On the 4th of July, fireworks are anticipated and still their sudden shellacking ignites tremors, right before sonic boom and crack blooms into flowery light. The first time I heard My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow" was like being assaulted unsuspectingly with fireworks. Pounding snare into crashing wave of dense guitar, whammied into horrific bluesy afterglow. Viscous honey-sweet vocals are spread in the mix rather than forced on top.
MBV is called shoe gaze due to their shy, frozen live performance style, but sonically and visually, their style is more like Stargaze. The groundbreaking Dublin group's Loveless (1991) must be listened to all the way through. And turn it way up. For ultimate firework effect, close your eyes and let the imagery unfold. Although the guitarist and chief writer Kevin Shields was too fastidious to put the final touches on a new album until 2013, they did do a few shows to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Loveless. Earplugs were handed out at the doors. At the Roundhouse show in London, I counted three people collapsing to the ground, hands covering their ears in the first 10 seconds.
California's Medicine was another shoegaze band with equal amounts psychedelia and creative use of distortion. Their music is a wedding of ugly and beautiful. On stage, they're the same: members of an Otto Dix painting, although there is physical beauty behind the grotesque. In Minneapolis, 2001, during a 15-minute version of "The Pink", the gaunt drummer beckoned a cleanly-dressed young girl on stage, just curling his finger creepily. After two minutes she went up. He put his hand on her neck and pulled her into wide-mouthed French kiss. 30 seconds. Snare still snapping. Black, red, dark purple fireworks.
courtesy of JB (who should be doing his own thing here soon)