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CVLT Nation Captures THOU and KING WOMAN

Teddie Taylor

Being on the road with Thou is the antithesis of the wild “metal” tour cliche. Seeking out Starbucks. Carefully choosing the perfect vegan restaurant. Locating the nearest Whole Foods. Listening to Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Sinead O’Connor and Soundgarden. Razzing one another in the van and awaiting the “You gonna razz ’em back?” reply. Playing The Quest and Undercroft. As soon as the Louisiana band met up with King Woman in Raleigh, NC for Hopscotch Fest, it was an immediate reunion from the last time the two played New Orleans together. Though they were in Raleigh as well, it wasn’t until the next night in Richmond, VA that Seattle psych-rockers Dreamdecay joined the bill. With three shows behind them and a newfound fear of clowns after seeing It, the tour hit its peak in New York at the final two shows…



Four hours of driving through the Catskill Mountains led everyone to Oneonta, New York. The details were faint after the venue had changed a few days earlier: the bands were playing a house show at Cop Frat and there was a sound curfew. Sure enough, Google Maps took the van directly to a two story house straight out of Haddonfield, IL. *Cue John Carpenter theme song.* It turned out that this was to be a basement show – a romantic thought had it not been for the hundreds of pounds of gear that had to be shimmied down steep stairs and around corners. Once the skeptical glances and trips to retrieve amps and merch were finished, however, Cop Frat began to shine. In the small space, it was impossible to form a horseshoe around the band. There was no “I’ll watch from the rear.” It was a close-quartered assault on the senses that was as thrilling as it was slightly terrifying. Unlike previous nights, where people stood back and barely swayed, the basement was alive. Dreamdecay bassist Jason Clackley broke a bass string and King Woman’s Peter Arensdorf came to the rescue. The bands were already sharing a back line and drum kit, so why not basses? The sound in the low-ceilinged room wrapped around everyone. Each heartbreaking note of Kristina Esfandiari’s voice was met with their contrasting doom instrumentals and amplified due to close proximity. The ability to see into someone’s eyes as they sing or play guitar evokes entirely different emotions than normal.



Audiences tend to stand completely still while watching Thou, which then prompts the band to begin their beloved comedic banter, but in the hot, small basement in Oneonta, people moved. The highlight of the entire night, which will forever be seared into my mind, was The Fall of the Air Duct. During Thou’s closing cover of Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void,” a section of air duct fell from overhead. Fear not! It stopped no one from barreling across the room to the Master of Reality classic and was met with far more laughter than shock. (Apparently the event was a normal occurrence.) Oh, to be at Cop Frat when Primitive Man and Bell Witch play the spot in November…



The last of the Dreamdecay/King Woman/Thou shows took place in Buffalo, close enough to Canada to have a Tim Horton’s. I was wearing a Danzig shirt upon arrival; it was fate, since he had cancelled his Buffalo performance earlier and the tickets were now being honored at the night’s show. There was ample time to spare thanks to a relatively short drive after hunting down the SUNY Starbucks to fuel the Thou iced coffee addiction. After a long debate surrounding the origins of punk and The Rolling Stones vs. The Beatles over local pizza and sinus-singeing hot wings, the varied lineup began with local noise project Flesh Trade. Dreamdecay, whose sound straddles psych rock and punk, forced the black clad crowd to bob their heads and tap their feet – acts which were mostly abandoned by the time Thou’s brooding set took over. The magic of the previous night was in its unpredictability, but Buffalo’s charm was in its reception of King Woman. Esfandiari, who typically sings from the floor in front of the stage, was surrounded by an entranced crescent moon of eyes that seemed to be absorbing every emotion the band inspired.



Thou, who are working on the long-awaited Magus record, incorporated new songs on most nights, drawing obvious excitement from followers of the band. Ending as it began, they closed the night with their brilliant cover of “The Chain.” Chills had to have run down everyone’s spines as soon as the opening notes of the song were played in Thou fashion as Funck’s abrasive vocals met Esfandiari’s haunting ones. When the venue had cleared, donuts were eaten, “Happy Birthday” was sung to Andy (whose birthday it was not) and the bands said their goodbyes. The razzing was moved to the “Bryan Funck Left The Conversation” group chat and the Fleetwood Mac cover was replaced with adored Nirvana renditions for the remainder of the dates. After a marathon 23 hour drive back to New Orleans from Basilica Soundscape a few days later, I think “Comfortably Numb” had been played 65 times, one semi-cult-operated vegan restaurant had been visited and the “work” of tour was done until next month.




Written By

Teddie currently resides in the swamp that is New Orleans. She writes about music, photographs musicians and sends apologies in advance for her head blocking your view at a show. Follow her on Instagram @teddiestaylor.

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