Photos & Text: Bobby Cochran
A Sunday night at the Starline Social Club in Oakland with Dallas garage-stoner-rock trio True Widow and ethereal wall-of-sound siren SRSQ would have been a powerful experience all on its own. Tonight also happened to be the one-year anniversary of the deadly Ghost Ship fire that took the lives of 36 local artists and music lovers just a hop skip and jump away from where we all gathered.
One of the Ghost Ship victims was Cash Askew, former Them Are Us Too bandmate of SRSQ’s Kennedy Ashlyn. Shimmering, rich soundscapes backed by intermittent, pulsating electro rhythms, SRSQ evokes shades of Cocteau Twins, but decidedly edgier and darker. Accurately described as “Griefwave,” SRSQ exorcised deep, aching emotion with each song, Ashlyn’s voice soaring and lifting above the musical chasm below. Though some of us were seeing her for the first time, there were some in the audience for whom the pain is still very present, and were moved to tears by her performance, so raw and beautiful.
Dallas trio True Widow grounded things out by turning all the way up and diving in, which they did with gusto. Opening with “Back Shredder” from 2016’s Avvolgere, Guitarist/vocalist DH Phillips, Bassist/vocalist Nicole Estill and drummer Slim TX plowed through a full and kickass set of dark, slow and dirty Rock n Roll. What this band does is simple, in essence. But they do it with such straightforward muscle and a unique balance between sludgy repetition and beautiful melody. Stoner-gaze, some call it. True Widow has mastered the slow burn, the art of keeping things straightforward and simple without getting boring. “S:H:S”, “Four Teeth”, “Sunday Driver”, “Skull Eyes”, and so many more… Closing it out with the excellent bone-crusher “Bleeder” from their 2008 self-titled debut album was the icing on the sludge cake, and capped off the best Sunday night we’d had in a while.