WRFL somehow manages to outdo themselves each year with Boomslang Fest. I wasn’t as organized as I would’ve liked to be, nor did I have much free time to work with and allow some flexibility with my schedule. To top that, my DSLR camera busted while I was in Portugal over the summer so I had to wince every time I pulled out my iPhone to take yet. another. crappy. concert. photo. I seriously had to kick myself knowing that I was one of those assholes holding up a glowing smartphone screen when I knew that hundreds of others (presumably) just wanted to see the band playing. Mea culpa, it is what it is.
Chelsea Wolfe at Natasha’s on Friday night. I was familiar with her down-tempo, gloomy rock but this was my first time seeing her live and it was truly breathtaking. An adjective that gets overused lately is “intense”. That’s probably not the best word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind when describing Chelsea Wolfe. At one point in the set, she was overcome by emotion (she really poured out TONS of heavy emotion during her set) and set her guitar down, walked right off the stage into the crowd, and went to the back to compose herself. Her band didn’t skip a beat, and broke into a wild improvised solo that lasted unimaginably long. Chelsea walked back through the crowd, stepped back up on the low stage, tuned her guitar and got right back to it. She poured out so much soul to her audience, and was very appreciative of them. After finishing, she said “…a big thank you to people who come out to shows and support music. It really means a lot to me and you people are awesome. And fuck you to people who come out to shows and talk the whole time.” Preach it! Forever and ever amen! I never get why people try to talk during concerts…
ADULT. at Cosmic Charlie’s on Friday night. They were like a crazy cross between Devo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Die Antwoord. Except I liked it. A lot. Well, I actually love love love Devo, but not so much the other two. The duo were immensely entertaining and I think just about any child of the 80s couldn’t help but dig the synth-drenched caterwaul they busted out.
Justin Paul Lewis was spotted in Lexington…well, kinda. I spied someone left a drink for him on A Cup of Common Wealth‘s “Pay It Forward” board. Awesome coffee shop with an awesome mission, building a more socially sustainable community with every cup. Go support them whenever you’re around.
Speaking of building socially sustainable communities, West Sixth Brewing hosted workshop events for the Queerslang segment of the weekend. Queerslang is more than just a GLBT event, it’s about broader social equality across the traditional dividing lines of gender, race, sexuality, class, etc. I attended an hour-long workshop and seminar hosted by Broke Spoke called, “The ABCs of Bike Maintenance and Community Building”, that was a fascinating skill-share and discussion on how interconnected communities are by bicycles. Like I mentioned in the Boomslang preview, West Sixth Brewing has established itself as a pillar of the community, and offers it’s space up as a healthy, active, inclusive community center. More than just a cool place to grab a beer.
Dent May at Al’s on Saturday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I assume the crowd did too, since the place was packed, but there’s something about Lexington’s music scene that I’ve noticed on the handful of times I’ve come into town for shows: everyone looks bored. It’s like a “too cool for school” kinda attitude I guess. I’m not hating, I get that scene etiquette dictates the appropriate way to act at shows. I’m all-too-familiar with the cross-your-arms-in-front-of-you-and-slowly-nod behavior at doom and post-rock shows. It was just really funny to see at something as upbeat and groovy as Dent May. I really wanted to walk around and take pictures of #DentMayBoredFace but again, the ol’ iPhone just couldn’t have captured the moment properly. At one point, I had to step out of the crowd because I couldn’t’ stop cracking up about #DentMayBoredFace. As far as the show goes though, it was really great. The residents around Al’s all came out of their houses and gathered on the sidewalk, some joining the crowd, and really amped up the energy by actually dancing and smiling.
Marnie Stern at Al’s on Saturday. And me. And her tiny dog. She admitted that it was probably one of the weirdest shows she’s played since it was only her and her bassist playing. Regardless, her audience could not have been more stoked. Super awesome of her to wrap up a very long stint of touring on the road with this stop in Kentucky. And if you can’t tell by the photo, she’s an incredibly warm and friendly person to talk to.
(ohlm) at Embrace Sanctuary on Saturday night. They were insanely good. I’ve seen them a couple times in Louisville and they never get old. A picture (let alone, this one) just doesn’t capture how good they are live, so just track them down next time they play and see for yourself.
We saw Locrian. In a church. Like, they were set up where a pastor would be delivering a sermon. Note the Old Rugged Cross and the Crown of Thorns in the background for added authenticity. Locrian were jaw-dropping awesome. I had listened to most of their catalog of music before and I’ve been a fan for a while, but seeing them live was like dealing with a whole different animal. Their bleak, minimalist songs grab elements of black metal, ambient, krautrock, noise, doom, and still have some proggy riffs and synth tones peppered in there somewhere. The Chicago trio powered through most of their latest album, “Return to Annihilation“, and it was glorious. Their performance moved me in such a way, and struck a chord in me much the way Wolves in the Throne Room’s “Black Cascade” album resonates with me, or the way Horseback completely blew my mind the couple times I saw them play. It was so weird to take all of that in while sitting in church pews. Maybe it made it that much more amazing.
Grails at Embrace Sanctuary on Saturday night. These guys are the quintessential jam band, and I don’t mean that with the slightest shred of negativity. They fluidly transition from Ennio Morricone-esque epic ballads that sound like the soundtrack to some gloriously psyched-out Clint Eastwood western, to dark synth-laden blasts through some dystopian groove fest. There’s so many things going on simultaneously with this group that it’s so hard to parse out the elements, let alone know where to begin describing them. Even in a completely clear mental state, I still found myself thinking, “is this real life?”.
See you next year, Boomslang. I wonder what tricks you have up your sleeve this time.