As with the Beach Boys and Sigur Rós, Mogwai has a definite case of “landscape manifest in music.” Keenly reflecting the gloom, drear and unpredictability of their Glaswegian hometown’s climate, these five lads from Scotland have crafted slow-burning, sonically heavy, mostly instrumental shoegaze since the late 1990s. With a “Spinal Tap”-like irreverence, the band fuels its inspiration for song titles and sparse lyrics from cryptic and random musings on things like dead musicians, ’80s children’s TV show catchphrases, and mythical monsterish creatures—”I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” “I Know You Are But What am I?”, “Batcat.”
This year the band released its seventh studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, and with it reclaims more of the positive critical reviews it had more readily received with earlier efforts. In support of the new record, Mogwai’s current tour of the western and southern parts of the U.S. included a stop at a full-capacity Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, where its droney, pulsating electronic-synth set spanned the band’s many albums to the obvious delight of many Angeleno fans.
Kicking the night off with a new track, “White Noise,” Mogwai followed with the sublime “Friend of the Night,” off Mr. Beast, the stage lighting inducing flashbacks of the track’s insanely popular YouTube video with that spotlight which follows a never-ending path of eerie plaster carvings. Though definitely heavy on new tunes like “Rano Pano,” “How to Be a Werewolf” and “You’re Lionel Richie,” the setlist included a few surprises, like 1997 single “New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 1″ and “Batcat” from the 2008 EP of the same name, bringing out audience favorite “Mogwai Fear Satan” from 1997′s Young Team for the final encore. Mogwai returns Stateside in September but will only hit up the east coast. Road trip, anyone?
—Linda Rapka (words + photo)