Earth and Ô Paon at Mayne Stage

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.