November 22nd, 2017 | Live reviews

Photos by Patrick Do Words by Zach Bilson

It may sound like an oxymoron, but Mogwai make a good case for the most well-rounded art rock band going. Last night’s set at downtown’s Belasco Theatre found them far from their infamous days of earsplitting three-guitar feedback, now more measured, contemplative, and, well, fun. They leaned heavily on this year’s Every Country’s Sun, with weightless jams like “Coolverine” and “Party in the Dark” setting their sights on the dancefloor rather than the heavens. Not that they can’t hit those heights anymore – bandleader Stuart Braithwaite still burns through fan favorites like “Auto Rock” and “Hunted By a Freak” with the fervor and precision of a hopped-up metalhead, which wasn’t far off from the looks of powerhouse drummer Martin Bulloch’s Thin Lizzy shirt. They capped the nearly 100-minute show with Every Country’s Sun’s title track and the legendary “Mogwai Fear Satan,” a sprawling mini-suite that sent brilliant lights dancing up their Shoji-screen backdrop. “I hope they play the ten-minute stuff,” one showgoer had remarked before they went on. Along with the rest of us, he went home satisfied.

Part of the fun of Mogwai as a touring unit is their penchant for taking left-leaning artists on the road, eschewing their ilk for more abstract electronic acts. This run was supported by Austin, TX auteur Xander Harris, who threw down dark, metallic beats that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Echo’s Part Time Punks nights. His physical presence was encouraging, as well – dancing back and forth over his samplers with frizzy hair and a ripped t-shirt, it was hard not to share his enthusiasm.