Live Report/Photos: Windhand, Ramming Speed at Saint Vitus

Windhand

Before we discuss the subject at hand, we have a brief announcement.

As some of you may have heard via social media late last week, IO editor Fred Pessaro has moved on to a position at Vice’s Noisey music blog. Fred is a true workhorse among music journalists, and I have no doubt that he will continue to do great things in his new digs.

With Fred’s departure, the time has come for new hands to take the tiller here at Invisible Oranges. Fred offered me the position last week, and I was humbled and honored to accept. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Doug Moore. I’ve been contributing here at IO since 2011, and I’ve been helping out on the editorial side since the beginning of this year. I will do my utmost to uphold this site’s legacy of quality metal coverage, and to keep the riffs flowing.

Now, onto business.

Popularity is mercurial. Artists break big quickly; there’s a reason that “blowing up” and explosions in general are such common metaphors. Cultural capital, like other types of capital, moves at the speed of light in the internet age. Careers can accelerate at breathtaking rates.

So it has gone for Windhand. Their first Saint Vitus date that I can recall was in August of 2012. They opened a four-band bill; Primitive Weapons and Mares of Thrace headlined. The crowd was small but generally appreciative. Windhand was then on Forcefield Records — the Richmond label that also launched the careers of Inter Arma and Cough, whom Windhand have shared members and released an excellent split with.

Fast-forward to 2013. Windhand is now a Relapse signee and a tour headliner, relying on Ramming Speed for direct support. (First-timers Golden Grass opened this gig.) The crowd is still appreciative, but it’s no longer small; the venue sold to capacity at the door. Nor is the audience exclusively metal. Windhand are crossing over fast. Their new album, Soma, has drawn fawning coverage from big crossover outlets like Pitchfork and Stereogum. There may have been more flannel and seersucker than denim and leather at this show.

Better this band than many others. Though I don’t love Windhand, they have a powerful grasp on their chosen approach. Their astrally-inclined stoner doom is fashionable at the moment, but when you see them live, it is clear that they would be playing this music even if nobody was watching. Vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, the band’s most identifiable musical ingredient, is almost aggressively unassuming onstage; she sings with her back to the audience much of the time, and rarely bothers with the gesturing and posing that so many metal frontpeople engage in. When the performance is strong, such antics are unnecessary. The medium is important, but the message is in the music.

— Words by Doug Moore, photos by Caroline Harrison

Golden Grass

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Ramming Speed

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Windhand

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