Okay, here’s another offering from my backlog of concerts I’ve been meaning to post. This early October performance comes courtesy of Texas dream-pop auteurs Cigarettes After Sex, who played to a sold out crowd at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on 10.03.19.
I figured this would be a good one to write up, as their new album “Cry” was released today. These El Paso residents performed two tracks from the latest, “Heavenly” and “Falling in Love,” continuing their tradition of ethereal slowcore ambience and soft-spoken shoegaze – at least, where it concerns their live renditions.
The former feels straight out of a Julee Cruise/Twin Peaks dreamscape, the latter seems steeped in a laid back intensity that never quite climaxes, but still leaves you satisfied. Both have been released as singles, prior to “Cry,” so their appearance in the setlist carried familiarity.
Here’s both, showcased in minimalistic light and striking projections.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Heavenly” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Falling in Love” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
There’s something about Cigarettes After Sex live, that really feels singular and of the moment, captivating and hypnotic, a subtle slice of sweet and sentimental guitar-driven slow-pop. On album, they seem almost too mellow and subdued to even fathom as a live performance, certainly not one that would keep you moving on your feet, as much as being lulled into a melancholic sleep.
But that’s not the case. They infuse every track with a concentrated intensity, as chill as it may be, luring you into a hazy trance of euphoric relaxation. It’s like having an unexpected splash of calming mist on a hot sunny day, all while rolling on a pure bit of pharmaceutical molly. It’s beautiful stuff, romantic, sentimental, slightly sad, touch-feely, and often otherworldly and other-timely.
I remember not knowing a great deal about them, and catching their show early last year at the Fonda in Hollywood. They performed this amazing rendition of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You,” which was like a childhood anthem in my youth. And they paired it up with their original track, “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby,” that almost feels like an unreleased Mazzy Star song, dreamy, folksy, vintage in a starry eyed wonder of sweet leisurely melody.
They performed both together for this performance.
Cigarettes After Sex perform REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
I guess I’m just a sucker for their noirish romance, love songs filled with calming atmosphere and overt melancholy, swimming and drowning in blissful, broody enchantments, and spangling glitter-lit textures of velvet and satin.
Much of their instrumentalism reminds me of Robin Guthries’ guitarwork, either post-Cocteau Twins, or during. There’s an echo-ey shimmer to their timeless nostalgic scintillations of sound, spacious but intimate, soothing in the way a lullaby eases you into a warm deliberate slumber.
Most of their set contained some variation of this, as you’ll see in these featured bits from their Wiltern show.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Crush” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Affection” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “K” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19..
There’s also the fan favorites, “Each Time You Fall in Love,” which sounds just as melancholic as its title suggests, and “Apocalypse,” which is perhaps the closest these guys get to an upbeat pop song – and I mean that in the loosest of terms.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Each Time You Fall in Love” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Apocalypse” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
And then there’s “Dreaming of You,” which closed the show with a surprising bit of sonic shoegaze guitar-infused bluster, not quite a wall of sound, unless, of course, it’s made of sparkling feathers and fur. It’s definitely something I’d like to see more of, offering a slightly more urgent intensity as organic counterpoint to the oft-dreamy ethereality. It seems like a logical progression.
Cigarettes After Sex perform “Dreaming of You” at the Wiltern Theatre on 10.03.19.
That’s the Cigarettes After Sex show at the Wiltern. I’ve got a setlist that covers all these tunes, as well as a few others I didn’t include in this post. So relax and enjoy the laid back romance of their slow rolling slumber. Until next time …