the same.

  4. Ned Raggett Says:

    Actually I was on the floor! Just in front of the soundboard area a bit, more or less straight on.

    No ringing without earplugs? You’re made of stern stuff, can I borrow your eardrums? The IA songs had a little more bite to me just because they weren’t being heard via a 1988-era CD…

  5. Arnold Pan Says:

    I took out the earplugs for the Loveless songs, and saved my hearing on the others. To be honest with you, I felt like I could separate the sounds better (except for the vocals) with the earplugs. I definitely did FEEL the music, especially the bass.

  6. Ned Raggett Says:

    Yes, I always got that sense. The full-on holocaust brain/body zonk rumble was definitely the strongest this time out compared to 1992; Shields’ point in the interview about the sound being only ‘caustic’ then makes sense to me now.

  7. roberto Says:

    If this was the best show any of you saw, you need to get out more. I can understand a sense of nostalgia, but the sound was terrible – there were two guitars on stage and I could rarely hear either one. And I can see why they were considered a “shoe-gazer” band – the flashing light assault from the stage had most people on the floor looking down to avoid going into convulsions. Loveless is one of my all-time favorite albums, but this show is at the bottom of my concert list.

  8. Ned Raggett Says:

    I realize opinions differ and all but I trust you didn’t think all the non-bass and drums noise generated on stage were magically conjured up by elves instead of being played on guitars.

    As for the lights — precisely. And you’re welcome.

  9. roberto Says:

    Sorry – forgot my manners. Nice write up and cool pictures – thank you!
    I know the guitars were playing, I could hear them when there was no bass playing. But the bass was so overpowering that I couldn’t even discern different bass notes. It was just a distorted boom-boom-boom. Sorry for being a curmudgeon – I guess I had high expectations.
    Thoughts on the finale?

  10. Ned Raggett Says:

    No worries, sorry for the delay in responding, and thanks! I think it might have been down to room placement, as where I was was just fine, with earplugs and all. (And only a slight strain on them today, a good thing.)

    The trick is to come in with *no* expectations to these things — and then take it from there.

    As for the finale, well, my comments in the blog kinda say it. It was the most physical of the three times I’ve seen them do that.

  11. captain groovy Says:

    well they didn’t make it top Dallas.I saw Sonic Boom do a solo Spectrum show in January.I see you got the “full Spectrum experience” (i know i know!! ) I will say Spiritualized were here last week & they were brillant.They were so much better than i expected & they were seriously loud right down to a mini(5 to 7 minutes) freakout session in the middle of the old Spacemen 3 number “Take Me to the Other Side”
    I’ve been listening to them non-stop since & somebody put a board recording of the show up to boot.
    I completely relate to how you feel about some of those early 90’s bands.The new remaster of Isn’t Anything really brings it out for me.It always sounded so average compared to Loveless until now.
    Next week Helios Creed will be in town on a tour where he’s playing half solo half Chrome stuff.I can’t wait.Did you ever get to see Loop? I’m looking forward to those remasters.
    Anyway thanks for the writeup on the show.Really enjoyed it.Say hi to Elvis Telecom for me

  12. captain groovy Says:

    uh my typing leaves much to be desired!! 🙂

  13. paulhw Says:

    Just trawling through some of your old entries. I like the photos, especially. But my girlfriend mentioned that it’s embarrassing that the band and critics talk about a Holocaust section. The Shoah, as you no doubt know, was a new word for a hitherto unknown phenomenon. Loud noise at an entertainment event? Not so new, and not so horrific. Reminds me of how (reading NME in the late 80s) it was better to treat Shields as an abstract entity rather than an ideas guy. Sheesh.

    • Ned Raggett Says:

      A more than fair point. Given Shields’ own application of the term I can only claim just following it as a lazy shorthand on my part. But for any future encounters with MBV I might have I’ll think up something else. Thanks for the kind words otherwise!

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