This Is Not This Heat played Brooklyn (review, setlist) after Pitchfork (video)
In a recent interview with Charles Hayward, one of two living members of the original lineup of This Heat, he poetically described the band's reunion as "the distance between the event and sometime later." His sentiment reflects the loss of original multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Gareth Williams, who died of cancer in 2001, and who helped to create This Heat and Deceit, two records of boundary-pushing post-punk that, until fairly recently, were largely experienced only by vintage vinyl obsessives. And while the two remaining members tour with an ensemble of four musicians to make up for Williams' absence, their rebirth into the modern world was marked nonetheless by a new moniker, This Is Not This Heat, to signify the immutability of their original recordings.
But last night at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works, from the very first dissonant notes of "Test Card/Horizontal Hold," it was plain to see that This Is Not This Heat is just as much a living, breathing collective as it is an homage to one of Britain's most eclectic and innovative experimental rock groups. Strobing white lights gave the opening songs of the set, which largely covered their self-titled debut, a newfound immediacy and intensity. The controlled chaos of the discordant electric piano and clarinet dominated earlier songs of the set, before Hayward's hypnotic chanting captured the audience during "Not Waving." By "Twilight Furniture," Hayward was fully locked into his massive drum kit, beaming the entire time as if in awe of the crowd.
Guitarist (and other original This Heat member) Charles Bullen, too, looked up just a few times during the set in wonderment, as if in disbelief of the crowd that came out for a band that just barely broke into the UK Indie charts over thirty years ago. The ensemble musicians, which included Sunn O))) live member Daniel O'Sullivan (who contributed vocals, as well as looping on the guitar and a Roland electric piano), as well as clarinetist and guitarist Alex Ward, percussionist Frank Byng, and guitarist James Sedwards (of Nought and the Thurston Moore Band), honored the basic structure and composition of the songs while still leaving room, as the band did in their first incarnation, for improvisation. Bullen and Hayward led the way on notable jams, including an lengthy (though not 30-minute) snare drum solo from Hayward during "Rainforest."
The performance also highlighted the band's progressive values; Hayward has said that Deceit was heavily influenced by the nuclear threat hanging over the world at the height of the Cold War. But fears of state violence and political extremism are, unfortunately, evergreen, and lent new weight to the band's profound incantations of the Declaration of Independence ("Independence"). After the song finished, Hayward solemnly remarked, "Stay positive. It's for all of us." All told, the band played an impressive 18-song set, ending, as in past performances, with "Health and Efficiency." At that song's end, many in the crowd waited in hopes of an encore. While none came, the cheers still roared throughout Pioneer Works. This Is Not This Heat are still playing with fire, here with an audience to match.
The Pioneer Works show followed This is Not This Heat's set at Pitchfork Fest over the weekend. Check out full video from Pitchfork, plus a gallery of pics from that set, below. Pioneer Works setlist is below as well.
SETLIST: This is Not This Heat @ Pioneer Works 7/23/2018
Music Like Escaping Gas
Fall Of Saigon
New Kind of Water
Rimp Romp Ramp
24 Track Loop
Health and Efficiency