Saturday, May 17, 2014

PMR Road Trip - Mogwai at Terminal 5, New York City - Photos and Concert Review

Mogwai - Terminal 5 - All photos in this post copyright PMR

I was in New York this past weekend, part of the large contingent of Yinzers traveling to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Mendelssohn Choir perform at Carnegie Hall. The performance featured narration from Pittsburgh's own F. Murray Abraham, and at one point, before the start, the crowd waved Terrible Towels. No, really, they waved Terrible Towels in Carnegie Hall.

It was all in good fun, though. The radio host - it was being broadcasted live - had just commented on the large, proud Pittsburgh contingent, so the gimmick was staged. The Symphony and Choir performed exceptionally well; the New York Times called them both "impressive," saying that they brought "dramatic purpose as well as musical distinction to [Mozart's Requiem.]"

But that was on Saturday. Friday I was at Terminal 5. It's owned by Bowery Presents, the same folks who operate many of the big-name NY venues (Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Mercury Lounge). I guess the easiest Pittsburgh comparison would be Stage AE. Terminal fits more people - about 3000.  It was narrower, not much wider than than width of the stage,  but deeper, and with three floors (there's a fourth/rooftop bar that's only open in the summer). There were bars on every floor, and a VIP area up on the second floor, too.  A lot of the reviews I had read online were negative, but I took them like you should any Yelp review: with a boulder-sized grain of salt (one guy complained that he had to stand for his entire concert. Boo-hoo!)

Mogwai has played in Pittsburgh before, dating back to a gig at Laga in 2002. (We reviewed their most recent show, 2011 at Mr. Smalls.)

As for the performance, Mogwai was excellent. The stage had more pedals than a peloton. What stands out in my mind was the next to last song, "Mogwai Fear Satan," a 16 minute long behemoth and the final track off of their 1997 album, Young Team. The crowd gave a respectful cheer or two when they began a quiet, beautiful interlude. But then, shockingly, everyone stayed quiet for the next couple minutes. It was amazing. It was nearly silent! But then Mogwai reminded us they were Mogwai and tore away the silence with a 100 decibel blast. My girlfriend, lost in reverie, jumped a good three inches in the air. It was incredible.

Here are some photos (unfortunately, I got there too late to take any shots of Majeure, AKA one-half of Pittsburgh's Zombi, who opened):

-- B. Conway