All photos & text by Teddie Taylor
No word accurately defines what Some Ember and Wreck and Reference create – “indescribable” is the most fitting. In worlds of their own, each of the California duos produce landscapes of noise that are exploratory and, moreover, original. Nothing seemed too familiar throughout the night, no matter how many New Order or Clan of Xymox comparisons I searched for.
Bathed in red light, Dylan Travis and Nina Chase took turns with vocals and synths to travel from soft, echoing sounds to darker goth rock ones. Some Ember took their already spacey sound deeper into the unknown. Together, the two mesh flawlessly as a hard and soft, multidimensional entity. Pop enough to dance to and “experimental” enough to be a bit strange, they have taken darkwave into a David Lynchian world.
As Wreck and Reference began playing the first track of their latest album (“Powders,” arguably one of the greatest songs of the year), it was obvious that their set might rival the record itself. From slight rocking to full body thrashing, the people enveloped in the sound were affected by every noise. The people present moved naturally with the sound and each set of eyes was fixed upon the basic stage setup. The apparent simplicity was misleading in the most wonderful way, though – nothing was as understated as it appeared. Never has a drummer captured such attention with sheer skill nor has someone using technology been so intriguing to watch. Without theatrics or effort, Wreck and Reference are captivating. The two members, Felix Skinner with the studio controller and Ignat Frege at the drums, balanced feelings of despair, exhaustion and relief. Lyrically, they are genius; the literature is emotion soaked and beautiful. The sounds Skinner layered and built were perfectly in tune with Frege’s all-encompassing drumming: powerful, minimal, confusing, avant garde… Wreck and Reference are peerless.
Wreck and Reference
New Orleans group Cikada had the stage after the two California duos and were near polar opposites of the former sets. The sludge-heavy five piece sounded like the city they call home: dense, quick changing and infused with just enough grime to be pleasantly unsettling. A Lynyrd Skynyrd hat and Brujeria shirt reflected the Southern brand of doom metal that drew a crowd of faithful locals into their reach. Cikada (not to be confused with fellow New Orleans band Cicada) are not unlike their namesake insect; distinct against the background of the hot August night, they are an unceasing presence that cannot go unnoticed.