Daughter 3

Daughter struck a beleaguered note in Uniqlo Ax Hall’s dark amphitheatre on Sunday as the ambient UK rockers launched into an enjoyably fuzzy set. Elena Tonra’s voice seems learned from the reading of dusty books in an attic lit only in small part by one window. It’s the ideal match for the band’s will-o’-the-wisp sound; bright, reassuring crescendos that ascend above the shapeless murk, consistent throughout the performance. Making perfect sense, the lights were turned low and the band was often lit by nothing more than a single colour as they gaily introduced and sadly played through their set.

Daughter 1

With a little agitation it felt a bit like dark music played by people without an ounce of darkness in them. Watching the soft-topped sticks of drummer Remi Aguilella punctuate Daughter’s hard hum, the image seemed an apt parallel; the music a stone-pipped ball of cotton that will return in equal force the intensity with which you bite. They never demanded your attention, and it was easy enough to wander away from mindful appreciation. Thankfully though, Daughter’s formula peppers their music with enough attention grabbers to never leave you dreaming for long.

Mogwai 6

Mogwai played late to an early crowd. After the introductory voice track ever-present in their records, itself a stand-in for vocals, the Scots collided their leg-of-ham music into the chests of a crowd invisible beyond my breathless gawk. With their cult of anti-personality on stage, the wine- and whiskey-swigging lads stood out of the way of the music, drawing little attention to themselves beyond an increasingly trite repetition of ‘감사합니다, thank you!’ after nearly every song. Second song Master Card’s repetitive limping march sounded like my imaginings of a loon slow-tapping off-kilter on my coffin. The song’s stately pace finally ravelled into a blunt force of a thousand intricacies, gripping the attentions dwindled during Daughter. Mogwai, in their prompt and matter-of-fact way delivered wonderfully methodical, stepping stone music that could suddenly fall away, dropping you into a clamorous well of sound. It may seem like a strange signifier, but Mogwai is differentiated from the instrumental counterpoints marking Seoul (Do Make Say Think, past; Explosions in the Sky, future) in their zealot’s loyalty to keeping in line with drummer Martin Bulloch’s snare. Even Daughter’s ambience lapsed more readily into amorphousness. Mogwai elegantly and ferociously hang their songs on a skeletal, even beat that offers handholds to help scale the looming wall of sound. This made even the stormiest songs like Rano Pano navigable, a noteworthy feat for an often-inaccessible style of play. They seemed like musical Tetris masters; builders of blocky music that left no hole unplugged for long. An ebb in the searing grizzle was offered deep into the set when Heard About You Last Night, the introductory song off their latest record Rave Tapes, was stippled by the dueling keys, ringing chimes as leashed to the drums as the rest. At once the audience became a unison of slow-bobbing monks in Mogwai’s temple.

Mogwai 8

Crowning the performance with an old garland, they stepped delicately through the eggshells of Like Herod, a juggernaut from the Young Team days, until they sundered the rock beneath with the devastating crunch of Mogwai’s full force. Scathing the nerves of my ears were the joint banshees atop my shoulders wailing each at the other as though miles away: a titanic sound back and forth marking Mogwai as a towering diptych of an act, as much the meat as the cleaver.

Words and photographs by Chris da Canha