Although I’m a late arrival to the post-rock party, I started following This Will Destroy You a couple years ago. With their sonic power, strong sense of melody and extreme technical abilities, this band’s music spoke to me in a way I’d never experienced before. So I jumped at the chance to see TWDY live at the Black Cat recently. As a bonus, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the release of the eponymously named first full length album, the band would be performing it and the 2006 EP, Young Mountain, in their entireties.
Hailing from San Marcos, Texas, Jeremy Galindo (guitar), Christopher Royal King (guitar), Jesse Kees (bass, keys), and Robi Gonzalez (drums) formed TWDY in 2004. Specializing in lengthy, and epic, instrumental pieces, their “songs” are the definition of a soundscape, with layers of effects-laden guitar, broad keyboard washes, booming bass tones, and heavy crashing drums. The music feels ambitious, majestic, and thoroughly conceived and executed. TWDY is no jam band, but rather a quartet of instrumentalists whose vision and extended pieces incorporate experimentation, arrangements and melodies that engage and hook the listener. In this, TWDY succeeds beyond all expectations.
Post-rock music has the unfortunate tendency to operate on two settings: delicate and crushing where gorgeous lightly picked melodies morph, in the blink of an eye, into monolithic power chords too often devoid of structure or direction. And that may be one reason the band recoils from the post-rock label. Founding guitarist Jeremy Galindo has said, “Fuck post-rock, and fuck being called post-rock.” Indeed, the band itself prefers the term “doomgaze” (doom metal and shoegaze) but ultimately, TWDY defies categorization, drawing on elements as diverse as metal, dream pop, and good, basic rock.
Taking the main stage at the Black Cat on May 9, the band tip-toed into the delicate opening notes of “Quiet” from Young Mountain. The second song, “The World Is Our ___,” is a masterpiece of melody, pacing and drive. The initial notes give way to crashing cymbals and wall of sound guitars only to retreat to the quiet passages of the song’s opening themes. There’s an epic, triumphant feel to the song… and so it would go throughout the concert.
Here is the evening’s set list:
Young Mountain (2006 EP)
The World Is Our ___
I Believe in Your Victory
Happiness: We’re All in It Together
There Are Some Remedies Worse Than the Disease
This Will Destroy You (2008 album)
A Three-Legged Workhorse
Villa Del Refugio
The Mighty Rio Grande
They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light
Burial on the Presidio Banks
The only disappointment of the night came toward the end when Jeremy introduced the final song, adding that TWDY had a new album coming out this year. This listener would have loved to hear some new tunes being worked out live. Alas it was not to be, nor was there an encore.
TWDY heads to Europe this summer, but be sure and watch their website for future U.S. tour dates: http://thiswilldestroyyou.net. Here are some pictures of This Will Destroy You performing at Black Cat on May 9, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Mark Caicedo.