Pelican | Live Review

By Serena Cherry

Amidst the anticipation in The Cooler for Chicago’s instrumental post metal stalwarts ‘Pelican‘, their is also apprehension over which version of the band Pelican we are going to see tonight. Anyone with ears trained to sub genres that begin with the word ‘post’ will be able to notice the split down the middle in Pelican’s discography.

The question is, are we about to witness the early expansive post rock they released on Hydrahead; or the heavier stoner post-metal they have released on Southern Lord since 2009? The question is answered as soon as they start – with the first three downtuned chords of ‘Ataraxia’, the title track of their latest E.P release. From here on, the four piece gradually whip up a head-nodding response for their recent sludgy grooves, and stick to playing their 2012 E.P in it’s entirety before delving into ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Far from Fields’, which still continue along in the muddy veins of the typical Southern Lord sound.

Yet, by avoiding to play 9 years worth of their slightly more varied earlier material; Pelican’s self-limited set begins to veer into a dully repetitive, rather than wonderfully hypnotic, trance.

The lack of change in their distorted musical dynamic renders the band a frustratingly flat live entity when endured for over an hour. Just one of the enchanting interludes of clean guitar they demonstrated on their 2006 album ‘The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw’ would have given so much contrast and impact to the heavy side they are displaying this evening; and yet the band choose not to play anything from that masterpiece tonight.

Thus, half way into their half arsed set, and half of the crowd are talking all over them. But when you combine a one-dimensional set with the bands lack of ability to visually engage the audience; then the result is going to be nothing but an underwhelming shame.