Out on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Bohemian National Cemetery has hosted a few concerts over the past few years, including performances by Wrekmeister Harmonies and the Silver Apples. But until this past week, I hadn’t made it out to any of these “Beyond the Gate” shows, which are presented by the Empty Bottle. I was there on Thursday, Sept. 10, for the concert by Earth, Disappears and Holy Sons, with appropriately atmospheric DJ sets by J.R. Robinson of Wrekmeister Harmonies.
The stage was next to the Marsaryk Memorial Mausoleum (No. 15 on this map), not far from the corner of Pulaski and Bryn Mawr. There aren’t any graves in that section of the cemetery, but tombstones and trees are visible off in the distance to the east.
It was still light outside as people showed up and Holy Sons (led by Emil Amos, who also plays in Grails, Om and Lilacs & Champagne) started off the show with bluesy hard rock.
It was getting dark by the time Disappears took the stage, with shimmering, clanging guitar chords ringing out across the lawn. The Chicago band’s latest album, Irreal, is another solid addition to its discography, but a couple of older tunes were the highlights for me. The set ended with Disappears locked into a Krautrock groove that gathered strength as it repeated and repeated.
As Earth played the final set of the night — slowly grinding out its thundering, mountainous instrumental music — guitarist Dylan Carlson cast huge shadows on the wall of the mausoleum behind him. I departed a bit early, just because I wanted to get to the Empty Bottle for that night’s “after show,” heading to my car on Bryn Mawr as Earth played its final song of the night. Walking on the sidewalk along the cemetery, I looked back across the rows of tombstones and heard Earth’s ethereal chords floating through the night air.
The Seattle band Earth, which has been making slow, pounding instrumental rock music since 1989, played Wednesday night, June 8, at Chicago’s Mayne Stage. Earth’s leader and founder, guitarist Dylan Carlson, calmly played stately riffs from the group’s new album, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I, as well as compositions going back to Earth’s earliest recordings. The band’s current lineup — all-female, other than Carlson — was anchored by the drumming of Adrienne Davies, who’s been with Earth since 2005. She looked like the slow-motion film of a regular drummer, lifting her arms into the air and bringing down the drumsticks with thump. The two newest members of Earth, cellist Lori Goldston and bassist Angelina Baldoz, completed the band’s quasi-orchestral wall of sound. This was heavy music, but not of the head-banging variety — more meditative than metal.
The opening act, Ô Paon, was very impressive in her own right. That’s the stage name of Montreal native Geneviève Castrée, who currently lives in Washington state. (She’s also and artist and writer.) Singing completely in French (with some vocal quirks reminiscent of Björk), she used looping pedals to build vocal harmonies and repeating guitar chords. Ô Paon seemed to entrance the quiet and attentive audience with her idiosyncratic songs. I know she won me over, in any case. At the merch table, I picked up Ô Paon’s self-released 2010 album Courses, which features arrangements by Thierry Amar of the great Montreal bands Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It’s a good listen.
This was my first visit to Mayne Stage, a fairly new venue in Rogers Park. I liked the look and sound of the room. The U-shaped balcony and high ceiling reminded me of Lincoln Hall. Mayne Stage apparently puts out tables on the floor for many shows (which would give it something of a Park West vibe), but the floor was open for the Earth concert. The acoustics were crystal-clear.