Cigarettes After Sex Paint Boston’s House of Blues Grey

A thick sheet of mist hung over the House of Blues on the night of Oct. 27, but this didn’t stop a line from forming and extending multiple blocks. Fans waited in anticipation of Cigarettes After Sex, a band that was completing the North American segment of its 2019 tour for its new album Cry

The doors opened at 7 p.m., but, as early as 5 p.m., the band’s faithful fans were waiting in pursuit of the best spots for a venue that was made up almost entirely by general admission tickets. The band did not have an opening act, but for over an hour, a gray screen set the mood for the night with black and white scratchy images of a stormy ocean to the tune of the bands more popular songs.

While murmurs about the band’s delay stirred in the crowd as time passed, the entire venue fell silent once the group came out onto the hazy stage. Lead singer Greg Gonzalez opened by quietly announcing his love for Boston, and then singing the first ethereal notes of “Falling in Love” with the same gentle murmur of the recorded version of the song. Throughout the night, the trio that composes Cigarettes After Sex proved to be exactly like what their recordings would lead you to believe, in sound and in disposition. Like the low energy of the downtempo ballads that make up the band’s catalogue, the band hardly moved once it assumed its positions onstage.

Cigarettes After Sex formed as a band in 2008. Led by Gonzalez, the band describes its sound as “ambient pop.” Its music is striking in its use of relatively simple cords and catchy rhythms intertwined with soft, mysterious, and slow lyrics that take on a dreamlike quality. In a 2017 interview with Interview Magazine, Gonzalez described the way in which he hopes his music can be both calming and emotional, and said that, for him, music is his drug of choice to put him to sleep. In the same interview, Gonzalez said, “It’s very touching to see someone moved to tears by a song.”

Cigarettes After Sex no doubt makes music for crying. On Sunday, while perhaps not all were visibly in tears, the purveyors did appear to be moved by the dreamlike sounds of both Cry and the band’s older songs. The set was short, lasting less than an hour in total. Despite the late start and brief performance, the entire room seem transfixed on a live performance that set the same mood as illustrated through sound on their albums. 

The lyrics of the nine new tracks featured on Cry flowed easily from one to another, with the performance of one song seemingly bleeding into the next. On recordings, the barely noticeable transitions can feel slightly monotonous, but performed live, the flow created a reflective, sad, and bittersweet but beautiful mood that remained constant throughout the set.

Curiously, a giant disco ball illuminated the room during the last song of the band’s regular set, a melancholic iteration of “Apocalypse,” the band’s most popular song. Cigarettes After Sex opened the encore with “Young & Dumb,” a track from the band’s 2017 self-titled first full album, and finished out with the screeching outro of “Dreaming of You,” an uncharacteristically building track from the band’s 2012 debut EP I. After the song, the band quietly left the stage in the same mysterious and dreamlike manner in which it emerged.

Featured Image by Kaylie Ramirez / Heights Editor