All Tomorrow’s Parties NY: My Bloody Valentine Reunion – Photos, Video

Kevin Shields was to ATP what King Khan was to Pitchfork Festival, minus the costume changes: In all seriousness, though, we spotted the My Bloody Valentine front man everywhere during our weekend at Kutsher’s, whether posing for photos with adoring fans, checking bands, or just wandering the grounds. We got so used to seeing street-clothes Kevin that it seemed a bit odd when he walked out on the Stardust Ballroom stage to perform with his fellow Valentines for their first set on American soil in 16 years. With the amount of excitement about the performance, it would’ve been almost impossible not to be somewhat of a letdown. Right?

The Stardust Ballroom sound, which was flawless for Shellac and others, crapped out here/there: MBV’s vocals were occasionally too low, the bass fuzzed out, and it was a bummer that so many of the riffs and accents were pre-sampled (Kevin and Belinda often strummed power chords). But! It was undeniably great to hear “Only Shallow,” “Sue Is Fine,” and “When You Wake” at massive volumes. Speaking of loud: It was so loud that during the quartet’s signature 25-minute noise jam finale, the vibrations literally dislodged a piece of the ceiling.

One of us (Brandon) saw My Bloody Valentine open for Dinosaur Jr. in Trenton in ’92, so their post-Dinosaur set tonight felt a bit like a flashback. Outside that original early ’90s context, Loveless live lacks the original energy/danger/forward trajectory and feels a bit like a museum piece. On the other hand, that set-ending noise jam, which also showed up at City Gardens, was more bearable with the foresight for earplugs.

The Stardust light show was pleasingly disorienting — flashes were so strong, a friend resorted to sunglasses. Amid all of this, it was easy to get caught up in the sonic heave and flow. That’s when the set was best: Forgetting all the hype and details, and just submerging yourself in the layers of sound.

Belinda Butcher’s aged better than most band folks who’ve released their definitive album decades ago. She pulled off glittery high heels with her black dress, and kept a tranquil smile on her face throughout. As you might expect, the band wasn’t too talkative. At one point, after audience members yelled to increase the amplification, Shields agreed with a “You heard them, turn up everything.” At the end, Belinda thanked us for coming. Thank you, Belinda.

This was the setlist:

01 “I Only Said”
02 “When You Sleep”
03 “You Never Should”
04 “When You Wake”
05 “Cigarette In Your Bed”
06 “Come In Alone”
07 “Only Shallow”
08 “Thorn”
09 “Nothing Much To Lose”
10 “To Here Knows When”
11 “Blown A Wish”
12 “Slow”
13 “Soon”
14 “Feed Me With Your Kiss”
15 “Sue Is Fine”
16 “You Made Me Realise”

And this is what they looked/sounded like (photos by Amrit):

“I Only Said”

“Come In Alone”