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LIVE REPORT: Slint
Alex Franquelli , December 5th, 2013 11:44

Alex Franquelli never wanted to see Slint live, but thankfully he changed his mind for tQ and went along to the Forum for their recent ATP gig. Photos by Francesca Colasanti

I have grown up not wanting to see Slint live. I wanted them to play in no place other than a pond, with only the sound trickling out of the water, as if it were coming from a natural, maternal womb. No colours, no "hellos" and no "goodbyes": just water and sound. And silence all around. And no Tweez, please, not at all.


As one can easily imagine, I never managed to get to grips with reality and had to resist the temptation to see them on a stage, at a festival, with portable toilets in sight and the smell of mortality all around me. Tonight is no different, but I decided that humanness (and that includes this scribe) is inherently impermanent so, sod it, "give us those passes".

Small imperfections and the piercing sound of the snare drums completely out of range, almost painful at first, introduce us to 'For Dinner': to its repetitiveness and almost banal structure and dynamics. But this is no Kentucky pond and although most people here, tonight, have spent their money on a ticket that was cheaper than a train ride to Camber Sands, they have come all the way from 1991 to see and hear. So there is no filler, but rather the beginning of a set where a finite number of tunes can generate an infinite amount of memories.

And that is exactly what 'Breadcrumb Trail' continues to do in a room, a big room, where people stand silent and never meet the band's stare which, however, doesn't appear to be travelling beyond the curtain of smoke and distance between itself and the audience. "I say goodbye to the ground," sings Brian McMahan, while the audience mumbles the words before saluting the end of the song with the rowdy equivalent of a liberating cheer. It is exactly at that moment that many in the crowd must have realised that this is the first time they have heard these songs with other people around, such is the nocturnal nature of 'Nosferatu Man', 'Darlene' and 'Glenn'. And it feels weird, for once, to see an audience so intent on listening, rather than seeing the show.

This is no discipline; it is just nature. The drunken idiot on my right ceases harassing the tall gentleman in front of him, and as he quiets down, the lights follow his mood and almost disappear behind yet another blanket of mist. 'Washer' is welcomed by silence and embraced by a rare tear on the eyes of the cretinous spirit who has, by now, ceased moaning to reach a high of a totally different variety. 'Don, Aman', with Pajo and Walford on guitars, sees McMahan on his own far corner, hands firmly in his pockets, shyly concealing himself from the centre of the stage, as if they were still in their rehearsal room. The song seems to be on a precarious footing, somehow instilled by the drummer's apparent lack of familiarity with the six strings, highlighted by his visual reliance on Pajo's comforting expertise. This song has never sounded so intense.

'Ron' and 'Good Morning Captain' close the circle: one with its lopsided pace; the other with the all the dramatic, Sabbathian ingenuity that is proper from a bunch of guys in their early 20s, and one can't help but wonder what it must feel like to play the same tunes, chords and notes two decades later. From 'Kids' and 'the West Memphis Three to foreclosures and 'Spring Breakers': everything changes to remain the same.

As for Slint, they hardly wave goodbye before leaving the stage, but they are back in less than a minute for 'Pam' and 'Rhoda'. Maybe a 'thank you' or two, but nobody seems to hear it, as the smoke slowly disappears absorbed by the now intrusive lights. As I walk out, I suddenly remember a random guy holding Tweez in his hands at a Karate gig (nonetheless) fifteen years earlier. Enthused by the sight of such a familiar album, I asked him whether he liked the band and he confidently replied that, yes, Slint was his favourite album by Tweez. I bitterly told him I preferred a quieter, more melancholic band called Spiderland. "I love my Tweez, man, but I've got the whole Spiderland's discography on vinyl". "Ten fucking stars", I replied. This is also why I grew up not wanting to see Slint live. But tonight I have no regrets.

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