Mission Of Burma at Pitchfork Music Fest, Union Park, Chicago, July 18, 2008
A public-transit fiasco had me worried I’d be late for Mission of Burma’s opening set at the increasingly better Pitchfork Music Festival, but I made it just in time for “Secrets,” the opener off of 1982’s Vs. — which the band would be playing in its entirety, as an installment of the Pitchfork/All Tomorrow’s Parties “Don’t Look Back” series. A couple of songs in, however, Clint Conley announced (smirk casually affixed) that the songs they’d played to start the set — warm-ups that I’d missed — were there because the band knew we’d “settle for nothing less than the definitive edition.” Well, shit. Thanks a lot, “L.”
HUMBLED: Burma seemed at once excited and dazed by Chicago’s recognition of their album.
The band, as always, sounded fantastic, especially if you’d been listening to the record all week in preparation. Live, Roger Miller’s guitar tone has a shrieking, wallish quality; on mid-tempo numbers like “Dead Pool” and “Einstein’s Dream,” it creates such an odd harmonic atmosphere that the simplest chord changes — easily ignored on a record that captures more of the band’s low-end grunt — are punched up and revelatory.
The trio seemed at once excited and dazed by the night’s recognition of their album, and the energy spilled over into their vocal deliveries, all of which were animated with what sounded like jitters. Peter Prescott had the most humorous song of the night, shouting through “Learn How” (which he described as “the song they used to let me ‘sing’ ”), ramping up the slightly dated punk diatribe and screaming overdramatically: “I want a Pepsi, I want a Pepsi, learn how!” Afterward, Conley quipped, “That was very well expressed, Mr. Prescott.”
Miller in “New Nails” shouting “Don’t make an idol of me” was an odd and beautiful moment. But Conley’s “That’s how I escaped my certain fate” redirected any guilty idolatry back to the well-deserving trio.
: Live Reviews
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