British band takes over Austin


Austen Young

The Mohawk venue in Austin holds concert

Austen Young, Staff Writer

Black MIDI is a Japanese genre of music you get by layering loads of MIDI files over one another, to where the sounds are so dense that the notes come out so close together  a black blob of notes.

“black midi” (with the name coming from the genre of Black MIDI) is a London based experimental rock, prog, post-rock, noise rock, or probably any other rock sub genre band of three having only been around since 2019 that have garnished a dedicated underground fanbase and have seen great critical success.

Back in early 2022, with the announcement of their 3rd record “Hellfire”, they had also announced a huge North American tour titled the “Back In Black Tour”, which I just had to get tickets to on an excited whim. That was nearly 4 months ago, but now, it’s time for the show, so let me talk about my experience as a general concertgoer that lots of people don’t really get to experience.

It’s the night of Friday, September 16, when I arrive a little past 8:00 p.m. at The Mohawk in Austin, a smaller venue than others that I’ve been to, but still a fantastic venue that fits these bands very well. 

After sitting in line for a while, the doors finally opened and I got into the venue a couple minutes later, where you first get to see the outdoor stage with all of the bands instruments laying out, along with the merch booth with the shirts of both respected bands.

The merch booth was stocked full of silly “black midi” shirts, but I ended up buying an “I <3 black midi” tee, the one shirt that I didn’t get was a version of the Waffle House logo that just said black midi, so there were some very odd but fun merch designs. I found a really good spot towards the front left, right next to the stage where I would be waiting quite a while until the show actually started.

The Mohawk venue is formatted with a medium sized floor area and then an upstairs where you can get a better view, with there also being sparse spots right next to the stage.  The floor is where I was the whole time and it really is the true “black midi” experience.

The opener, “Black Country, New Road”, ended up going on at about 9:15 p.m. and they were a fantastic pick as openers. “BC,NR” is also a band from London consisting of six members– they’ve been friends with “black midi” for a while now.

I’ve been a big “BC,NR” fan for a while now. I remember listening to their debut when it first came out in 2020 and being absolutely blown away, so I was really excited to get to see them live.

My one worry going into this though was how “BC,NR” was going to work past their lead singer, Isaac Woods, leaving the band for mental health reasons. Isaac was one of the leading forces of the band, with his unique voice and large range, so without him I was worried it was going to feel empty.

I was wrong though–they worked around it really well with the singing being split between pianist May Kershaw, saxophonist Lewis Evans, and bassist Tyler Hyde with them all having unique and beautiful vocals.

The band played over an hour long set of only new material with all of it being great, the band was energetic, sweet, and interacted with the audience a whole lot. Then, after they left the stage, more royalty free jazz music played, and the wait began once more. This one was even longer and more excruciating as people began to get rowdy after the around 30 minute wait.

Then, the lights dimmed and from the darkness the disembodied announcer’s voice came from the 10 foot tall speakers “Introducing the super ultra colossal weight champions, the hardest working band in showbiz, BLACK “HELLFIRE” MIDI!!!”.  The crowd was ecstatic from the amazing intro… then the band didn’t even come on for another five minutes.  Yeah, after the announcers intro the entirety of “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve played before the band actually made an entrance, but that made it all the more worth it.

There they were, Morgan Simpson on drums, lead vocalist and guitarist Geordie Greep, bassist and vocalist Cameron Picton, and touring keyboardist Seth Evans, all in the flesh.  Even after the delay the crowd was going wild, as soon as the riff for “Speedway” began the whole crowd turned into a wave of concertgoers bouncing around as the floor turned into one big mosh. 

There was no order, it was one huge unkempt beast and it was a blast. 

The thing that differentiates this show from others that I’ve been to is that it wasn’t a mosh pit where it’s only one small part of the crowd pushing one another around, the whole bottom floor was overwhelmed with getting pushed back and forth no matter where you go.  People would come shooting out from the center at a crazy speed and knock into people just trying to watch from afar.

Where things really started to go down was when they played “Welcome to Hell”, one of their most popular singles, this is where it became overwhelming.  The crowd were wild animals, I was getting pushed everywhere as the crowd formed into a full fledged brawl through the power of Geordies vocals and the booming instrumental taking over. 

This was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a show.

“Dangerous Liaisons” was when the crowd learned they could crowd surf as people were lifted into the air and thrown around like beach balls in a hurricane.  It was a nice, calmer little intermission before the storm that is “953”.

“953” is the opener to their 2019 album “Schlagenheim” and it is one of their most hectic and abrasive tracks they’ve made which pushed everyone over the edge, I was getting thrashed around like a rag doll having to push people off me as I pushed my way into the center of the group.  That riff along with Morgan’s drumming had possessed the whole crowd with its sheer magnitude in a frenzy and it was such a fun experience, but the exhaustion in everybody was beginning to kick in.

Trying to record this song was pointless because of how much my phone was getting hit around and how shaky everything was. 

Afterwards, Morgan Simpson did a fun little cover of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” that got the crowd having a good time without going too crazy.  “Still” followed that, which got the crowd engaged with this super sweet, slower track. Cameron’s vocals are really good live and it especially shows through on this one.  I love the storytelling on this track and it’s even more indulging and lively.

Then Cameron played a not as sweet song, “Eat Men Eat”.  This is one of my favorite songs from their last album, it has a really good story of coal miners being hunted down by their vampiric captain in this dense and spooky track that’s even better live.  Followed by the harsh and cultish “John L” with its booming bass lines and cryptic lyrics, and “The Defence” with its beautiful lushness.

Ending the show off with “Near DT,MI” in a perfect, chaotic way the band truly finished it off by dancing on the stage to “Suavemente” for a bit and they were gone. 

Afterwards the crowd left the venue in a stinky, sweat drenched herd bound towards their cars after an absolute blast of an experience.

Overall, I had such a great time, sure it was a bit much at times, but it’s just a unique experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in an environment despite its aggressiveness, feels like everyone coming together to have a great time.