Cigarettes After Sex: howling night swim

The singer and guitarist Greg Rodríguez, who is most responsible for generating, with his androgynous voice, an ethereal musical experience

Swimming at night: The title of the book of the writer, translator and publisher Juan Forn (died in Villa Gesell in mid-2021) made into a film in 1997 (Night Watch) by the filmmaker marcos carnevale. Or that Argentinean gothic rock band, with a symphonic influence, formed at the end of the 20th century.

Swim at night. The perfect synthesis of the show Cigarettes After Sex, the musical trio from El Paso, Texas -which came to the country for the third time- and submerged the viewer in that dream pop universe (or ethereal wave, branch of the dark wave) with shoegaze stilettos to which they combined, live, visuals with images facials, storms and even a dark sea. Calm and hypnotic, just like the group proposal.

A sun rises slowly on the horizon of that black and calm sea that Cigarettes After Sex combines with its staging
A sun rises slowly on the horizon of that black and calm sea that Cigarettes After Sex combines with its staging

When the lineup for the festival’s sideshows was announced Lollapalooza 2023 (they also played this Friday the 17th, closing the Alternative stage at the San Isidro Hippodrome), several celebrated the initiative since this band has an unavoidable indoor character and, as a good challenge, we will have to see how their art takes shape outdoors and with great public scale.

In Vorterix, two TV screens escorted the stage, one with the prices of the drinks that were sold in the place and another asking to “take care of your belongings”, since several cell phone thefts were recorded in that place during the concerts, as he was able to verify this chronicler in the last date with dark music: The Mission UK.

Punctually, at 9:00 p.m., the lights went out but, over the pub, several cold light bulbs remain on, which, together with the lighting of the aforementioned screens, broke with the intimacy of a show that is ideal to see it in the dark in the public sector and “get” fully into the group’s immersive proposal. A commitment to crime prevention?

The theme “Crush”, in the Cigarettes After Sex show at the Vorterix theater in 2019

The beginning with crush let see the image of the singer and guitarist Greg Gonzalezthe bass player Randall Miller and the drummer Jacob Tomsky like a triad that, sheathed in black, becomes invisible in a minimalist staging.

Cigarettes After Sex seems not to want to transcend a particular moment, they are timeless. They do not leave records of video clips, the careful aesthetics in the design of the cover of their albums, online releases and website is homogeneous (only the name of the group and a black and white image appear) and even the costumes of the musicians in concert , over the years, is similar. The synthesis of a group suspended in amber with music as the only protagonist and without fanfare.

Precisely, his low profile and solemnity contrasted with the youthful fury of the night in Colegiales. During the evening of Wednesday, more than one will have wished to have a button to mute to the noisy ones, because CAF is a band to be enjoyed in silence, without barriers other than the voice and instrumentation that starts from the stage.

Jacob Tomsky, Greg González and Randall Miller in the internal corridors of the Vorterix
Jacob Tomsky, Greg González and Randall Miller in the internal corridors of the Vorterix

At the beginning of each “hit” by Cigarettes… (or, rather, their most listened to songs on the Spotify platform) as Apocalypse, K. (with the image on the screen of the face of a sad woman, with a tear that slowly falls down one of her cheeks) or Sunsetz, the high-pitched screams, mostly female, seemed closer to that of a concert show. Chano, tini either Lali Esposito.

And the obligatory question falls out of maturity: what is the need to break the intimate and almost dreamlike climate that Cigarettes After Sex generates, with empty hysterical sounds? Rodriguez is indifferent, and even seems annoyed, with these reactions from the public. The applause – after the closing of each song – is the fair measure of approval.

It is ideal to see these types of bands in their larval state, before the massiveness does its thing, as happened in the return -in 2017- of the BUE Festival in Tecnópolis. There, Cigarettes After Sex presented their first self-titled album, released that year, and they had already released their art in dragees, with singles like Yo (2012), affection, K. and apocallypseall from 2015, and Every Time You Fall In Love, one year later. A piece of information: from the founding of the group, to their full-length debut, eight years passed, an analogy of the calm with which they execute (and characterize) their proposal both in studio and live.

Cigarettes After Sex and their song “Apocalypse”, the most popular of the group

In the perimeter of the central space of Vorterix, with a low ceiling where any sound bounced and amplified, the talks between some attendees was recurring as if the group that came on stage were not there, beyond their ghostly vein.

With a sold out, reflected in the difficulty of being able to see the group with a certain comfort, several chose to go down towards the central space of the venue and escape from the suffocating heat that caused two simultaneous fainting among the public. Greg stopped the show and pointed to both points of the field, while several hands, which surrounded the fainted, pointed to them to help them. The thumbs up -and the fingers forming little hearts- were the sign of approval that everything was fine and the show had to go on. A scare that did not happen to majors.

A Vorterix sold out was present for the third visit of the Americans to the country
A Vorterix sold out was present for the third visit of the Americans to the country

It was time to plunge into that dark, ethereal and shoegazing sea, like the one seen on the screens -crossed by a monochrome dawn- while the androgynous whispers of González (influenced by the singer-songwriter and model Francoise Hardy) did their thing during 15 songs played over 70 minutes, the exact measure for a live download of this type.

The silences and gaps that Cigarettes After Sex generates in each song, together with the measured rhythm of their art, mark the heart of a musical genre that has been going on for three decades now. beloved sons of my bloody valentine either The Jesus and Mary Chainadded to gothic rock streaks and a certain cadence along Dead Can Dancegrants Texans the cucarda of a vintage but current band, a sign of irreproachable worship for a group formed 15 years ago.

with an aesthetic film noir, the imperceptible speed of the projected images goes hand in hand with the sound and movements of their leader. Greg seems to floatwalks the stage in slow motion, does not talk to his colleagues and, when he addresses the respectable, he does it between his teeth just to thank or present a topic.

Its sparingness live resembles that of Andrew Eldritchthe leader of The Sisters of Mercy, another clear musical and aesthetic reference to the El Paso group, which even has an identical typeface, in its logo, to that of the iconic Englishmen from Leeds. And if we talk about t-shirts, one of those present wears the one from the album floodland (key piece of TSOM) although the inevitable of Unknown Pleasuresmotherboard of the mythical Joy Division.

A rose or an electrical storm -which seems to mix with the smoke that comes out of the stage- mixes technology and humanity in Cigarettes After Sex that had a clear sound but with a certain reverberation in the keyboard effects where the absence of the keyboardist Phillip Tubbs it was supplied with the firing of sequences.

The musical triangle on a bare stage
The musical triangle on a bare stage

The dragged and melancholic pop of the Americans -with a self-titled album + cry (2019), in his musical record- he meandered the encores (opera house and dreaming of you) bringing to light a mirror ball that illuminated the entire Colegiales campus and gave the disco touch to the night, oblivious to the prevailing sobriety.

During another passage of the show, cell phone flashlights broke the gloom and showed a González – with half-closed eyes – moving back towards the back of the stage, like a musical vampire. And thus take refuge in his guitar and the dreamlike-musical darkness that he exudes.

A mirror ball breaks the darkness and gives a disco patina to a memorable evening
A mirror ball breaks the darkness and gives a disco patina to a memorable evening

Keep reading:

Jane’s Addiction and music as a fountain of youth: “We like being older men”
Lollapalooza Argentina: everything you need to know to enjoy it to the fullest
Music, gastronomy and experiences: Lollapalooza 2023 arrives, the most anticipated mega-festival of the year

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