BEING THERE: Wovenhand @ Underground Arts


Photo by DAN LONG

The rainy late summer evening cast a suitably gloomy pall over last night’s proceedings, but the damp masses in Philly’s Underground Arts created a sorta human humidity that sapped the luster of yours truly. I was there to bear witness to another performance by the tragically but not surprisingly unheralded Denver-based gothic Americana outfit Wovenhand. For the uninitiated please allow me to smarten ya up some: David Eugene Edwards, the wunderkind/visonary behind Wovenhand, has been making haunting, beguiling music in one aggregation or another since 2001. Before Wovenhand, Edwards helmed the awesome mule-kicking combo 16 Horsepower. He is unlike any front man I have seen. Ordinarily he is very private about the personal details of his life but he revealed in the documentary The Preacher (SEE BELOW) that his grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher who imbued him, from a young age, with a hellfire and brimstone ideology. This apocalyptic world view is palpably apparent in the music of both 16hp and Wovenhand alike. Which is not to say it’s Christian Rock — far fuckin from it yo — rather it is steeped in a parochial oeuvre. The previous Wovenhand shows I attended were way more rustic and toned down than they were last night at Underground Arts. In my previous encounters with Wovenhand — unmolested by the clusterfuck of gawkers staking out lip-of-the-stage real estate last night to see headliner Chelsea Wolfe — I was able to get close enough to the shamanistic Mr. Edwards to catch him as he went into a state of thrall, eyes rolling about his dome and a barely audible speaking in tongues. I’m carny enough to know a grift when I see it, but the fervor Edwards exhibited seemed genuine as, pardon the cliché, Hell. You don’t have to know the tunes to get the feeling; like salvation, it just washes over you if you let it. Halle-fucking-lujah, canyadigit? The latest incarnation of Wovenhand, enhanced by the inclusion of members of Planes Mistaken For Stars, swings from rustic Appalachian tones to full-on sonic tribal sturm und drang and last night they delivered 60 minutes of sonic gospel. It was a new experience for this acolyte and what it lacked in somber intimacy it more than made up for with majesty and throng. Chelsea Wolfe, though hardly my cup of tea, gets dap from me for taking Wovenhand on tour. Despite the humid overcrowded roomful of her fans (most of whom were politely indifferent and unmoved by WH) it was still revelatory. If ya ain’t down yet, ya should be. Thus sayeth the gospel of Bearer. You’re welcome… and AMEN bitches PAUL BEARER