After a large amount of time primarily watching gigs featuring up and coming bands, local bands and mates bands, it was a strange experience to see a band with such legendary status perform. It had been a while since I’d seen a band who’d had such a big cultural impact and have such a cult following as Stereolab, and a support band (Memorials) that, while new, featured members of other bands that were as significant.
Content was a perfect venue for this. I had never been before as usually it’s reserved for Bongos Bingo, however notable artists such as Caroline Polachek and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have played there this year. After going, I really hope more bigger gigs are put on there.
The sound in Content is exceptional and some of the best in Liverpool. Wherever you chose to stand in the venue it was impeccable, and the lights were as brilliant as they were punishing. It isn’t often you get a venue of this size able to still make the performance look and sound so intimate.
There was only one support, Memorials, however they were excellent, and I was glad they were the only other band on the bill as it allowed them to play a longer and more intricate set. Memorials are made up of Verity Susman of Electrelane and Matthew Simms of Wire. I was excited to see this performance as both of those bands had a huge impact on me as I was growing up.
Susman has one of the most unique and darkly beautiful voices in contemporary music and Simm is an absolute wizard on the drums. The tracks tend to veer towards the Electrelane side of things rather than Wire, but with moments that are more abrasive. They have a ton of stuff out on Bandcamp now that’s well worth a listen, but as a live force they’re electric and well worth seeing.
Stereolab are also, as expected, unbelievable. The set was around 90 minutes and saw them jamming through one lengthy track after the next. Stereolab have that strange, alien ability to hit you with a 10+ minute song and have it never feel boring for a second. Classics like Miss Modular, Lo Boob Oscillator and Come and Play in the Milky Night go off, with younger, newer fans and older heads from the first time around dancing together in the crowd.
The lights are startling as they flash along to the songs, creating this surreal world in which you are forever stuck in this moment. It is pop-y and dance-y, but at the same time completely psychedelic and transcendent. Once the set was over I felt as if I was in some kind of trance. The strange part is that after all these years, the band look like they’re having as much fun as the first time they played the songs.
I felt completely other-worldly leaving the gig. It’s always a unique experience seeing a band with this much prestige, who have been around this long, but to see it done with such youthful wonder was truly intoxicating. While it seems that the tour is now over, keep an eye out for festival sets and upcoming gigs, as Stereolab have shown they are still one of the most exciting live bands around.