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LIVE REVIEW: Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen, 06.11.2015

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Friday’s show at Loppen was the third time we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe in the last 15 months. At this point, we know what to expect: We know Chelsea is a talented musician who surrounds herself with other talented musicians. We know there’s going to be a heavy gloom cut through with surprisingly delicate vocals — her latest album, Abyss, guarantees this. Any serious deviations from when we last saw her at Roskilde would come as bolts out of the blue. Since that didn’t happen, these are the details I’ve chosen to focus on instead:

  • When the band finally take the stage after an extended string introduction, there is a notable shift in the air. The chatty audience finally shushes and the growing noise develops a sinister quality.
  • Despite having a capable backing vocalist, looped vocal tracks play a big role in Chelsea’s performance. There is something disorienting and mildly fascinating in watching her stomp her loop pedals. Loppen is a physical good space for vocal harmonies.
  • No matter how many times I see her, I will never not be impressed by Chelsea’s backing band. I maintain that her drummer is half man, half machine.
    Chelsea Wolfe-2719
  • It is so much hotter in Loppen than it seems like it should be in November. I’m grateful to be leaning against a cool wall even if it obstructs my view of the stage. Chelsea, of course, is wearing something flowy and in this case one-sleeved. But the sleeve she has is long, and you have to admire that kind of commitment to a look.
  • “We Hit a Wall” elicits not only cheers from the audience, but huge smiles from those behind the soundboard.
  • “That was the song I came to hear, so now we can go,” says an American bro immediately after “We Hit a Wall.” Dude is standing at least 10 feet away from me and does not understand that his voice carries.
  • That said, watching rows of other audience members throw their heads forward at the same time is quite visually pleasing.
  • Chelsea has always been something of a shy performer. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the space, but this is the most engaged I’ve seen her. She plays guitar for nearly the entire set, and for the one song she doesn’t, she uses the stage more than I’ve seen her. It’s a nice development to see in an artist in a relatively short period of time.
    Chelsea Wolfe-2681
  • About an hour and a half, this is also far and away the longest set I’ve seen her play.
  • When the set ends in a squall of noise and feedback, she falls over her guitar repeatedly looking rather like she’s trying and failing to do push ups. Again: signs of shedding her more reserved stage persona.
  • To the parents who brought their slightly bored looking 9-year-old daughter with the giant, noise-canceling, pink headphones: Thank you, that was inspiring.

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