Mission of Burma, Hank IV @ The Independent, 9/27/08

This is my first time going to a show where an album is being performed in its entirety. This has been a popular trend lately, as Metallica, Built to Spill, and Sonic Youth have recently performed albums. I find the concept interesting. Doesn’t it take the magic out of setlist surprises? How many albums can really stand up for a full set? I’m only casually familiar with Mission of Burma, and their album VS., but as a major influence for several bands I love (Nirvana, Pearl Jam), I couldn’t pass it up.

Local punk band Hank IV– no relation to that famous family- opened. They are lots of fun, and this can mostly be contributed to their twitchy, flamboyant lead singer. At first I thought he was trying to do the robot, they I thought maybe he was imitating Ian Curtis’ epileptic butterfly dance, and then he started strutting the stage like a m-m-model. Their grungy style of punk can be summed up by a few of their song titles: Dirty Poncho, Family Adam, Hole in My Eye.

I was a bit taken aback when the guys from Mission of Burma started setting up their own equipment. They even chatted up fans and posed for quick pictures before leaving the stage to make their official entrance. The back of a speaker was painted with the catchy phrase ‘OBurma for Obama’. They came back and launched into the album, the discordant sounds they are know for front and center. It took me a while to get used to the tape manipulations. I sort of wish that the loops were happening on stage and not up at the soundboard so that there was a point of reference to look at. I also wondered why the drummer performed partially behind a Plexiglas wall.

It wasn’t the tightest sounding set I’ve ever heard, but the band and the audience seemed to be having fun. It was loud, there were broken strings, and falling mic stands. When they had finished the album and left the stage, they actually came back up and had an on stage discussion about what songs to do as the encore. I really appreciated this because it makes the encore feel more genuine.

vs.

OVERALL: 8/10
Mission of Burma performance: 8/10
Hank IV performance: 8/10
crowd/scene: 7/10
value ($20/ticket): 9/10
memorable: 7.5/10

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