My “I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR 2012” (London) experience.

What can I say about a Friday and Saturday at I’ll Be Your Mirror? I saw Slayer play Reign In Blood in its entirety, saw Sleep play (never thought I would), met Steve Brooks of Torche/Floor and had a great time sightseeing.

When I got into London early on Friday afternoon and managed to meet up with Hayley and her friend Ben, we went to book in at the Travelodge and headed to Alexandra Palace. Unfortunately, trouble with the trains meant we missed A Storm of Light. However, we caught most of YOB, who definitely felt a lot more intense and just aggressive live compared to on record, I seriously suggest seeing them if you love or are only mildly interested in the band – just a step up live. We didn’t get to see much of Wolves In The Throne Room, but from the 20 minutes I saw, it was pretty good, pretty dark and atmospheric.

Then we went to get to the front for Melvins. They were late by about 15-18 minutes, but they definitely made up for it by performance – A Civilised Worm, The War on Wisdom and The Water Glass were particular highlights of the set. The crowd was getting more and more pumped as it went on, and the band didn’t even seem to be trying, which commands respect.

After a 30-minute break, Sleep came on, which we were pretty much at the barrier for too. I was worried beforehand just how long it would take before I’d get a bit bored of them, but it was pretty much a crime on my behalf. They just came on and mesmerised, the whole set was especially loud and Al even played this one note a few times during one song (don’t ask me which, it was such a blur of a night) and I thought I was going deaf – THAT LOUD. I’d never heard anything like it, not at any gig I’ve been to so far. You could also smell weed as soon as they hit the stage, which was kinda awesome.

Then Slayer came on and put me through one of the most brutal 75 minutes of my life. I thought I was ready and prepared for anything, but I still got beat and shoved, and I wasn’t even in a moshpit. I think they opened with World Painted Blood and played a few songs at random… then the stage just went dark, and when the lights came back on the Reign In Blood backdrop was revealed, and then they started going through the album in its entirety. I mean, what can you say to that, it’s pretty self-explanatory. The crowd were just nuts, one of the best I’d been in… if that includes getting kicked in the ear/face by a crowdsurfer.

To start the Saturday, I went to watch the ATP film, which was interesting… it was pretty much a collection of footage of all the ATP events. The Bristol ones were especially enticing… like seeing Lightning Bolt play outside shammy looking holiday resort flats, or Daniel Johnston playing his acoustic guitar on some grass while surrounded by people. There was live footage of Iggy Pop, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and so many more with injections of a comments from artists and even incidents with fans at the festivals/shows.

So, we went to see Floor play, who were just great and I honestly couldn’t fault it. I didn’t even realise that they didn’t have a bassist until then either. The setlist was perfect, mostly the self-titled album stuff and a few of their other ‘hits’. It was pretty funny that they were finished early and then told that they had another 15 minutes to go, which they managed to fill out. I saw Harvey Milk soon after, who were again another band that seems a lot better live than recorded, so I might give them another try soon (I’ve never really been interested by them before).

I then took part in a quick mixtape-swap, which was pretty good and would be better had there been more time before bands started playing again. Exchanged all of my disks and got a few from other music enthusiasts, who were into stuff way different than I normally am, so I can’t wait to check out their playlists. Some of the designs are great too – I got one with an origami dinosaur slipped in the sleeve along with explicit instructions to make sushi and a sudoku quiz with some… er… interesting comments on The Daily Mail!

So then I saw Codeine after the meet-up. I never heard of them before, and I don’t think I will again as I was just frankly bored and unimpressed by the band. The atmosphere felt like that of a friend’s awkward first gig. Even Holly, who likes them, didn’t want to watch them anymore. And so we headed to the Panorama Room and came across The Soft Moon. Another new band to me, but one I am definitely interested in checking out after their performance. I don’t exactly know how to describe their music, it was such a mixture, and the range of instruments and effects that were used were impressive. I guess a form of experimental-indie-pop? I have no idea, that’s just what I got from that set, but I enjoyed them!

Mudhoney was next, and in all honesty… I didn’t get it. The music (still) didn’t interest me, and the performance just wasn’t all that great, I got very bored very fast. I feel like I missed out on something because the crowd seemed to love it, but I guess it just wasn’t for me. The Balam Acab set was ridiculously soothing, and I think it was one of the few moments I’ve sat in front of a stage to watch someone live. Although there was very, very little to no interaction from the guy, it was a nice experience – so soothing it felt like beds should have been supplied in case you day-dreamed or went into a light sleep (not an insult in this case).

And so we went to see Mogwai finish the day. If you have seen the band already, then you will know, words can’t do it justice. The atmosphere, the ridiculous tightness and composure of the band, the lightshow… just amazing. It felt like a journey just watching the band; it was surreal just hearing Stuart Braithwaite’s really cheery voice inbetween songs too in comparison to how haunting the music is at times. They were simply incredible and I recommend anyone to check them out if the opportunity arises.

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