Wolves In The Throne Room Delivers A Great Show In Philadelphia
When Wolves In The Throne Room entered the tiny stage in the basement of Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia on Thursday, September 15, a newfound sense of anticipation filled the suffocating air. The room became packed, like a busload of metal heads were suddenly dropped off outside the church just a few minutes prior. The smoke from the stage sucked out the oxygen, giving off a sudden wave of heat that resulted in heavy sweating and panting. The first notes of “Thuja Magus Imperium” echoed through the amps, and what transpired was an hour of gripping black metal that mingled well with the three other acts on the card.
Having a black metal show in a church may seem better suited for a late-night punchline, but for this show, it was very fitting. Wolves In The Throne Room has been going to off-beat venues this tour, including parking lots and barns. There’s a strong chance most of the crowd, which fluctuated between a handful of die-hards to a couple hundred, hadn’t been to a place of worship like Broad Street Ministry in a while. For them, this show was a spiritual awakening, an altar to bow down to a style of music known for its religious bashing and unholy ideologies.
Variety was key to the show, as each band had its own perspective on metal. Megaton Leviathan was from the epic doom mindset, with songs that went close to double-digits. Incense was burned, which left a hazy aerial trail that floated over the dark room. A projector gave off images of nature, waterfalls and wooded areas, a direct contrast to the dissonance on stage. The band was down to two members, as they used drum programming as backbone. They hit hard, never got out of first gear, and left many ears ringing in the process.
Woe and Vit both impressed with their 30 minute sets, the former powering through a set consisting of a new tune and a few songs from their excellent sophomore album “Quietly Undramatically.” The opening duo of “No Solitude” and “The Road From Recovery” were highlights in their set, which had the band working through slight technical issues. For having short downtime between sets, the issues were few from a technical stand-point.
The latter band provided some needed energy to the proceedings. Vocalist Nate Burns showed charisma and an infectious stage presence, moving around with what little space he had. When that wasn’t enough, he jumped into the crowd and moved his limbs like a seizure-induced mental patient. The crowd wasn’t as eager to join the fray, staring at him as one does a feces-throwing monkey at the zoo. Out of all the bands that came on stage that night, none of them had the jolt of Vit.
After a half-hour wait, which was prime for T-shirt purchasing and relaxing outside in the crisp chill of an impending change of seasons, the headliners sauntered onto the stage. The room was dimly lit, with LED lights on the neck of the guitars and a few blue spotlights displaying banners of woodland creatures the only light sources. The band charged in with “Thuja Magus Imperium” and went on to deliver three more lengthy tunes, including “Prayer Of Transformation” and the opus “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots.”
There was no circle pits or head banging to Wolves In The Throne Room. The crowd stayed silent, the occasional head-nod or foot-tapping the only expressive reactions given. The band had complete control over the audience, and their wall of noise was both hard to digest and soothing to the soul. The band did not interact with the crowd or pander for attention. This was a band with their heads in a certain place, attune to a certain mystic state of mind from the time they entered until an hour later, when they dropped their instruments and quickly walked off the stage.
It’s not everyday bands like Megaton Leviathan, Woe, Vit, and Wolves In The Throne Room get to play within 100 yards of a church, let alone in the lower floors of one. They made the most out of their unconventional setting, and put on over three hours of entertaining metal. These bands are some of the best that today’s underground has to offer, and it was great to see them go bonkers in an unfamiliar climate. Whatever the future holds for Wolves In The Throne Room, doing more DIY shows like this one should be a requirement.
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