Hailing from Paducah, Kentucky, The Legendary Shack Shakers brought their brand of rock and roll and country to The EARL on November 4. They were joined by staples in the Atlanta rockabilly and surf rock scenes, Rod Hamdallah and Jeffrey Butzer and The Compartmentalizationists.
Live Review by Alex Moore
Though the monikers ‘doom metal’ or ‘doom folk’ no doubt conjure up images of destruction and violence, True Widow and Chelsea Wolfe show that destruction does not necessarily equate chaos. In fact, both acts share an innate ability to spin these themes of doom and gloom and create something beautiful and artistic, as demonstrated during their recent performances at The EARL on Sept. 9 in Atlanta.
For the uninitiated, True Widow combines the best elements of shoegaze and doom metal, resulting in a slow and hypnotic sound best heard loud and live. Though the dimly lit stage provided some brief problems for guitarist and vocalist Dan Phillips, the dark room created the perfect atmosphere for the group’s performance as they blared through some of the best material from their latest record, Circumambulation (Relapse Records).
Halfway through the lumbering “Numb Hand,” it became evident that the crowd was under the trio’s spell, sleepily bobbing their heads along with Nicole Estill’s thundering bass lines and Timothy Starks’ drumming. The vocal harmony between Estill and Phillips during “Four Teeth” was nothing short of powerful as the trio pushed The EARL’s sound system to its very limits with their somber yet hypnotic rhythms.
Opening with “Feral Love” from her new record, Pain is Beauty (Sargent House Records), Chelsea Wolfe took the stage and enchanted the crowd with tomes of love and loss. Wolfe’s work utilizes the perfect amount of dissonance, that when combined with the songstress’ voice, created an atmosphere that is at once beautiful and nightmarish. Half the tension from Wolfe’s haunting melodies came from the intensely personal and vivid lyrics, which felt like they’ve been ripped straight from the singer’s diary.
Earnest and passionate delivery from both Chelsea and her backing band provided a cathartic release to that tension, as the quartet swayed back and forth with their eyes closed, seemingly just as engrossed as the audience. Fan favorites such as “Mer,” “Demons” and “Flatlands” were played alongside “House of Metal,” “We hit a Wall” and other tracks from Beauty, providing the perfect mix of old and new material.
Much of Wolfe’s music encourages close listening and introspection, a concept that was seemingly lost on a small handful of audience members who shouted during interludes and took flash photos of themselves in the middle of songs. In the end, not even a comment from Wolfe herself suppressed the disruptive group. Take note: if a performer comments that your constant harassment, thinly veiled as praise, is obnoxious, it may be time to reevaluate some things. If you’re not already convinced of Chelsea Wolfe’s unique talent for combining beautiful melodies with apocalyptic sentiments, you undoubtedly will be after witnessing one of her flawless performances.
Review and photos by Rose Riot
I am often confronted with a common misconception about my work photographing musicians and that is that I get to have one on one time with them. It has happened before but it is very rare. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I am simply near the stage during their performance just photographing them. Occasionally, there is eye contact but that’s as far as the encounter goes. I am OK with this.
What to say to an idol?
What would I say to the said musicians without sounding just like every other fan they have met? I will happily just take their picture and go home. Occasionally, I interview the subject of my photographs. Until the evening of June 20, I had never interviewed anyone that I could truthfully say I idolized. I truthfully idolize Dax Riggs, and when I found out I was approved for an interview, I wasn’t excited like you might think. Instead, I have a feeling of anxiety mixed with a little dread. I have been a huge fan for the last three year and many times have thought, “If I ever meet Dax Riggs, I’m going to ask him ______.” Now was my chance.
For the sake of Target Audience Magazine, I wanted to keep my questions mainly about the business of being a working, touring musician.I wanted to keep the interview under 15 minutes, also I wanted to keep it professional and not fan girly. In reality, I could have asked him 900 questions ranging from “What’s your favorite movie” to “What are your thoughts on the dwindling honey bee situation?”
When it was finally time for the interview, I had been working eleven days straight on minimal amounts of sleep; I was exhausted. I treasured this exhaustion because it helped temper the anxiety of meeting someone whose art I connect with on an emotional level. That statement alone sounds pretty fan girl and that was my biggest fear. My two goals for the evening:
#1 don’t sound like a dork
#2 don’t spit while talking.
A soft spoken man
Riggs spoke softly, as I had expected he would, and seemed somewhat shy and reserved. I hate to see people uncomfortable in any way; I almost wanted to tell him not to worry, no pressure and release us both from what could be an awkward situation, but he had agreed to the interview. He’s big boy who does this stuff all the time, and I’m big girl who has been through way weirder situations. We were going to get through this one way or another.
Riggs was great. He opened up more than I had expected and I really could have talked to him for hours. The questions I had prepared only made me want to know even more. Perhaps someday, I will be granted the privilege of another interview.
When I was done with our exchange, I realized I was even more nervous than I was before the interview, and I felt slightly giddy. I made my position in front of the stage arm with my camera to shoot Riggs for probably the fifth or sixth time. I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me, I attributing this to my giddiness. I’m usually pretty cool just photographing things and not talking to anyone. The guy was a seasoned fan as well. I appreciated his infectious excitement.
Before the show begins
The Earl played Wovenhand before the main show started. I have, in writing and in my thoughts, often compared Wovenhand and Dax Riggs. The comparison wouldn’t be all that interesting except that Wovenhand sings about God and Dax Riggs sings about Satan, yet a common vibe pulses through their music. Future question #217, ask Dax about Wovenhand.
The show started very humbly with Dax and a bass player walking onto the stage and taking seat on folding chairs.This was the first time I had seen him play with this very bare and very acoustic setup. Dax went into a rendition of “What a Wonderful World” made famous by Louis Armstrong, whom he had mentioned in our interview as a major influence.
The second song was a song of his own, “You Were Born To Be My Gallows,” which delivered as Riggs’ songs always do. Afterward, Riggs sang a most impressive version of “Gloomy Sunday,” originally by Billy Holiday, and covered by Christian Death and Marianne Faithful, good company for Dax Riggs I’d say. When he was finished, a voice came out of the crowd asking, “Is this new stuff!?” Dax laughed a very quiet, low laugh, then looked to the ground and said in a barely audible voice, “No,it’s old.”
After this song, I had to begrudgingly make my exit as I had to be up at 5 a.m. the following morning. I wanted to hear what other surprises awaited the room, but my exhaustion won me over.
Riggs told me that he was working on a new album, and that he liked to take a long time to do so. Take all the time you need Dax. I will listen to it like it’s a philosophy, and I will be at the show when you tour. I will implore all those whom I know to do the same.
Interview with Dax Riggs 6/20/2013
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