The chill air whispers in your ear, police cars howl like wolves up and down the 2, not a soul dares to travel down Verdugo road; music fans dressed for a funeral stand silently and unmoving like right-side-up bats in the main room at Show Cave, and I silently curse myself for going to this show without wearing a stitch of black denim.
King Dude performs solo, accompanying himself with lonesome, reverby, sometimes twangy guitar work. He writes songs that Leonard Cohen might have written if Cohen was a devil-worshiper and Suzanne was a vampire queen. His set is loaded with three wolf moon imagery: flesh eating, blood drinking, and Lucifer name-checking, and a woman with spiders in her hair. But they are also songs of life, and loss, of a vivid and tempestuous inner life. Dude wanders a very hazy line between kitsch and art, so praise Satan that he sings with a dark baritone full of world-weariness and conviction, and never ever blinks.
The Present Moment does a serviceable set of dancey, poppy tunes with an industrial/retro edge. They have the aesthetic down pat, mixing floor toms with synth drums and a live bassist, but their vocals and staging put very little at risk. Some electro acts are all sex appeal with very little musical substance, but The Present Moment arrives with promise and then mostly just lays there. They would benefit from more sex, more passionate vocals, more creative experimentation and exploration. The band I saw had a polite disinterest in its own musical ideas: a cover band sui generis.
“Soundscape” is a word that music critics toss around a lot, but here is an act that lives up to the brand: Chelsea Wolfe, wearing a long black dress with matching veil, got on stage with her band, checks her dual microphones, and does a set of dense, layered, multipart songs, each another room in a castle made up of ominous drumbeats, distorted synths, mournful cello harmonies, and delayed vocals. Wolfe cuts a ghoulish figure on stage, craning forward into her microphones, clutching a black guitar, singing through a veil, she rocks with the storminess of a premature widow. Her presence is so hypnotic that when her last song ends, the audience can barely believe it, and demands an encore, which she provides happily, gloomily.
—Charles Mallison (words + illustration)