On this Tuesday night, a significant number of spectators had been drawn to the Kantine next to Berlin’s famous nightclub Berghain to experience Warm Graves live. The 200 capacity place was well filled with mostly young and stylish people eager to see the Leipzig threepiece bring their dark, haunting and other-worldly space-rock to the stage. The most important question for me personally was how and whether they would recreate the distinctive choir vocals heard on the 2014 debut album Ships Will Come, but also of course what their show would be like in terms of visuals and performance.
The atmosphere was largely a detached one, with the audience listening attentively and the band never addressing them with a single word, perhaps not even a glance. Instead they were fully focussed on the drums, keys and guitar setup, with the vocals being provided by the guitarist and altered to create that faraway sound. Still the effect on the recordings was not achieved and perhaps intentionally so. Instead the live setting added a more raw and emotional quality to the vocals, making them sound pained and honest rather than ethereal and bodiless like on the album. This gave their music an interesting twist.
The small club did not allow for a massive light show of course, but the backdrop was still illuminated by psychedelic projections that went well with the music. It was noteable how absorbed the audience seemed, without moving much; everyone was so concentrated that from where I stood I never saw a single smartphone in the air, which is very untypical these days but perhaps this is a first indicator that constant filming and photographing are becoming a no-go, finally. In the end I almost felt bad taking a mandatory picture to go with this review.
To conclude, I was glad to have seen them live because I found the album fascinating in many ways and was intrigued to see their live performance in comparison. However, it could have been more emotionally gripping if the band had not been this introverted, but of course not every musician has an outgoing stage presence. In this way they seemed to match their audience and the atmosphere was a rather intellectual one and not so much about letting yourself go to the music.