Thrill Jockey 15th Anniversary Show - KOKO London -12th November
I only caught the last 10 minutes of KTL so it would be unfair of me to divulge at any length, everything I heard and saw was exactly what I had expected from them: ultra slow doom riffs mixed with horror film foley samples.
I’m not really a fan of this style but I’m positive fans would’ve loved it.
Adult were new to me, sounding like an hybrid of annoyingly simple house beats and Atari Teenage Riot, they were inspiring enough for me to go outside to smoke in the freezing cold for the last half of their set. They seemed catchy at times but that often led into irritating repetition.
Bobby Conn rounded up the evenings support acts with an interesting take on folk/pop songwriting genre with some embarrassing cheesy moments contrasting with quite imaginative riffs and harmonies.
As the supports finished, it became blatantly clear that everyone there that night were there for Tortoise. And why not, let’s face it - Tortoise really are in a league of their own.
Playing for just over an hour and cramming in a glorious mix of songs spanning most of their releases, favourites such as “I Set My Face to the Hillside”, “Seneca”, “Monica”, “Ten Day Interval”, “Salt The Skies”, “Crest”, “TNT”, “On The Chin”, “Its All Around You”, amongst many others were all played to the excited, buzzing crowd of the KOKO. Tortoise’s set was tight and entertaining, members swapping instruments creating a varied and textured performance, vast soundscapes and intelligent polyrhythm all tied together by some absolutely stunning visuals.
Tortoise for me represent the most thought through soundtrack band, each song having its own unique character which evolves independent of style, genre or external influence: each riff, melody and rhythm having been carefully laboured over, written, performed and executed to perfection and live they really enjoy the fruits of their works.
From my experience bands rooted in improvisation often struggle live, opting to either replicate their recorded efforts too closely and losing appeal by just being boring or being over indulgent and alienating the audience through constant jamming: Tortoise overcame this hurdle with ease showing their real skill, talent and genius live by keeping it fun, relaxed and mesmerising.