It was a Sunday night like any other as I walked into the then-empty Ace of Cups in Columbus, Ohio, on December 13, 2015 and saw Pelican sound checking. By crossing the threshold I entered a different world. The outside was gone and nothing existed save for some Marshall amps, electric guitars, and a drum set.

My history with these bands began well over ten years ago. I had visited the record shop that I would frequent and happened to pick up Australasia once I saw they were on Hyrda Head Records (RIP). Shortly after my fated Pelican purchase, I was introduced to both Goatsnake and Greg Anderson’s other band, Sunn O))), and Flower of Disease entered constant play in my apartment. I didn’t realize it would be more than ten years before their latest release, Black Age Blues graced our ears.

Now that Pelican is part of the Southern Lord Records family, it made perfect sense for two heavy hitting bands like this to join forces. In fact, I was so excited to see them, I went to the Indianapolis show as well because I didn’t want to wait one more day.

Many people have waited upward of five years to be able to catch Goatsnake live. The sold out show was the second stop on the four-date tour from Indianapolis to Chicago. This marked Goatsnake’s first time in this part of the country and the energy at the venue was electric.

The feeling at the show, both from the crowd and from the bands, reminded me of a raucous family reunion. Everyone in the crowd wore huge smiles and hugged and patted each other on the back, excited to be present for such a great experience. Pelican calmly took to the stage and immediately dove into “Dead Between the Walls.” They continued to deliver a fully charged set including such tracks as “Ephemeral” and “The Tundra,” all the way to the final note of “Mammoth,” with guitarist Trevor de Brauw writhing on the stage floor.

Goatsnake took to the stage and primed the crowd with a few of their older songs such as “Slippin’ the Stealth” and “The Orphan” before diving into “Black Age Blues.” Lead singer Pete Stahl excitedly dove into the crowd, singing with those around him while guitarist Greg Anderson toasted to everyone who came out to join them on what felt like a rowdy Saturday night. The PBR and pineapple vodka flowed as everyone reveled in the amount of musical talent that was present under one roof.

Two days later and my ears are still ringing but I would have gladly gone to all four shows on this tour and suffered the ear damage. Watching both bands perform, you can tell these songs and their instruments are an extension of their souls, making up the very fiber of their being. Being present to observe these amazing performances is very rare. As they say, some shows are worth the wait, and this is definitely one for the books.

—Sarah Churchill
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