I’ve been in the game a minute, and if there’s one thing that great bands do, it is cultivate a community. Not fans or “friends”, or “followers” –  I mean something much more basic, humane; the point of a stage is not to climb up & grin in the spotlight but use it to communicate (and create) us, our little vulnerable selves and the power that happens when we gather, talk, dance, build. How else we gonna survive? Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a very good case in point.

Bands are social microcosms, little mobile ways of being — if it’s just turning up to 11 and getting wasted on beer each night, you may as well be writing the history of ice.

Find us playing this weekend. Many friends gathering.



2 thoughts on “THE HISTORY OF ICE”


    GY!BE in Toronto, 2001. I’m not sure when it was, exactly. Sometime just after 9/11. A month? A few weeks? Time numbed by media. The dates are a muddle. I remember standing near the stage, closing my eyes, wanting to take in everything, hold it for a moment undistracted by other sensory modalities. Slow and tiny, barely there, a strike against silence, the music built. No one spoke, no one danced. I felt the unmistakable feeling that i was Watching Something. Not the usual distance of performer/audience (spectacle/consumer), but watching an act of tremendous communicative intensity, of something larger than individual guitars, drums, bass, strings, voice. I was hearing an assemblage speak it’s tentative syllables, something lurching and terrible, beautiful and strange. Faster, the music built. Bows quaking over strings, feedback, swirls of cymbal crash. A cacophony of splinters, faster now again, squalling, shrieking: a symphony for fractured planet, its fractured peoples. I stood there rapt, just listening (and how often do we really just listen?); sight was the first to go. Smell, taste, touch: all distractions. The music was now a jumble of intensities, an amalgam of passions, something loose and tidal, gargantuan. It strained against the ancient walls, burst through sealed windows + eyes. I replayed a thousand newsreels of burning buildings against the windscreen of my eyelids. We all did. We were awakened into a new world, a world whose contours and angles we did not yet know. The crowd knew war was in the offing and had gathered here, not to forget, but to coalesce into something larger; as above, so below. The music stopped. Silence. A voice from the stage, behind the bright lights, bathed in the flickering of projected photographs: “WORLD LEADERS SAY SHOPPING IS A PATRIOTIC ACT.” And then, instantly, music again, louder, passionate, beautiful, voiceless. Goosebumps snaked across my arms and i looked out the window toward the lake, black and impenetrable, an endless oilslick reflecting light pollution, satellites, stars.

    I don’t remember much else in the way of specifics, but later, as i left the concerthall and felt the cool of night against my skin, i knew i was changed. Nothing would be the same again. I had seen history, our history, banged out of a guitar, beaten from a drum. Wordless histories tell no lies: truth as soundtrack. The water rippled, the road crew straining beneath amplifiers. I started to walk home, feeling alive and dread in equal measure. A world reborn in plane crashes and promises of revenge and this, the music whose beauty and terror mirrored this slouching epoch like the water did the sky, was its birth cry.

    A week later, war was declared. And we played the record again.

  2. you’re a little late on that history of ice…Newsweek writer Mariana Gosnell’s “Ice” came out in 2006 and it’s actually quite fascinating

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