New Criticals

Both shows at Bowery Ballroom and Warsaw were essentially the same, from the setlist to the physical cues Gira would do during each song (swirling arms might signal the players to make a wild noise in unison, and a kick would often abruptly indicate a song’s conclusion). Both sets began with each member coming on stage one by one to the swells of Thor Harris banging a gong. Next, drummer Phil Puleo emerged and added some shimmering cymbal crescendos like waves coming in and receding. Then slide guitarist Chrisoph Hahn with the assistance of an e-bow contributed to the expanding sound. Next, bassist Christopher Pavdica, then Gira and founding member Norman Westberg armed with guitars, brought chords in and out of the cacophony with their volume dials. And after settling into a swaying and increasingly unsettling sound, a beat begins to emerge and then somehow after something like a half hour, you’ve arrived at the meat of a currently unreleased song “Frankie M.” which itself continues to buildup toward an unforeseeable, driving conclusion.