With the warmth of summer slowly loosing its grip and the nights becoming colder and darker each day, it’s a suitable time to be introduced to a local funeral doom band. The Minneapolis based band, Ulkum, was the first of three very different acts plying their trade this evening. As three quarters of the band took the stage, a hooded figure approached with a thurible as it dangled from chains and light smoke emanated from the metallic orb. Guitarst/signer, Joshua James Ans, placed his hand in among the ash and smeared the warm black powder across the heads of each band member before wielding his guitar in preparation for the opening song.
As the dreary sounds began, a heavy wave of warm distorted guitars washed across the room. Ulkum laid out dirge after dirge in their impressive 35 minute performance. The wall of sound that their live performance offered was an astounding way to welcome the evening full of diverse music. The song Breathe Darkness, Swallow Light was a one that stood out for me. The agonizingly slow harmonized guitars were a great counterpoint to crushing guitars and blast beats that eventually pummeled the crowd.
Hearing these sounds propelled me into the upcoming chilly autumn nights that I adore, these songs are an ideal soundtrack to accompany those evenings. They played a few new tracks that they hope to record this coming winter. Such bleak sounds will be perfect to track during the winter sessions in the coming months. Certainly this is a band to follow along with their progression as they add to their discography and definitely one that needs to be experienced in a live setting.
Wax Lead was the second band out of Minneapolis that performed for the crowd that gathered in Saint Paul. Signer Holly Axelrod welcomed those that traveled to the show as well as the Saint Paulites that were required to attend this show due to the performance being held in their city at this iconic venue.
The hypnotic drum and basslines set a strong foundation for the reverb drenched guitar textures and lush musings of Axelrod. With the limited amount of songs that are currently available for playback, it was a great treat to have heard a good amount of new ones. The addition of a second guitarist will help further their elaborate soundscapes, it will be interesting to see how this broadens their sound. Their future recording endeavors will need to be closely monitored for any new releases as well as future live performances. Wax Lead has a bright future that is worthy of your attention, another great live performance.
Wovenhand has such an enigmatic allure about them that they are able to hold the attention of the two vastly different fan bases that showed up in support of the local openers before them. A fan of Ulkum decked out in a Deicide shirt was banging his head along to the opener as well as to the headliner which was a polar opposite on many levels. Wax Lead’s Axelrod noted that it was such an honor to be playing in between these two talented and completely different bands. How folks would also get to taste the variety of music played out at this concert.
While having a large contingent of followers in Europe, back home in the States Wovenhand is often playing to a smaller fan base that gets the luxury of a more intimate show. All the fine details are witnessed when your able to view this charismatic musician up close. Frontman David Eugene Edwards often shoots out a piercing gaze that is not easily broken as he performs. As his cowboy boots glide across the rug with southwestern details that is strewn across his portion of the stage, he gets lost in an almost trance like state. His eyes flutter open and closed as his eyes roll back from time to time as his band mates play out the enchanting melodies and rhythms. The bare wood is visible on his banjola as the worn varnish peaks out as his had strums by across the strings.
The stage at the Turf club is great as it allows for numerous vantage points while taking in the performance from the front or the sides. The drumming skills of Ordy Garrison were mesmerizing and a joy to watch at such a close distance. The intriguing build up of patterns that were artfully crafted to rise and fall with the progression of the songs. Neil Keener often took his bass playing to the front of his amp before slowly warming up to crowd as he thumped out basslines on his low strung instrument. Guitarist and back up vocalist, Chuck French, added a dose of raw energy with his aggressive playing and singing. This was a fitting addition for Edwards newer songs that have a heavy touch to them.
Wovenhand is an amazing band to take in while in a live and cozy setting, the subtle nuances take a front and center stage view. This no doubt will be on my favorite sets of the year and the wait to see them perform live once again was well worth it.