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Atlas Sound at the Biltmore Cabaret

Atlas Sound Vancouver review

Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound at the Biltmore Cabaret, Oct 30 2010. Jon Healy photo

Review and photos – Atlas Sound at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct 30 2009

– review by Alex Hudson/photos by Jon Healy

“This is a little awkward for me because, like I said, I’m short a band tonight.” And that, in a nutshell, was Atlas Sound‘s performance on Friday night at the Biltmore.

These words, mumbled by singer-songwriter Bradford Cox, came halfway through a disastrous set, in which Cox struggled to contend with a talkative audience, many of whom seemed to be waiting for co-headliner Broadcast to take the stage. Given that he is used to performing as part of the atmospheric punk outfit Deerhunter, Cox was understandably rattled by the chatty crowd during his unaccompanied acoustic performance.

Still, there’s no excusing the utter shitstorm that ensued. Cox had several tantrums during the set, berating the crowd and comparing the performance to “working in a mall and being covered in fucking vomit.” Despite his ranting, the talking went on unabated, prompting Cox to yell at the audience to “shut up” because “the loud-ass fucking chatter is drowning me out.” And, after one concert-goer heckled him to stop talking and play a song, Cox responded “Why don’t you come up here and suck my fucking dick?”

It was a bit like watching a car crash continuously for 90 minutes. When the frazzled singer actually got around to playing a song, the results were enjoyable enough. “Walkabout” held up well in stripped-down form, harmonized guitar loops and pulsing swells of ambience replacing the upbeat bounce of the studio cut. “My Halo” was even more bare-bones, its simple strumming and wheezing harmonica sounding closer to Bob Dylan than the electronic atmospherics that Cox is usually known for. Still, it was tough to fully appreciate any of it, due to the tension that hung over the entire evening.

Close to the end of the set, Cox attempted to make peace with the devotees in the front row by playing “Shelia” on request. Still, the sentiment seemed a little empty when he ended the song by croaking, “Justice is coming for you, you fucking cunts.” He wrapped up the set with the title track off the recently-released Logos, after which he regaled the crowd with nearly a minute of facetious thank-yous. It was a fittingly painful end to a nightmare of a set, but I suppose it could have been worse – at least he didn’t play an encore.

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7 responses to “Atlas Sound at the Biltmore Cabaret

  1. 10 years ago  

    It was a good set. His outburst was sincere and warranted.

  2. 10 years ago  

    Any show I’ve been to has people talking way at the *back of the room*, he needs to get his head out of his arse. I WAS looking forward to hearing him after being recommended by many friends and liking what I’d checked out online, but that immature outburst completely ruined it for me.

  3. 10 years ago  

    I know you want to pretend that you were a part of a ‘meltdown’ show but that just isn’t the case.

    ‘car crash’? He played for 90 minutes by himself (apart from the first 25 improvising with broadcast) with maybe 10 minutes of bitching at the audience. Please tell me….What is a performer to do when the audience is louder than them?

    the biltmore has had this problem for every show i’ve seen there in the past few years besides the loud ones. The crowd completely drowns out any quieter artists and it ruins the set.

    it was a good show, and for me Atlas sound was still the highlight. Those [hundred or so] people deserved all the bitching, they were rude and should have left.

  4. 10 years ago  

    His outburst was warranted but I don’t blame the crowd for talking. I’ve been a fan of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound for some time and was expecting at least some of the more ethereal side of his music to leak into the solo set. Nope, we got limp version after limp version of songs off those well-regarded records. I saw him at the Pitchfork fest a year back and it was the same deal. If he can’t get a whole band to play with him, then he should just not play, or he should headline these shows so that his more attentive fans can watch without worrying about crowd chatter. A Friday night crowd at the Biltmore is not interested in him limply and quietly going through his songs. He should’ve just played at a coffee shop, because that’s where that shit belongs. It’s too bad that his records require so much studio trickery, which then makes his music hard to pull of without 5 other people and 25 pedals.

  5. 10 years ago  

    What David said. The thing is the tunes he played were solid. I’d say it was a treat seeing him do a solo set like that. Got to hear acoustic versions of songs you wouldn’t get to hear otherwise. The tantrum made for an interesting night. Maybe he didn’t need to freak out as much as he did because the people at the front were fully into it. I wouldn’t think an Atlas Sound or Deerhunter show would be predictable and this one sure wasn’t. That’s Rock and Roll baby.

  6. 10 years ago  


    i WAS that dude who told him to shut the fuck up and play some music. first of all, i want to apologize to anyone who i may have offended but i was drunk and brad cox went a little word crazy on stage. don’t get me wrong, i love atlas sound/deerhunter, but the guy is the most egotistical preformer i’ve ever seen! i wasn’t going to let him shit all over the vancouver audience just because he thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread. we paid the ticket price, you got paid whatever it is you get paid, what the fuck do you care what we do?

    i think that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize about this city; we drudge around in the rain 300 days a year, half the year our days end before 5pm, there isn’t a whole LOT to do in this city (outside of music, movies and the odd art show) so a show like this is a major social outlet for a lot of people in the city. we need to talk. the performers should be glad we’re there! if we hated you, we wouldn’t come. but we do and usually in pretty large numbers. i mean fuck you bradford cox, but your job isn’t exactly difficult. you live in a dream world if you think your job is like working at the mall. i’ve worked at the goddamn mall and it’s certainly no tour with broadcast!

    and no, i won’t suck your fucking dick. i paid you for the show, why don’t you suck mine?

    again, sorry to those who felt like the fighting ruined the show, but really, if that was your take, you need to lower your nose from the air a bit and join the rest of us on the ground. nobody likes a music snob.


  7. 10 years ago  

    Cox’s outbursts were hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though he was being a bit dramatic.

    Though I went to this show on a first date with my now girlfriend and future wife, so I’m a little rose-tinted. 🙂

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