When You Wake, You’re Still in a Dream

There have been quite a few shows this year that for one reason or another we have felt compelled to attend. Several of them occured this past month, many in the past two weeks. In addition to the aforementioned Nick Cave/Spiritualized gig, September also brought us Mission of Burma performing their classic debut album Vs. in its entirety at the Echoplex, Sons and Daughters at the Troubadour, and a bunch of random high school punk bands at my friend Bill‘s garage in Torrance. Earlier in the year I also got to see one of my all time favorite bands, Swervedriver, who had reunited for a surprise US tour.

But the mother of all shows was yet to come. After 16 or so years of inactivity, noise pop pioneers My Bloody Valentine have returned to the stage to assault our ears once again. If you had told me a year ago that I would be seeing both MBV and Swervedriver in 2008, I would have accused you of schadenfreude. And I do not use the word “schadenfreude” lightly (or ever).

I arrived at the Santa Monica Civic Arena last night to learn that the opening act was going to be none other than Spectrum, the band Sonic Boom (a.k.a Pete Kember) formed after the dissolution of the Spacemen 3. I had seen Kember perform in various incarnations before, none of which were too impressive. He usually stood motionless onstage twiddling various knobs on his synthesizer. This time, however, he had brought a full band to perform a selection of songs from the Spacemen back catalog. When they launched into a cover of the Red Krayola‘s “Transparent Radiation” as their second song, I knew I was witnessing something special. This track was covered semi-famously by the Spacemen on their classic album The Perfect Prescription, and this version was spot-on. They proceeded to tear through an amazing set of pulsing drone rock, including Spacemen favorites “When Tomorrow Hits” (originally by Mudhoney), “Revolution” and “Suicide.” Kember even busted out “How You Satisfy Me,” the original Spectrum single, which benefited greatly from the warm sound of his current band.

Several audience members had the audacity to cheer when Kember announced that their set was about to end, as if they didn’t realize that My Bloody Valentine would not have existed without the guiding influence of the Spacemen 3. I don’t expect the average casual listener to know this stuff, but if you’re going to be a dick, at least do your homework. Personally, I knew I had witnessed nothing short of a drone rock miracle, and those are few and far between.

To be continued…


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