Loyal Whirr Fans Anything but Up in Smoke

Loyal Whirr Fans Anything but Up in Smoke:

By: Daniel Coston

Wildhoney (11)

Standing across the street from the Neighborhood Theatre, I’m watching the crowd for the Whirr concert spill out onto the sidewalk. Whirr’s smoke machines had filled the venue up to the point where it set off the building’s smoke alarms and prompted a visit from the fire department. As I’m watching all of this, a gentleman comes by and offers me earplugs. “They’re industrial strength,” he says. “If you’re sticking around for Whirr, you’ll need them.”

He wasn’t kidding. The best way to describe the volume of this heavy, shoegaze rock band is to imagine lying on your stomach on top of the engine of a 747, and lean your head over the edge towards the propellor. Your senses are going to be changed by the experience. It was by far the loudest show I’ve witnessed since Swans leveled some small buildings around Tremont Music Hall a few years ago. For those that came for the experience, it is what they wanted.

Whirr (10)

The entire evening, on the side stage of the Neighborhood Theatre, had the feel of a different time and place. The stage’s lighting was just a few blue-gelled bulbs overhead. This is the kind of lighting that frequently shows up in photographer’s nightmares, right next to the one where the photographer gets to heaven, and St. Peter turns out to be a college intern with a clipboard, saying, “you can come inside for the first three songs, but then you’ll have to leave.”


The second performer was some local shoegaze, the Serfs. The crowd for this Monday-night show was largest during the Serfs’ set. Wildhoney from Baltimore followed, and played an energetic set. The vocals of Wildhoney’s lead singer seemed more for coloring than a lead instrument, becoming another sound in the wave of guitars and volume.

Wildhoney (10)

That being said, I could make out the vocals during Wildhoney’s set; in the onslaught of Whirr’s wash of noise, to paraphrase Pink Floyd, the lips of Whirr’s singer did move, but I could not hear what he said.

Whirr (17)

The interest of pushing the harmonics to a point where sound becomes a physical force, has been with us for some time. My Bloody Valentine, the aforementioned Swans, all the way back to Blue Cheer. Some like it, some don’t. While I think that Whirr is a good band, seeing them live actually makes me want to hear their records. So I can actually hear the songs, instead of just the distortion. That can give you a better idea of the music, away from the experience. All of that being said, I’m glad that Charlotte audiences are finally getting to hear shows like this, after years of going elsewhere. Lord knows, if you were anywhere in Mecklenburg County on this night, chances are you heard this show.





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