The Perfect Partnership- Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle Impress Sold Out Turf Club

March 27, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle live in concert at the Turf Club along with False, Gorgus and Without as the openers. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Much like Tuesday night, I felt like I was a bit in over my head when I walked into The Turf Club on Wednesday night for my show of choice: Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle. It’s not that I felt uncomfortable because I feel more at home at any of my local venues than anywhere else, more that I felt a bit out of my element. Like usual, I was kind of going in blind. Sure, I knew of the bands playing and I didn’t know them. I honestly couldn’t tell you one song title by any of them  and it was instantly clear that I was alone in that boat as the conversations around me revolved around the last time people saw these bands live. I leaned against the wall and took it all in and felt my excitement levels rise as I realized all of the conversations were about how amazing that last show was and how brilliant this one was going to be. A fish out of water, maybe, but I was excited for whatever was in my future.

Without any introduction, local band Without took the stage and instantly whisked the quickly growing audience away to another world with their sound. Airy and light while still having this intensity behind it, it was hard not to be captivated by this group as they played through their quick set. Even though they were the most quiet and somber of the night with their unique style that can only be described as ambient doom, there was still something highly energetic about their set. My eyes seemed to be glued on the vocalist (my apologies but I couldn’t find any band member names online) for the sole reason of you could feel the words, not just hear them. The way she delivered the lyrics was a thing of beauty without trying to be. Without’s set was short but it packed a punch and although it’s not my typical cup of tea, I was definitely drinking it all up while I had the chance.

Following Without was Grogus, another local band that definitely made a lasting impression on the sold out audience with a short set. This trio probably only played three or four songs (I wasn’t really counting but it was quick) that last a couple of minutes each creating a powerful set that left the audience hooting and hollering for more. A much more in your face type of energy, Grogus instantly had me sold what with the huge sound that was coming from just three members. A blend of sludge, doom and even a sprinkle of hardcore, their sound was intense and aggressive which, although a stark difference than the opening set from Without, was a glimpse into the progression of the night.

The final of the three locals to play was False- a band I’ve been dying to see live but just have never gotten the chance to. A more classic style of black metal, the amount of energy this six piece band had was off the charts and the way they instantly sucked you in only to spit you out exhausted at the end was a thing of magic. If I had to use one word to describe their set it would be ‘unrelenting’. There was no break from the intense guitar work or the crashing cymbals and I feel like even when the vocalist (again, couldn’t find a name online- my apologies!) wasn’t screaming into the microphone, there was still something musical about the way she would pace across the stage. It was impossible to catch your breath during their set. That’s not because of the crowd pushing and shoving because, well, they weren’t moving much at all, more because you were stuck trying to catch every single moment of False’s flawless set. It took me a long time to finally catch these guys live but, now that I have, I get why I kept seeing their name around town. What a strong band and a true treasure in the ever-growing local metal scene.

Closing out the intense night of music was Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle. Both powerhouses on their own, the two acts decided to join forces and give a few select cities the treat of seeing a collaborative set (thank you Jimmy from False for bringing this event to the Twin Cities). Now, as mentioned and per usual, I was going in a wee bit blind to this show so I couldn’t tell you if the songs being performed were by Thou, Emma Ruth Rundle, or brand new songs they all wrote together. What I can tell you is the way the music came across was absolutely perfect and honestly I could have easily been fooled into thinking that this was just one band that has been performing for years, not a collaboration that will only last a couple of shows.

The way that Emma Ruth Rundle’s songbird-like voice mixed with the intensity of vocalist Bryan Funck was truly goose-bump inducing. You would think that Bryan’s growls and primal sounding vocals would overpower the sweetness of Emma’s but that was far from the case. Emma’s voice has an energy about that, although completely different than Bryan’s, easily held it’s own. As mentioned, walking in blind I couldn’t tell you what song was who’s or anything like that but I think that just goes to prove the creativity, artistry and respect that was on the stage. Without trying to be anything than what they were, both Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle brought their own style and sound to the stage and made it a partnership that I truly hope continues to grow past these couple of tour dates. Dark and intense while being light and sweet, this set was one of those sets where I was completely lost in the music and the energy.

My two past shows have leaned towards the doom and sludge metal scene. I have to be honest, I’ve never really gotten into those scene but after the passion and creativity I saw on stage both Tuesday night at the YOB show and then last night– well, I think I have a rabbit hole to go down.