Chris sent me an article from Pitchfork yesterday, and though like him, I needed a Pitchfork-to-English translation for a lot of it, it’s about the band Godspeed! You Black Emperor, a band I have loved since college. They played so often in Winston Salem that I assumed they were a local band, and only found out much later that they were Canadian.
Listen as this guy describes what it was like to be at a Godspeed show in Winston Salem, a show that I was definitely at, and a show that still remains one of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever seen.
I’ve seen Godspeed only once, in December 2000, at a place called the Wherehouse in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. To call it an intensely physical evening would be an understatement, and the music, amazing as it was, was only part of what made it special. I’d heard that the Wherehouse was an alternative space run by an artist collective, squatters in a rundown industrial structure who had eventually purchased the building and turned it into a place for art and politics. Ventilation was something they’d yet to invest in. We were in the heart of tobacco country, in a city with two brands of cigarettes named after it, and brother, you’d better believe that a couple of hundred Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans were lighting up with alarming regularity. The music, the swirls of sound and the builds and the guitars and glockenspiels and violins echoing off all that wood, was staggering and gorgeous. But the tears in my eyes were only partly because of the big crescendos in “Moya”. It was like being in a two-car garage while both vehicles had the engine running. In other words, it was just the right setting for this music.
I’m glad to see that he believed what I believed: Godspeed belonged at the Wherehouse. It’s a nice tribute both to the band and to the space, which was a miracle of a space for us, full of crazy parties and art shows and kids believing they were grownups. Go read the whole thing, and let me know if you can understand the rest of it. Then come back and listen to East Hastings, one of my favorite Godspeed songs.