By: Alex Wardell
I was transported Monday evening and I am still not quite sure if I have yet returned. I am slightly terrified as I write this…full disclosure, I did not know that much about Chelsea Wolfe when I was asked to cover this performance. So I put the headphones on, tuned in and let Ms. Wolfe take me away, not dissimilar to what happened Monday night when I arrived at a completely, packed to the back, Metro Music Hall. After binging her music all afternoon, I was ready for an evening of Gothic rock.
Strolling into the venue I seemed to be almost floating in on a misty cloud, the lights were set low and dark, a one-directional spot in the rear of the stage with two strange looking LED towers. I found myself surrounded by wall to wall avid fans, hopeful and eager to immerse myself in Birth of Violence.
Then, she came from stage left. I had only just laid eyes on her, yet already I could not live without her voice. Ioanna Gika came to the stage and the crowd was soothed and coerced instantly by Ioanna’s siren’s voice while the towers which exploded with blue light began pulsing wave after wave of luminance across the audience. Promoting her new album Thalassa, Ioanna has been trying to make sense of, as well as come to terms with, some of the terrible things in her life. Performed live, the album oozes an ethereal, even spirit like tone that blends seamlessly with her voice and style; soothing in the most unsettling of ways. Her performance was hypnotic, luring the audience into a state of complacency and then suddenly, the ever pervading siren’s song bursts forth and we are taken for a spin far beyond the realm of reality with which we are familiar; electrifying, stunning and memorable. There was truly no better way to open for Chelsea Wolfe, than someone equally as creative and unique. Both artists were touring on their latest albums that are encompassing works within their genres to say the least, I will not miss another show featuring either of them.
There have been very few times in which I have felt such a vast spectrum of emotions and thoughts and questions during one show as I have at one night, with Chelsea Wolfe. Honestly, I am still having a hard time personifying, or even describing Monday night’s headliner; much less how it made me feel.
As the stage was being set for Chelsea to begin the story, a wall of anticipation was building within me. I had no idea what to expect. As the few lights came up, Chelsea stood upon her adorned platform and addressed the mic and her guitar as old friends. I was fixated the moment I heard ‘American Darkness’ trill from her picking fingers. Her Album Birth of Violence was being played almost from the beginning and I was excited to hear it all live. As she continued through the album some moments had me drifting into an almost meditative state, her haunting voice filled the room with a complex and forlorn presence. The crowd was turning into themselves, reflecting and processing a story uniquely and individually. The haunting harmonies lingered in between each song. I was having the most incredible time observing everyone absorbing each song. Chelsea seemed to be on a journey herself; consciously I don’t believe there would be a way to present such a performance on tour without going through a transformation yourself.
From her chilling album Abyss, Chelsea revisited “After the Fall.” Metro went silent and then fostered a discontent that multiplied to a point when Ms. Wolfe abandoned the song. The hall went silent for what seemed like ten minutes when her fingers then began picking the chilling melody for “Be All Things,” my favorite track from Birth of Violence. Nothing but chills flooded the crowd after the song, a rally if you will for the pleasantly doomed. Having been my first night exposed to a live Gothic Rock performance, I felt so privileged to get the chance to experience this album live. I was at odds with myself; such a profoundly different experience than most concerts I have attended; how do I feel despair gripping me, yet be comforted by such a mesmerizing key? Who is this voice luring me down a lonely road and where will it end? Just some of the questions I had while also attempting to shoot photos by lamplight.
The folk style rooted in Chelsea’s style from the beginning has completed a wonderful evolution in the last ten years. Such a unique and powerful sound within a minimalist composition was truly beautiful. Undoubtedly, I was swept away somewhere deep within myself, yet between the notes of doomed caroling, destined for a location only known to Chelsea Wolfe herself, and I cannot wait to go back.