Live review: She Past Away, Drab Majesty & Witch of the Vale at Audio, 08/06
It’s been a while since I last went to Audio, but with a sold-out co-headline show featuring She Past Away and Drab Majesty playing on the same weekend in June, tonight promises to see one of the most exceptional line-ups to have ever graced its stage.
First on are Witch of the Vale, the much-loved Scottish electronic duo of Erin and Ryan Hawthorne. These two have gained quite a following since their first performance supporting Clan of Xymox last year, and for good reason. Combining elements of fantasy and horror, the ethereal nature of their music is spellbinding. As the creeping sounds of opening track ‘Fever’ immediately attract the room’s undivided attention, their otherworldly aura is complemented by smoke machine fog and the primordial rhythm of a single tom drum.
Erin’s lyrics meanwhile describe tales of torment that come from a secret place but nevertheless convey how much strength there is in weakness - every line in ‘Your Voice’ is hauntingly fatal, and the purity of her voice soaring over Ryan’s delicate piano compositions is enough to give anyone goose bumps. It’s their most composed performance yet, and the crowd’s lengthy applause after ‘Death Dream’ is a reflection on just how charming Witch of the Vale truly are.
Drab Majesty has easily become one of my new favourite bands this year, so it’s extremely intriguing to see them up next. By this point the venue is packed, and sure enough alter-egos Deb Demure and Mona D enter the scene dressed in matching leather jackets, blonde wigs, dark shades and silver makeup. The pair are almost droid-like in their appearance as Deb fans himself and Mona performs an extended synth intro, but then ‘Dot in the Sky’ suddenly teleports us a different universe until ’39 By Design’ brings us back down to Earth with the words “You really wanted to die”. Simultaneously depressing and dreamy, their 80s-inspired ‘tragic wave’ makes you feel like you’re floating on air and drowning in emotion at the same time.
There’s something about their atmospheric reverb sound that reminds of The Chameleons (UK) in a way, and Deb’s hollow vocals are just as sublime live as they are on record; still, it’s a delightful surprise when Mona takes the lead during ‘Oxytocin’ off the upcoming album. ‘Cold Souls’ later gets the audience ecstatic, and as the main lights go down for ‘Not Just a Name’, the LED lights attached to their jackets illuminate their faces to ensure that their exit is just as magnetic as their entrance. As sad as I am not to have heard their single ‘Ellipsis’, I definitely won’t be the only one seeing them again when they return to Glasgow in September.
The time then comes for the final post-punk/darkwave duo of the night, She Past Away. This Turkish band’s songs are such a go-to for goth clubs that their sound always feels strangely familiar despite the language barrier, and after the eccentricity of Witch of the Vale and Drab Majesty, it’s actually refreshing to see Volkan Caner and Doruk Öztürkcan appear with straight up eyeliner and hairspray. As black and white illustrations are projected onto a screen, they launch into the poetic verse of their mother tongue with ‘Belirdi Gece’ before the glorious riff to ‘Sanri’ becomes instantly recognizable.
Although She Past Away treat us to the rest of their discography throughout the evening, it’s great to hear some new tracks off their recently released third album too. ‘Disko Anksiyete’ and ‘Durdu Dünya’ both prove to be just as danceable as their other hits, and there’s swaying all around as people express their admiration for them. Everything about their musical presence is incredibly mysterious, and between Volkan’s deep bass voice and high-pitched gasps, impressive drum machine beats otherwise keep the tempo going as signature post-punk guitar work creates an equally dread-inducing and calming effect. Speeding things up and getting the audience to clap along to ‘Bozbulanik’ during the encore, Volkan and Doruk finally end with the slow, bitter undertones of closing song ‘Hayaller?’.
It's hard not to feel like we've just witnessed three ultra-unique acts as we step outside to rejoin the real world. Sure, some shows are for screaming and shouting, but this one was simply about getting lost in the music. If Witch of the Vale, Drab Majesty and She Past Away each reminded us of one thing in their own way, it’s that there is infinite beauty to be found in darkness, and when the pull is that strong, you never want to leave.
Image credits: Ethan Beck, Barry Douglas and Jason Ross
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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