This show was sandwiched right in my first "Oh my god what the hell am I doing" weekends of press; right between Utech Records Music Fest on the 11th and the Mamiffer/House of Low Culture/RM74/Locrian show in Chicago on the 13th. It was this massive weekend, during my 10th month (TEN MONTHS? HOLY CRAP!) running The Inarguable where I really decided this whole press thing was something I could see myself doing for a long time. Running on beer, low sleep, and pretty awesome food from this place called The Tavern on the corner of Milwaukee and North Avenue (seriously, check this place out), I wasn't actually sure if I would make it through this gig. But there was one thing keeping me awake.
I needed to hang out with Wolvserpent.
Wolvserpent and I have a happy history. Those of you who have been with the blog since at least last October will remember my interview with Wolvserpent and their album Blood Seed's subsequent placement on my Top 10 of 2010. I couldn't miss these two. No way. So I found some extra adrenaline in my system and went for it.
The show was held at a small bar called Pancho's just off of the California and Milwaukee intersection. Having never actually been there, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I must say it was nice. A bit on the small side, but the owner, Pancho, had a great sense of humor and he kept the place pretty dang clean, which is much more than I could ever ask of a small Chicago bar. Also, anyone willing to host a Wolvserpent show is cool in my book, right? Right.
Wolvserpent's touring mate, the low-key (a) Story of Rats, with whom they had recorded in the past, was a project with which I wasn't too familiar outside of some Facebook posts here or there. Having never heard anything, I was, to say the least, intrigued as to what might happen. After spending the entire previous day with noise and drone folks, my mind was already extraordinarily expanded and willing to take anything else in.
View the full post for video and live reviews for both bands.
(a) STORY OF RATS
(a) Story of Rats's set was a very pleasant surprise. The video is obviously too dark to really see anything, but sole member Garek Druss stood with his back facing the audience for the entire set, creating wondrously massive walls of ambiance with his multiple synthesizers and pedals. Even after spending an entire day watching more ambient-oriented artists play, the concept of an "ambient concert" was still mind-boggling. This music that I use to unwind alone is played live...and it's good! At times you'll see my camera sort of drifting downwards, and I can attribute that to me completely losing sense of where I was; just sort of getting lost in the rather loud sound that surrounded me. I later found out this was a more "tame" set for Druss, who normally uses his music to manipulate a venue's harmonic nodes, making it difficult to pinpoint just where the sound might come from. (a) Story of Rats's almost neoclassical, deep drones coupled with the stagnancy of Druss's movement definitely made for an interesting and, might I add, enjoyable concert experience.
I ended up not filming (or even watching) the second, local, band. I know, I know, I'm a bad press guy, but it's not every day a Chicagoan gets to see his friends from Boise, so cut me some slack! I was very confused to see the touring bands split by the local band, however. Who does that? (a) Story of Rats's introspective, washing drone would have worked perfectly in conjunction with Wolvserpent's ambient-meets-heavy doom. This is actually the first time I've ever seen something like this happen. Weird.
Thanks to Stefan Raduta for hosting my video!
I love Wolvserpent, both musically and as people. It's hard to believe such a pleasant couple could make such hard-hitting, gut-churningly heavy doom, but thus is life; never judge a book by it's cover, I guess. Like when I saw them in October, they performed their entire Blood Seed album, complete with all the complex violin textures and multiple layers of guitar. It is absolutely fascinating that two people can perform such complex and layered music in a live setting, even with the aid of loop stations. It is very obvious, judging by how calm both Blake and Brittany look in the video, that they spent such a long time creating this massive, complex texture to the point where performing it is almost second nature to them.
Oh yeah, aside from their atmospheric side, Wolvserpent is heavy. Earth-shatteringly heavy. So heavy that each low chord hit pulls the Moon that much closer to the Earth. Blake's gigantic guitar tone, created by three (THREE) Sunn half stacks, combined with Brittany's heaviest-handed drumming (every time she hit the kick drum, the room shook) made the entire venue vibrate. This primal, animalistic doom, while perfectly awesome in its own right on a record, is meant to be heard live. The first time I saw them I almost attributed the heaviness to the size of the venue (it was in an apartment), but now I fully understand that what Wolvserpent does is brought on by themselves. Pure, unadulterated heavy doom.
Due to technical difficulties that always come paired with bands who use electric instruments, the intro to "Serpent" had to be skipped, but, to be completely honest, I didn't really care. Yeah, I love every aspect of their last album, but their live show is all about flow...and it still did. Looking back, sure, I miss being able to hear it, but Blake and Brittany were able to work it out to where missing it wouldn't affect the live show and that is pretty awesome.
Overall, of course I'm glad I was able to see this show. Blake and Brittany (and now Garek) are good friends of The Inarguable and it is always great to spend time with long-distance friends. If Wolvserpent comes to your town, you NEED to see them. There is no excuse for missing them. Keep an eye out for my review of the new Mezektet tape, a new collaboration between Wolvserpent and (a) Story of Rats.