Quite fittingly, EARTH’s record release show for the quite fantastic Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light: I was at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern — a venue known for swilling whiskey and boot-stomping folk/bluegrass sounds that usually tear through town in a tornado of good will and Southern leanings. EARTH, the almighty purveyors of Americana-influenced drone, are right at home with the shots of whiskey and the wide-brimmed hats.

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA
2011 – 03/08

Mount Eerie

Anarcortes, Washington-based musical maniac Mount Eerie opened up. Phil Elverum, with his standard anti-rock/nervous performer presence, announced that the band would play exactly seven songs. There was a new man on the keyboards and another new woman on the other keyboards. But as it is with Mount Eerie, Elverum was there manning the gong, the distortion equipment, and an enormous vibraharp; Elverum is Mount Eerie. Because of the new band members, there were a few noticeable slip ups on stage, often resulting in a slight disjointed segue. But Mount Eerie’s presence remained commanding. Even when the crowd demanded for more vibes, Elverum responded, “That is what I get for bringing a quiet instrument to a rock show.” Elverum hammered away even more relentlessly for the vibraphone to be heard over the waves of distortion, and the subtlety of the instrument really showed through on quieter songs like “Between Two Mysteries.” The band closed out the set with a emotionally chilling song, with all three members eventually rattling away softly on the vibraphone over the soft harmonious crooning of Elverum. In a similar venue at any other time, the crowd would’ve been baffled by the woodsy sounds, but the almost-hometown crew gave a raucous display of thanks when it was all over.

EARTH

Just like Elverum is the lifeblood of Mount Eerie, so is the same for Dylan Carson and EARTH. The ever-rotating supporting cast consisted of the same drummer and cellist on Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light: I but featured a new bassist. EARTH launched into the album, playing “Descent To The Zenith”, “Father Midnight”, and “Old Black.” The songs sounded masterful as they plodded along at the pace of a rock slowly deteriorating beneath a bubbling stream. Carson threw in playful little guitar licks as the crowd methodically bobbed their heads about as slowly as possible. EARTH played the title track off of the fantastic The Bees Made Honey In the Lion’s Skull, and then closed out with an unnamed track off of next year’s planned release, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light: II.

As with all EARTH shows, when the applause settled, the crowd was much smaller than when the band started. For all the genius in EARTH’s original drone sound, sometimes the incredibly slow pace of the band’s music can take its toll on even the healthiest pair of legs. To see EARTH live is an exercise in musical endurance, but one that is clearly worth it as you watch one of the godfathers of the drone genre on stage.

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