Lightning Bolt at Vivid, 8 December

Lightning Bolt by Katja Ogrin

For me, one of the gigs that stood out the most from Capsule’s current programme of 10th anniversary gigs across Birmingham,was the opportunity to finally see Rhode Island based noise-rock duo Lightning Bolt. After discovering their Hypermagic Mountain album a few years ago, I had been eagerly awaiting the chance to catch their frenetic drum and rhythmic bass workouts in a live environment, especially after the buzz generated from their now legendary show for Capsule at The Custard Factory back in 2004.

Lightning Bolt are famed for there live performances, choosing to eschew the usual approach of playing on a raised stage platform, in favour of planting themselves in the middle of the venue floor, surrounded by their audience. The venue for tonights show, the Vivid art space in the Digbeth, was ideal for such a performance and coupled with the fact that Capsule had capped ticket sales at 150, it meant that the night was set for an intimate (albeit intense) experience for everyone in attendance.

Five minutes before the advertised start time, Lightning Bolt’s masked drummer Brian Chippendale broke through the audience chatter with shards of explosive drums and seconds later bass guitarist Brian Gibson joined him with giant slabs of pulsating noise which gave way to a locked groove, thus setting the tone for tonight’s performance. Over the course of the next hour, the two Brians delivered exactly what the audience had come for, with a blistering performance of controlled noise, tight, shifting rhythms and explosive dynamics, barely allowing the throbbing audience time to catch their breath between tracks, before launching into the next ribcage-rattling sonic assault. The newer tracks played tonight seemed more structured and concise than the older songs on display, but it was live favourites such as ‘Megaghost’ and ‘Dracula Mountain’ that really demonstrated their ability to conjure up something quite special, with the effortless shifts between drone, noise, melody, scattershot rhythms, pummeling precision and frenzied crescendo.

Only as the last few waves of sound echoed around the renovated warehouse space did it become apparent what an intense experience we had all just been subjected to. Slightly disorientated and with ears ringing, the audience dispersed, in awe at what they had just witnessed. As my friend and I gathered our coats and made our way into the rainy backstreets of Digbeth, we walked in silence for a few minutes, both stunned at what we had just experienced and also heavily deafened by the sublime eruption of sound created by the two Brians tonight.

Note to self : next time, wear earplugs!

All photos by Katja Ogrin.

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