It was somehow fitting that Birmingham UK's Editors brought their particular brand of doom 'n' gloom to Chicago on one of the most infamous and heartbreaking days in all of American history. Because in some ways, Tom Smith & Co.'s tales of abandon, loss, frustration and hopelessness, albeit set in doomed UK steel towns, mirror exactly the sentiments most of the populace were feeling on that fateful day six years ago. Similarly, the strains of redemption that peek through the cold, matte black cracks of the band's otherwise pummeling oeuvre are also indicative of the fight many of us have waged in the years since, struggling to regain a grip on a reality that, in the blink of an eye, has been inexplicably changed forever.
We missed Ra Ra Riot due to timing issues, but hear from the table next to us that they were, "great". Who are we to argue?
If openers Biffy Clyro didn't exactly set the stage for what was to come, they at least made a fantastic racket in the meanwhile. The Scottish trio, fresh off their summer long stint on the Vans Warped Tour, emerged shirtless and with guitars and hair a flailing, evoking images, both visual and sonic, of Hawkwind circa wild and wooly 1974. The crowd, a bit taken aback by the sheer ferocity of Biffy's attack, looked on slightly stunned, clapping almost as if they were afraid the hirsute Scots were going to leap down off the stage and rip them to pieces if they didn't. Tearing through the better part of forthcoming long-player Puzzle as well as a clutch of older tunes, the band weaved their way through a complex tapestry of hard rock, prog-metal, baroque pop and just about every major musical touchstone in-between. They were a welcome, if somewhat unexpected (for most of the audience, anyway) addition to the proceedings.
After a brief set change that included a (clearly) house-made mix of Britpop (Spiritualized, Morrissey but sadly no Mansun or Hurricane #1) Editors took the stage under the cover of darkness and a whirl of purple tracer-beams. Looking ever more like a mad scientist that broke free of the lab, Tom Smith and his bandmates stormed into a frantic version of "Bones" that began with a rousing drum call that sounded like the pounding of the gods, culminating in a flurry of arpeggiated guitar and Smith's near-trademark flailing, then diving straight into a ferocious reading of "Bullets" that sounded like a squadron of panzer tanks stampeding though the countryside, obliterating every last thing in sight until Smith sighed in faux-pain "you don't need this disease/no/you don't need this disease/you don't". From there, they proceeded to, with workman-like precision, dash through a set that included blood-boiling crowd favourites ("Munich" and "All Sparks"), emboldened newer tracks that are quickly becoming live gigantors ("An End Has a Start" and "The Racing Rats") and a ravenous closing one-two punch ("Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" and "Fingers in the Factories") that had the packed house on its collective feet raving and shaking like they were being healed by a televangelist in order to 'send those demons awayyy'.
In the end, the night was a dark and foreboding, but ultimately, joyful, journey with a band that has a strangely powerful connection to the human condition, in all its various guises.