Located in Little Five points Aisle 5 is in the former home of the Five Spot a bar that catered to jam bands. My first time at this venue in its newest incarnation and It now feels less like a bar and more like a venue. The show was sold out so when we entered there were people lined up with their backs to the wall. Wovenhand was already on stage when we got there. This was my first time seeing them live and as one of my favorite bands the bar was raised pretty high for them and they delivered. This was one of those shows where both acts hit the sweet spot that I often refer to here where a rock band hits a place that is heavy sonically but not heavy metal. It was not a matter of volume as they were loud enough, but not operating in vibrations alone. It was more about intensity. David Eugene Edwards and company tackled material from their 2014 album "Refractory Obdurate" which if you are a regular reader here you have heard me rave about as it took the number one spot on last years Top 15 Rock Albums of 2014. While filters through the same effects he uses on the album, Edwards vocals were commanding as he belted out his biblical narratives. The conclusion I cam to after his set was there is no way I'm ever going to miss one of his shows again.
This was the fourth time for me seeing Ms Wolfe. Each time has been a unique experience, but this go around it was the a dramatic blossoming of her live persona. In the past it has been her and her backing band, whom were still intact along with the addition of guitarist Aurielle Zeitler from Giant Squid / Ghost Marrow. This time it felt like they were a band. Perhaps it's the more amplified nature of the new album or just hours clocked in on the road. Going into it I did not know what to expect as "Abyss " is a hybrid of genres, would it be more of the electronic/ industrial side or they doomy side? The answer was gloomy rock with plenty of power. The rock chords were empowering to her. Not that is was a case of instant rock star just add distortion,but she has taken another confident step forward , which for some one whose music is often so introspective is enough of a change to create a tangible difference. One major factor in the punchier live sound was her constant collaborator Ben Chisholm spent more time playing bass than keyboards. Dylan's drumming was pretty constant and when the opened with "Carrion Flowers" the execution was more organic rock than industrial even in the more pounding sections. "Dragged Out" carried much more power as well, with the build having ten times more intensity than the album version. My fiance has at times a love/hate relationship with Wolfe in general, I can be a little obsessive about the artists I'm into, so living with that more than likely ads negative bias, but a couple songs in and even she was impressed. She has always said she prefers her live to her studio work and this show certainly made a good argument for that. But that is what I want from concerts, I can press play on my iPod at any time I want to hear what is added and both Wolfe and Edwards delivered on that end.
When she went into "Iron Moon" I have never seen the crowd so enraptured in her performance before. I realized this is going to be the last time I see her in a venue this intimate for some time if ever again. Not that she has sold out with her new album, but she continues to walk her own path in the best manner possible and the end result is people are beginning to take notice. The protective feeling you get when you watch an artist from their inception edge toward the mainstream is normally scary, but I feel she is handling it in a way that takes that into consideration, pulling from a few older songs, such as "Kings", "We Hit a Wall", and even going back as far as "Mers" all of which benefited from her amped up approach.
This is not to say she did not take things down a notch for a few introspective moments with songs like "Simple Death" from the new album. This exploration of her dynamic range was not off putting for the crowd , whose attention she held in just a solidly in these moments. Her voice sounded better than ever, much like the new album the effects where minimal and it was bared up front in the mix. Overall if you have seen her before, and are thinking "I've already seen her at blah, blah , blah", this tour has a different feel as she continues to evolve and it no where near even the show you might have caught on the "Pain is Beauty Tour" . For old and new fans she is not to be missed either and will exceed your expectations as much as she continues to exceed mine, giving me a deeper level of appreciation for "Abyss".