Chelsea Wolfe. I don’t know how I can adequately put into words what this woman’s music means to me. When I found out I was to be granted the extremely unique experience to photograph this beautiful creature at her show, I was beyond elated. I’ve talked before on here about treasuring those artists, directors, musicians who create art that feels like it was made directly for you. I think truly that is one of the most transformative experiences of being involved in this immense community of artists. Being a show photographer has afforded me this unique opportunity to show to you my dear readers what I see through my eyes when I attend a show and with my written words, I hope to paint a picture for those who were not able to catch the darkly decadent Chelsea Wolfe on her tour with Mammifer.
Now, Mammifer is an amazing duo that I am previously familiar with when I saw them open for Alcest in 2013. And how truly fitting for them to open for Chelsea Wolfe. The music that they craft is part drone, part noise, part haunting and stirs together to create something more akin to an experience than a live show.
If you are expecting a crazy stage show from the husband and wife team, you will be hard pressed to find one. Their stage show is stark and plain, a single red light casting a gentle sanguine glow as the two create some of the most heart wrenching music. Faith Coloccia, the dimunitive female half of Mammifer has this seraphim like voice that is equal parts breathy and powerful. She creates her own effects by reverbing her voice and live looping her vocals while Aaron Turner takes turns between a synthesizer and guitar. The set was in short – stunning. I knew what to expect and I unfortunately don’t know that a lot of other show attendees were on board for the same set. About twenty minutes in a lot of talking and shuffling started to happen, which is to be expected from a crowd that was more prepped for metal stylings and the rowdiness that is usually present at Rickshaw Theatre shows in Vancouver. On that note, a lot of attendees were loser wasted by this time and Mammifer is not really a musical act to get fuck tank loaded to. Crushing shitty beers is perfectly acceptable at most other shows, but Mammifer goes a lot better with a big bongload of high grade medical marijuana. Trust me kids, the oldblackgoat speaks from experience.
Also – word up kids – if you want to recant your goddamn life story during a Mammifer set, please go outside and fly at it. I stood next to a dude who wouldn’t shut his yap and it was seriously annoying. If I can hear you waxing idiotic through reverb noise and medical earplugs, you’re awful and why we can’t have nice things.
Chelsea Wolfe though. There was no yakking during her set, and in a sharp twist, there was this stark silence before her arrival on stage and she came out to this howling din from the crowd. Chelsea Wolfe, who has admitted her struggles with anxiety, stage fright and sleep paralysis uses a dimmed set of show lights and unlike many artists, does not focus on her appearance and instead opts to create an atmosphere that is hazy, smokey and heavily smells like incense.
Since I was lucky enough to be able to snag Chelsea’s set list after the show, I have transcribed it below. The thunderous Carrion Flowers opened the set. Scotty Floronic was not overly familiar with the music of Chelsea Wolfe prior to this show and he has commented that he was pretty blown away by the sheer volume and power inherent in her set. Allow me to tell you dear readers right now that a Chelsea Wolfe show is loud. LOUD. LOUD and lush.
The crowd was varied for a Rickshaw show, an oddball mix of hipsters, patch vest metalheads, goths, #vvitchy girls and everyone there was moving in unison. At times it was eerie to see how the music was so similarly effecting the audience members. We Hit a Wall is a favourite track of mine and when I’m overly emotional and attached to songs, I have no issues with openly weeping at concerts and I do it frequently, so if you see me at a show and I’m crying, it’s pretty par for the course for me. However, while I usually feel like a frigging maniac, I was pleasantly (oddly?) surprised to look over and find a fellow concert goer also in tears.
The whole show was tight musically, with non existant stage banter, again catering to the experience rather than a “show”. Chelsea did a two song encore and ended the show with Pale on Pale, allowing her guitar to reverb into itself while crumpling into the stage to howl into her guitar. It was pretty powerful stuff and looking over at Scotty Floronic’s astounded face was pretty life giving. Mr. Floronic is not shocked by much these days, so he was pleasantly surprised.
Drunk in a Graveyard wishes to thank Mammifer, Chelsea Wolfe, and Louise for giving us this incredible opportunity. The show was wonderful and helped us to find some beauty in the often unkind world.
Set list from September 30 2015 at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver BC:
We Hit A Wall
After The Fall
House Of Metal
Color of Blood
Pale on Pale