Text & Photos: Bobby Cochran
There’s always a moment just before Wovenhand begin playing where vocalist/guitarist/mastermind David Eugene Edwards begins slipping from this world into some other… as if spirits begin swirling in the air around him and he listens, murmurs out loud to them, awakens himself to their presence. This has to be one of the most fascinating aspects of his live performances – how he seems to use the music and be used by it simultaneously.
Throughout his two decade-plus career, Edwards has followed a creative trajectory that has shown persistent evolution, though always keeping a core of dark, southern-gothic folk that pulls the listener back to an earlier time and tells stories of God, the devil, and the struggle between their influence in the world. Beginning with 2014’s Refractory Obdurate, Edwards took Wovenhand into new sonic territory, adding Planes Mistaken For Stars alumni Chuck French on guitar and Neil Keener on bass (as well as longtime drummer/collaborator Ordy Garrison) and delving into a heavier, more metal-influenced approach. Edwards also began performing standing up at his mic, rather than sitting on a stool as he’d been doing since the early days of 16 Horsepower. The assertive stance coupled with the much heavier music signalled a significant change in Edwards’ evolutionary process, and Wovenhand has almost been born anew, bringing in a larger audience from the metal side of the musical spectrum and inviting them to join those devoted listeners from the dark-folk days.
Setting aside nearly a decade’s worth of recorded music, Wovenhand created tonight’s setlist almost exclusively from Refractory Obdurate 2012’s The Laughing Stalk and 2016’s Star Treatment. This incarnation of the band brings the heaviness and power of those records to life. It’s also clearly working as a collaborative musical unit, and not as a backing band for Edwards, as has been the case in the past.
This time around, Wovenhand are touring with Seattle’s Luciferian troubadour King Dude and his band in black. Folk and Americana are definitely at the root of King Dude’s music, but similar to their tourmates, there’s a full measure of blues and metal propelling things into the heavier realms. King Dude also gets a high score for his onstage banter, which is dark, ironic and hilarious all at the same time.
Two heavy-hitters with a history of forging their own paths, bringing traditional American musical influences together with the dark weightiness of modern heavy music – Wovenhand and King Dude are a match made in a shadowy and beautiful netherworld.