The last of Chelsea Wolfe’s Southeastern tour dates was a sold-out show in Atlanta’s Little Five Points. Half an hour before the doors opened, the line was already wrapped around the building and far into the parking lot…
In the green room, the two bands were preparing for the night. Ezra Buchla, a former collaborator who played viola on previous albums, was catching up with Ben and Chelsea while Sara smudged black lipstick across her face and eyes a la Marilyn Manson/John 5/The Crow.
I made my way into the crowd early in an attempt to be close to the stage, but Aisle 5 is what it says: an aisle. The long, narrow room was filling quickly. People were discussing the Ministry and Death Grips tour, Chelsea’s new album and how to leave for a drink and successfully return to the same spot.
When Youth Code took to the stage, Ryan in a Ministry shirt and Sara with a face decorated in red and black makeup, they immediately had the room’s attention. Of their five nights in the South, this was the best. The stage was the smallest, but they commanded every square inch. Sara spit into the air, caught it and smeared her makeup even further; their shows will surely only become more entertaining as the tour progresses. The entire front row seemed to be in a universal headbang. During “Consuming Guilt,” Sara knelt down and sang along with another girl wearing Manson-inspired makeup. The lights behind Ryan and Sara illuminated their silhouettes as they swung their arms and screamed above the industrial background. Youth Code are the complete package: vegan, socially conscious and outspoken with music and a performance to back up every bit of their success.
Whether it was my imagination since it was my last day on the tour or not, Atlanta was Chelsea’s loudest and most memorable stop in the Southeast. Multiple people were crying through every song and, at times, had their faces buried in their hands. The setlist, primarily composed of new tracks, was similar to the previous nights and highlighted the doom metal undertones of Hiss Spun. “Spun,” the opener every night thus far, had everyone swaying and nodding their heads along to the dark bass line while its follower, “16 Psyche,” drew its usual cheers. Every time a song from the new record began, it was amazing to see how many lips were already singing along to every word. Admiring others’ reactions to the band onstage was as beautiful as the music itself. After “Halfsleeper,” Chelsea paused to address commotion in the crowd and told everyone to “Be good to one another.” She then went on to give the most powerful performance of “Scrape” yet. The small stage and proximity to the front row intensified everything; she leaned over the edge above the crowd and already teary eyes stared in complete awe. Simultaneously heavy, light, intimidating, vulnerable, complex and simple, the show in Atlanta was the epitome of everything she and her bandmates create.
In the green room, members of O’Brother talked with Chelsea; she later said she was introduced to the band when a friend told her that vocalist Tanner Merritt sounded like her male counterpart. As the band tried to pack gear onstage, a circle began forming near the merch tables and bar. Apparently, the person causing problems at the end of Chelsea’s set could not handle alcohol and was being pinned down and taken out by police. Who would’ve thought–in the presence of Chelsea Wolfe? It was an entertaining and bizarre ending to a week filled with the utmost beauty and happiness. The five shows in Texas, Tennessee and Atlanta solidified Hiss Spun as the most diverse and moving work Chelsea has produced. Taking the stage after Youth Code every night, the industrial and metal influences shone through while songs like “Tracks (Tall Bodies)” were reminders of how Wolfe’s music has progressed album to album. The person who once wore veils to feel comfortable onstage now towers over her fans in leather platform boots and lays onstage under blood red lights as she hits the highest notes of her album closer.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Chelsea, Ben, Fred, Jess, Sara, Ryan, Justin, Ricardo, Stephen, Rosie, Randall and Louisianna.