The Southern Lord West Coast Tour
Bands: Sunn O))), Earth, Weedeater, and Wolves In The Throne Room
Venue: The El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, California
Date: July 3rd, 2007
Southern Lord is certainly a label that needs no introduction to most and features an eclectic mix of artists on their roster. With that in mind, a rather unique tour is currently making its way through select West Coast cities. Featuring Wolves In The Throne Room, Weedeater, Earth, and Sunn O))), bands from a diverse group of sub-genres are represented. The tour stopped at the fabulous El Rey Theatre, an historic, rather beautiful venue in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles on July 3rd.
The crowd for this diverse show was not just the usual bunch of familiar faces that I see at most death and black metal shows that plow through Los Angeles. The crowd consisted of a wide slice of Los Angeles with the usual contingent of metalheads plus older folks, kids supporting different genres, and more than a few rock celebrities that I spotted (Pepper Keenan and Henry Rollins amongst others) in the mix.
First up was Wolves In The Throne Room, a band that has gathered considerable acclaim, from me included, for their ecological-tinged black metal debut “Diadem Of 12 Stars”. Consisting of a trio without a bass on a darkened stage, the band blazed through a very taut, precise 25 minute set without any acknowledgement of the crowd. They simply went out and played with noticeable intensity, ultimately resulting in a great set. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to their imminent second release.
Stoner sludge barons Weedeater from North Carolina, whose third release “God Luck And Good Speed” impressed me (review to be published soon, I wrote the review only a few days prior to the show) enough such that I was really looking forward to their set. An exceptionally powerful sound dripping with resonance and harmonics was the order of the day with a great, enthusiastic performance from all band members during their 30 minute or so set. Weedeater is yet another band on Southern Lord with a bright future on the label.
Drone/ doom masters Earth were next and I was really looking to see how this band would be able to capture what they’re able to do as a recording in a live setting. “Never has a band achieved so much with so little” is how I like to describe Earth, and I was definitely impressed with their live performance. Glacially slow heavy tones, actually precise drums hit at just the right moments spaced out over minutes, and a mammoth presence were all on their display during their 50 minute or so set. Each song’s conclusion was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the quiet, attentive crowd. Fantastic!
The El Rey stage is hidden by a curtain. Five minutes before Sunn O))) took the stage, smoke began to billow out from under and over the curtain as the house lights began to slowly, almost imperceptibly, dim. Muted tones begin, the house lights darken, and the curtain opens to five robed figures on stage. The opening harmonics featured very low keyboards, a trombone, gong, and cymbal. A vocalist takes the stage dressed in a robe, a mask that completely hides the face, and a long blond wig very reminiscent of the Morlocks from the 1960s version of “The Time Machine”. A circulating rumor prior to show indicated that none other than Attila Csihar himself was supplying the vocalizations for the show, although I had no way of verifying this claim (but, I don’t doubt it).
Sunn O)))’s set consisted of one long 70 minute track that had three noticeable movements with accompanying stage lighting. Opening deep tones without distorted bass were accompanied by howling vocalizations that were followed by Attila leaving the stage and the basses taking over for over 40 minutes of continuous, layered harmonics. One of the basses was a stand up, electrified string bass played with a long bow and the musician made a labored point of applying resin to the bow prior to its use. In addition, each strumming of the basses was preceded by a clawed hand raised high to the crowd. Sunn O))) is an experience to be seen to be believed.
The last movement consisted of Attila re-taking the stage with a change in costume. Literally using a bloodstained potato sack that restricted physical movement instead of a robe, the vocalizations consisted of high pitched shrieks and clicks accompanied by a rattling gong. Gradually, the stage lights dim, and the curtain closes. Wild applause.
Simply put, this was a show that must be fully experienced to be believed. Bravo!
Here's a couple of pictures...
Wolves In The Throne Room
Weedeater (the blond guy in the foreground is Pepper Keenan, by the way)
El Rey Lighting Effects Prior to Sunn O)))
Sunn O))), Attila In Costume
The rest of my photos are here.
Here's clip of Earth
Here's a clip of Sunn O)))
More Sunn O)))
You can see the rest of the videos here.
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