Photos: Milton Stille
April 2nd, 2018 – The Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, BC
In all the years we’ve been covering Russian Circles and King Woman, I’ve only been able to admire them from afar. It was a thrill to find out that these two bands were willing to trek across the blizzard-ridden Canadian tundras together, with their first stop in Vancouver. It had been almost a decade since Russian Circles had played in Vancouver, and this was King Woman’s first show here, so the show was sold out and packed with an eclectic crowd.
King Woman needs no introduction to anyone familiar with these pages. I still remember when we first listened to the promo for this oddly-named band and both Sean and I were instantly captivated. Watching them grow in influence over time, I’ve come to not only love their music, but the outspoken politics of their leader Kristina Esfandiari. I’ve found her to be both a musical and a personal inspiration as a woman who lives and breathes metal and underground music. So when I rushed into the show as their first song had already started, I probably pissed a few people off as I snaked through the dense crowd to stand at the front of the stage, but I knew that’s where she’d want me to be. Their set was breathtaking and intense, and it was an emotional release that I needed. The penetrating low-end opened my soul up to receive the lilting, eerie, melancholy notes of Esfandiari’s vocals. She juxtaposes a sense of calm resignation with ferocious power, and her presence on the stage is royal. King Woman were everything I had anticipated them to be and more.
After the catharsis I found in King Woman’s music, I thought I had released the suffocating darkness I’ve been hiding for months. But Russian Circles called forth even more of my inner despair with their psychedelic sonic hypnosis. I was riveted by their set. I sat behind them at the side of the stage, watching them pour out a pummelling sermon on the crowd, who stood gaping at the band as if they were in a mass trance. I think a few tears were shed, as people who had waited a decade for this band to return were finally witnessing them again.
Thank you to both bands for braving the snow and mechanical troubles it took you to bring this tour to Canada.