|Event:||Chelsea Wolfe + Brutus|
|Location:||Trg Riječke Rezolucije, Rijeka, Croatia|
At the dawn of the 20th century, like many border cities, Rijeka was interested by many conflicts between rival countries. This being not the proper place to recall its history, the reason behind our aristocratic trip is way different: Trg Riječke Revolucije (which translates to Rijeka Resolution Square, from the agreement that gave the city gradual independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was home to Chelsea Wolfe’s Croatian stop on her European tour, after putting out another astonishing album. An almost mandatory pilgrimage, a chance to visit the pretty nice Croatian town and live a memorable experience.
The spasmodic wait, alas, wasn't softened by the opening act: Brutus, a Belgian trio which walks along the path traced by Oathbreaker, to say the first name that comes to mind. Their formula is a mixture of punk, (post) hardcore and a bit of shoegaze, with which they manage to get some cheering and applauses during their forty-minute performance.
But, despite the grit and the effort, their compositions often seem to lack something, as if they failed to stay focused: don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about linearity – here, almost all of us appreciate some Converge-style hardcore and its twisted rhythmics – and not everything is bad, but sometimes it looks like the three musicians struggle to find the core of the matter. On top of this, Stefanie’s voice (singer and drummer), however valuable, sounds a bit harmless and detached from the aggressiveness of the music (their debut album, the only one in their discography, “Brutus” might help you understand this). All things considered, a fair performance from a young, opening band, but we hope that their next studio effort will bring some positive evolution.
The goddess/priestess/songstress from Sacramento comes on stage with her mates with a bit of delay, but the audience accepts it without too much grumbling. Statuesque, two and a half metres tall from our point of view – in reality, having met her a bit earlier, she must be like 180 centimetres tall, tops – it takes two microseconds for Chelsea Joy (the irony) Wolfe to captivate and hypnotize the audience with "Carrion Flowers", as heavy and intense as the whole performance will be.
From these flowers, smelling of rotting flesh, the setlist goes back and forth through the Dark Lady's discography, drawing from her masterpiece "Abyss" but, obviously, from her latest album "Hiss Spun", as well as a couple of previous efforts: between demons, feral loves and the apocalyptic bells of "Dragged Out", the Californian combo paints marvellous soundscapes, supported by some great lighting, enhancing each song and the top notch work of the musicians, with Ben Chisholm divided between bass, synths and growling (interpreting the great Aaron Turner's brief part on "Vex").
On her part, Chelsea seems to be in a dimension of her own, coming back to reality just to hum some thanks, another proof, after my close encounter, of her introverted and gentle temper. Obviously, there's some space for soft pieces such as "The Culling" and "Twin Fawn", before closing a show way above average with the singer in a semi-trance state, on the cathartic crescendo of "Scrape".
My first Chelsea Wolfe concert, during Brutal Assault a couple years ago, coincided with some sort of meltdown/spiritual experience due to a twelve-hour trip, plus four hours in line under the rain and the late night show. This time, more aware of what was happening around me, the feelings were totally different but equally intense, in a more intimate context, heartfelt by fans and artists alike. Something I'd re-live over and over again.
Pictures kindly provided by Margot Furlanis.