Live at Kremwerk in Seattle, WA on August 23, 2015
Written & Photographed by Tracy T. / T. Terrorist Photography
It is always a pleasure to attend shows in Seattle which are out of the small range of usual venues where the majority of underground acts come to play, the same can also be said for each roster of bands and the types of crowds that will show up in attendance – of course, this is only expected when there is a tightly-knit line-up for each show. This one in particular was fairly intriguing, as it took place at a venue I was entirely unfamiliar with, although the main reason for my attendance was the complete opposite, as the work of King Dude is far from unknown for my ears. Both of these reasons alone held more than a great amount of anticipation for the long evening ahead.
The venue itself, Kremwerk, is located right in the heart of downtown Seattle, it is easy to overlook from the outside, as the club is lodged between two commercial businesses and its appearance is that of a brown brick layered building. The gated entrance quickly leads to the outside patio, then down a flight of stairs which takes you down into the main stage & bar area. Walking into the venue was a drastic change in itself, as the radiating ambiance of the club was almost immediate – all the lights were off and the only thing which lead your eyes in surrounding darkness was the batch of red, neon lit bottles which were stacked in rows inside a large, glass cage. Further ahead was the bar which was illuminated by a bright blue beam of light decked across the whole back area – the contrast was vast, albeit quite fitting. Across the opposite end of the bar is the stage, which was decked out with festive, LED lights draping down the entire width of the stage. It was unlike any other venue I had ventured out to before, and exceptionally fitting for all performers of the night.
The first opening act was a fresh, new project lead by one of our own writers here at Heathen Harvest, Anne K. O’Neill with her solo, acoustic neofolk project, Serpentent. The stage was lit with candles which outlined her presence, as she perched on a stool with her acoustic guitar in hand, the show was finally about to begin. She began to pluck away a few notes, and her harmonic and powerful voice began to fill the room which drew all attention towards her immediately. Her vocals emitted a bold, spiritual radiance in the room – her lyrics projected memories of nostalgia and sentimental reflections of times’ past. It was clear from the look in her eyes that she was drifting into another world, becoming immersed in the emotions which took her there in her music – the gleam in her eyes pierced through the surrounding darkness, as she strummed each note of her guitar almost effortlessly. O’Neill’s presence was glowing as brightly as the burning candles which surrounded her – although she had only performed 4 songs that evening, between each there were brief pauses of silence which were longing to be broken by the depths of her soothing yet preeminent voice. It was a captivating performance which was both efficiently and intimately executed.
Serpentent’s set ended on a short note, as the background music turned back on and the candles were put out and stored away, the next act to follow was (also the Seattle-based) Eye of Nix. Being only vaguely familiar with the group’s name prior, I was keen on what was in store for a local doom metal band which I hadn’t seen or heard before. Vocalist, Joy Von Nix took the stage front and center, cloaked in a long black veil and flowing, satin dress. The rest of the band all sported black dress shirts and stood well-composed behind her on what limited space on the stage they had to work with. The illuminated red lights remained, as Nix’s Siouxsie/Lisa Gerrard hybrid-like vocals were harmoniously serenading the spectators alongside Justin Straw‘s pummeling of the main percussion, and the martial-like additions of Masaaki Masao. At certain moments, Nix’s vocals were operatic, drifting melodiously while the rest of the band were clashing away in fluctuating chaos, something which could best describe their sound as experimental, psychedelic doom metal. As a live piece, Eye of Nix remain fully composed throughout their performance and deliver the fullness of their sound – each song lit up the room in ever-changing rhythms and ranges, although Nix’s vocals were primarily soothing, certain moments were switched over into a more harsh, aggressive tone (comparatively resembling that of Audrey Sylvain‘s black metal-esque vocals of the now defunct Amesoeurs). Eye of Nix were certainly a pleasant surprise, as their set ended on a brief note with no warning prior, and silence filled the room almost immediately.
Lakes from Melbourne, Australia were up next, another group I was unfamiliar with but heard positive remarks about from friends and strangers alike. Their setup did not take very long, as their sound check was brief, and their opening track was powerfully emitted throughout the venue, and by far the loudest act of the night. Vocalist/guitarist, Sean Bailey took the main spotlight of the stage, with Lee Parker on percussion duty, standing and battering relentlessly at his kit throughout the entire set. Lakes play an interesting combination of post-punk, indie rock with a noticeable 80’s goth-like feel – within a live setting, these combined elements outline a much heavier sound which is not limited to one genre and also easy to latch onto. Bailey contains a strong composure which does not break throughout their performance, he is completely converged within the spotlight that is shining directly on him, as Parker does not break eye contact with his drum kit and is absorbed in every beat alongside the bass notes played by Simon Taylor, who is standing further away from the two. Their set is roughly about 30 minutes long, Bailey’s guitar echoes throughout the speakers, veiled in psychedelic undertones as a final closure of their performance.
The final act of the night was, but of course, the highly anticipated King Dude. As initially expected, his performance consisted of a solo, acoustic set. It was nearing slightly past midnight when T.J. Cowgill took the stage with his guitar at his side, starting off his set with a slightly more agile version of “Deal with the Devil” – his deep, distinct voice lit up the crowd with liveliness and excitement. His eyes would stare radiantly into the distance during each song, as he strummed each note and sang each line with a captivating, yet sinister allure. Classic tracks such as “Jesus in the Courtyard” and “Lucifer is the Light of the World” were easily recognizable and sung along with by friends of Cowgill in attendance. There was a brief intermission in between songs where he exchanged “thank you’s” to those who made it out and humbly exclaimed that he is happy to be back in Seattle, even if it was only briefly. Cowgill performed the acoustic renditions of his own songs almost flawlessly and certainly knows how to light up a crowd with his stage aura – everything from the solemn, evocative undertones heard in “Born in Blood” to the comic relief-like jokes he would make in between songs, neither of these aspects were overdone or taken too far. His set was roughly around 45 minutes long, nearing towards 1:00 am as the festivities were coming to a close. The dimly lit, well-suited atmosphere of the venue contributed greatly to all aspects of the evening, which even now I still struggle to fully exemplify in a simple review – such as those who performed this evening, there is a certain kind of darkness which cannot be transcribed in its entirety.