Friday, August 17, 2012
Live review: Chelsea Wolfe
There was a decent crowd when Marriages took the stage at 9:30 but not what I expected after friends told me people were being turned away at the door because it was sold out. Marriages took the crowd by surprise, though having Russian Circles drummer Dave Turncrantz sitting in with them was an added bonus to sway things in their favor.
Every aspect of what they did was draped in chorus and delay, lending to more of a shoe gazey sound though , the bass player would go into more intricate math rock patterns at time which bubbled under the murk. Not only was singer guitarist Emma Rundle easy on the eye but her hushed croon set urgently onto top of her twinkling fret board work.
While they never hit on what would be considered metal, they exhibited a powerful grasp of surreal dynamics and musicianship which kept up with the guest guest drummer to win the crowd over.
The dark undertones of what Marriages set, the blackness of night rolled in with Chelsea Wolfe. Clad in a black and white ritual robe, her band rumbled into with the opening strains that nodded to black metal before the ebbed back into "movie screen" Wolfe used vocal looped vocal delay to sing around her self as the rest of the band employed slides and well tempered space did recreate the almost Portishead like vibe.
From their she used her desperate alto to weave a spellbinding web of gloom to the proceedings. Her music feels heavy in the sise ay a doom band might but with out actually delving into metal. Midway into her set she preformed three new songs all of which carried a similar brooding intensity to her older material.Her band served the songs at all times, her guitarist handled the single note melodies, while she took the chords. her drummer was minimal and loose though kept the tension as needed and the keyboardist who doubled as a bassist seemed to mix and modulate varied effected washes of ambiance rather than play and actual notes or melodies and his bass playing was mainly accenting then kick drum.
One thing the middle portion of the show left me wondering was how the new songs which were played electric were going to translate over as acoustic numbers since the new album coming out this fall is going to be acoustic with string accompaniment. I even went into the show wondering if it was just going to be her with an acoustic guitar, like what I saw from theat glass room session. Granted it was a smart move on her part to present the songs as she did and the magnifying glass I had out from my anticipation were met in full.
The down trodden esoteric nature of what she does translates live like a bar band in a David lynch film, so I think she bewitched the crowd in but her sound which has been branded as doom folk by some is a different taste of catharsis than what your average rock show goer might expect. She is so captivating that her performance couldn't be denied.
Russian circles took the stage with the ambiance fanfare of Ambiant noise and proceeded to launch into their more driving material, most of their stage prescience lay in the bassist Brian Cook ,who was the only member up front in the crowds face, the few turns they took into the more Ambiant paths were not left to linger on their own for long.
Their live shows make clear the build of the riff is there bread and butter as they have a fairly simple structure of their songs, they never dip into anything complex or necessarily progressive, in the sense of say rush or Mastodon's older material, but they transition well and when played as loud as they were preformed Tuesday night the results were rewarding.
Before the first band played I overheard a conversation about the purchase of ear plugs and how they were being given away at the merch both, and I have to say this caused me to expect them to be much louder than they were, they came no where close as being as loud as some one like Swans or Zoroaster. The mix as it stood allowed for nuance and dynamics, it was loud enough to get the point across when they congealed into the Tool like moments where they came together in tight syncopation to stomp climatic chords home.
Given the nature of the two openers who had provided enough atmosphere for one show, thhe set was built around the heavier numbers from Geneva" and "Empros" a wise choice as the crowd was very responsive and heads bobbed in time through out their set. I can say their performance made me want to load the new one back into the iPod and give it another listen, so mission accomplished.