:: Article

We Need to Talk About Kevin

By Adelle Stripe.

My Bloody Valentine at Camden Roundhouse, 21st June 2008.

It is the summer solstice. Fittingly, for the longest night of the year – I am watching (for the first time) a band who I have never heard live. In 1992 I bought a copy of Loveless on vinyl, ate (yes, ate) an eighth of red seal, turned it up to 10 and listened. I think this was the first time I had heard music like that. I wanted to be sick, I wanted to cry, I wanted to escape, or masturbate, or die — but I couldn’t escape from the music of angels.

There were waves, loud, soft, and hundreds of layers, and in each track I could hear new sounds of water, ice, and fuzz becoming feedback. And tonight, for the first time in sixteen years I have revisited that feeling. It may be verging on rock & roll cliché, but MBV equate to an out-of-body experience.

Of course, The Roundhouse is full of people like me, gasping at the blue optic fibre visuals, remembering the first time they slept under the stars. It’s a microdot dream without side effects. The only thing I need here and now is a set of fresh earplugs. I think, perhaps this is the loudest gig I have ever been to. I’ve put my head in bass bins at Shaka all nighters, watched five gigs a week for ten years — tinnitus is the first and last thing I hear every morning and night. But MBV, according to the sound desk, manage to put out 130 db of sound.

I am standing at the back of The Roundhouse, but during “When You Wake You’re Still In A Dream” I am starting to shake from the floor. And by the time they hit the twenty-three minute version of “You Made Me Realise”, this is the equivalent of standing under a jet plane taking off. The sound is so loud that I want to vomit, but somehow I start to wonder if Kevin Shields planned this all along? Purification via noise terrorism. I can feel every vein in my body. From the spleen outwards my head pounds, and fingers shake.

This is unlike any noise I have ever heard. I can see a pregnant woman, and I am worrying about her unborn child. I wonder what he thinks of this.

MBV are a band who stand still and don’t talk to the crowd. They are the antithesis of a posing balls-out Dionysian rock God, but every bit as important as Iggy Pop. I think I can apply the theories of Death of the Author to this, because it really doesn’t matter who is stood up there on the stage, it’s the relationship between sound and audience that is important, not the people who make it. MBV could be cardboard cut outs; Shields, Googe, O’Ciosoig and Butcher make themselves irrelevant. Ego is nowhere to be heard in their sound; it is a perfect Ying/Yang balance of male and female. The harsh droning guitar and furiously brilliant drumming underpins their classical ethereal vocals — reminiscent of Calvinist chapel chorals from the 18th century.


I can’t see the band play either, but that doesn’t matter, I am watching the catatonic visuals of super 8 running through country lanes, and of naked women falling through corridors. They are playing “Soon”, “Feed Me With Your Kiss”, “Lose My Breath”, “Only Shallow”, “To Here Knows When” and I am overwhelmed by beauty. Right here and now I am lifting from the floor, and feeling sickness and love wash all over me. I want to cry again like I cried the first time I heard Loveless. I am touching the arms of the man I love and I think to myself there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be now. There is no moment in time I would rather experience than sundown at solstice watching MBV…

Only Shallow
When You Sleep
You Never Should
When You Wake
Lose My Breath
I Only Said
Come In Alone
Nothing Much to Lose
To Here Knows When
Blown a Wish
Feed Me With Your Kiss
Sue is Fine
You Made Me Realise


Adelle Stripe is a performance poet/fiction writer from Tadcaster, UK. Her work has appeared in Full Moon Empty Sports Bag, Laura Hird, 3:AM, Vomit In The Mainstream, Rising Poetry, Scarecrow, and Savage Kick. She edits the definitive Brutalist weblog, Straight From The Fridge and will one day release her secrets to the world in paperback under the banner “Things I Never Told Anyone”. Adelle hopes to retire to the country and become the only female professional rat catcher in the north, sometime before her 35th birthday.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, June 30th, 2008.