Live Review: Cigarettes After Sex

QMU, 14/11

Imagine this: you are home in a relaxed and perhaps nostalgic mood, so you decide to listen to some music. You open YouTube or Spotify to discover Cigarettes After Sex, press play and all of a sudden Gonzalez’s androgynous voice expands into the empty space and crashes the silence of the empty room. The dark and sensual aesthetic of the music makes you feel like you are starring in an art noir movie, and while you picture yourself exhaling the smoke out of your lungs, you really wish you could see them live one day. Formed in El Paso, Texas by Greg Gonzalez in 2008, Cigarettes After Sex create songs that could accompany any tender, loving, or calm moment of your life.

Now imagine this: it’s 19:00 and you’ve just walked into the QMU for their sold out gig. The room is full of people of all ages overenthusiastically waiting for the band to come on stage and start performing. You push your way through the crowd and find yourself front row where you can observe the stage better and have a closer look at them – the quartet play quietly while the bearded/moustached Gonzalez mumbles between songs and sings with his eyes closed, contrasting the energy of the crowd. His androgynous voice is framed by bass and drums, before his echoey guitar twangs and Phillip Tubbs’ keyboard add sprinklings of beautiful melody. The crowd loses itself in tunes such as ‘Affection’, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’, ‘Dreaming Of You’ and ‘K.’, and as you look around you find yourself lost in them too. On the screen located behind the band, artistic images of women, buildings and snowfall appear, enabling your mind to travel back to that initial moment in your room when you first discovered Cigarettes After Sex. However, you quickly snap back to reality because you realise: the moment exists in the present and Cigarettes After Sex’s music enables you to live in it.

[Alkmini Nikopoulou]

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