Some bands just go together like peanut butter and jam. No, there’s no combination better than that – don’t try to argue with me! But, I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, a tour can have two bands that are seemingly entirely different, and yet somehow it just works. Windhand and Russian Circles might be two VERY different sounding bands, but both bands brought something to the table and all the metal fans at the Fairmount Theatre were more than happy to take in both sounds, for what would be a very hot, packed and sold out show!
Kicking off the evening was Stoner-Doom group Windhand, from Richmond, Virginia. In 2013, Windhand released a record titled Soma that took the Doom Metal world by storm. It was the perfect balance of melodic stoner doom, with the vocals of Dorthia Cottrell providing the perfect balance of ethereal harmony. That sound is something they nail every time they play live, and that night was no different. They opened with “Old Evil,” a track from a split EP they did with Satan’s Satyrs (RIP). Everyone was instantly locked in, headbanging in unison as the entire venue vibrated with the earth-shattering riffs from Garrett Morris and Parker Chandler and the pummeling drums of Ryan Wolfe. And Dorthia’s voice sounds even better live than on record. They played through as much of a career-spanning set as they could, considering they only had 45 minutes – which includes “Diablerie,” “First to Die,” and “Orchard.” Windhand are not known for their short songs, so they were only able to fit in six songs, but I have no doubt the crowd could’ve easily taken in another six – at least, that was how I felt!
Russian Circles went up next as the headliner of the evening, promoting their latest record, Blood Year. Before I get to how they were (spoiler alert – fucking amazing!), I want to mention that Russian Circles are on a record label called Sargent House. In the past few years, their artists, which include Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, DIIV, Brutus, and The Armed, are responsible for creating some of the most diverse and interesting genre-defying albums of the last decade. So, when any of their bands/artists come to town, you do yourself a major disservice by not going to see them. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the Russian Circles show sold out.
As the haunting intro sounds of “Hunter Moon” played over the PA, the Chicago-trio consisting of Mike Sullivan, Dave Turncrantz, and Brian Cool walked on the stage and launched into the first track of the evening, “Arluck.” For anyone that’s listened to a Russian Circles record before, you know two things – they’re an instrumental band and their records contain a dense array of sounds, something that would be hard to replicate live. Mike Sullivan does it with a huge pedal board, consisting of every effect imaginable and pedals that let him loop his riffs over each other, creating that eclectic sound that Russian Circles are known for live. The atmosphere was amazing as they ripped through songs like “Deficit,” “Milano,” “Vorel,” and, the closer of the evening, “Youngblood.” It’s no easy achievement for a completely instrumental band to grab (nay, demand!) an audience’s attention the way Russian Circles do. It’s almost impossible to not find yourself in a trance as you watch this incredible band.
Written by Dominic Abate
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy