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Atlas Sound - The Shakes
Dec 19, 2011
Total plays:
23 times
Sounds like: Deerhunter, Lotus Plaza
Why do we like this?
Holy moly, shufflers. I've never experienced such a show as the one I attended this past Friday in Philadelphia. Atlas Sound, aka Bradford Cox from Deerhunter, played a seated show in the spacious church sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church in downtown Philly and it was truly the most mind-boggling show I've ever been to in my life.

I've been to a few shows in this church's sanctuary before, but I really never got as deep of a feel of the acoustics that this church was capable of until I saw Atlas Sound. The pews were filled (there were three sections of bout 15-20 pews) and Bradford's more eager fans were sitting on the floor right in front of the stage. I, on the other hand, was seated in the left section of the pews, unintentionally placed in front of a speaker which would soon melt my brain via Bradford's genius compositions.

Bradford stepped out onto the stage with just his acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a strip of pedals at his feet. He wasted no time beginning his journey into a looped ecstasy of layer upon layered kaleidoscopic psychedelia. If I were to estimate, I'd say half of his set consisted of his actual songs and the other half consisted of pure, raw, droneful wonderment (he definitely played longer than an hour).

He played all of his hits, giving the crowd just what they wanted and more. The way he constructed each song started out abstractly and ended up sounding like an orchestra. There was one point in the show where he layered so many effects that it sounded like a techno mix. With each pedal, he'd add a new effect, slowly and patiently building upon each song until it finally dawned on me the track that he was about to play.

Every single effect penetrated right through me. The audience was in pure awe and even breaking out into impromptu applause in the middle of numerous songs because everyone was just so moved. There were times when I couldn't even blink. My heart was vibrating and my mouth was hanging open. I could not believe I was experiencing such a truly electrifying show performed by one of the most innovative path-whackers of our time.

To get a better idea of what I mean, check out this live video from last month in Pittsburgh:

There was a point during Bradford's set where he began playing a song with an upbeat rhythm and the audience started clapping along. This made Bradford lose his spot, causing him to stop the song and stating that no one's ever clapped along with him before and that was something he needed to get used to. He then half-jokingly, half-seriously asked the audience to stop. The second time around, he got through it despite the audience's persistence to join in. At another point during his set, he took off a couple layers of clothing as the audience shouted "woos" and "ow owws" which he then replied, "Oh no, you don't want to see what's under this," and proceeded to bashfully say that he never got cat-called for removing clothing on stage. Philly's a breed of its own. Bradford's demeanor the entire night was modest and humble with an aura of angelic vibrance and ingenuity which made the audience love him even more.

This show was the most emotional show I've ever been to. There were times when I wanted to cry; there were times where I couldn't stop smiling from ear to ear, there were times where I was a little frightened, and there were times where I just had to laugh because I truly couldn't believe what I was experiencing. I left there with a melted brain and a truly thankful attitude. I felt like I had experienced something extremely rare. It all came down to a savant with a guitar, a pedal strip and an otherworldly talent.
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