Holy Wars, Iress, Nightmare Air, Slugs At The Satellite, Monday August 7th 2017
I have been talking about Holy Wars since the first time I saw them, about five months ago, and last night they were playing first during night one of Nightmare Air’s residency at the Satellite, presented by KROQ Locals only and Play Like a Girl. However, when you talk about Holy Wars, you have to talk about Kat Leon, the dark orphan rock warrior who fronts the band, as she commands the stage with a fearless stage presence and a strong aesthetic vision. I like that they cite the eclectic music blend of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Savages, Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age and Chelsea Wolfe as their main influences, because they really sound like none of these bands, but, at the same time, I can see the Siouxsie and the Banshees’ spirit and the rock-arena darkness that bands like above can bring. You won’t be able to find too many songs from Holy Wars on the web, they are a very young band but have nevertheless put out the very emotional ‘Mother’ EP, with a hard-hitting and heavy combination of rock-pop-synth, often venturing into an atmospheric industrial noise. It’s loud and violent like the lightning last night, and the delivery is highly dramatic. The titles of the songs reveal about everything you need to know about them, ‘Orphan’, ‘I Can’t Feel A Thing’, ‘Warrior’, as long during which Kat repeats ‘you don’t know pain’ with plenty of raw emotion over harsh beats and a haunting cold soundscape. Kat Leon moves like a rock star, she threw herself in people’s arms last night and jumped in the middle of the crowd several times, and all this looked beautiful. Their songs were written during very dark times, after the passing of Kat’s parents in 2015 and if the music was born from pain and heavy darkness, they are coming from a daring warrior and meant for personal empowerment in a cruel world.
Iress was a total change of pace and space, the band was chasing ghosts in the darkness, and the powerful reverb lament of their frontgirl Michelle Malley was reminding me about Chelsea Wolfe (once again). The guitars built a wall of icy cold noise and the most lugubrious shoegazing landscape you could imagine, as their set was all about heavy atmosphere and massive darkness. These young girls and boys had a very distinctive sound, a slow throbbing one flirting with doom metal at times, opening nightmarish visions of a snow-covered world where the only semi-reassuring thing was Malley’s melancholic and mournful vocals… one thing is sure if the apocalypse is coming, it’s slow paced and very loud.
Nightmare Air is the residency band all August long at the Satellite, and if you attend some of their Monday shows, be prepared for more loudness. With their girl-boy harmonies, but mostly girl, they are looking for the epic and the layered with a lot of assurance. Give two guitars to two confident young musicians and see what they can build with an elegant amalgam of noise, dance, harmonies and rock power. They have been compared to Silversun Pickups, A Place to Bury Strangers, No Age, My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Mars Volta and The Smashing Pumpkins, and if it’s difficult to justify each one of these comparisons from what I have heard yesterday, but I can say that they were certainly louder than Silversun Pickups but not as loud as My Bloody Valentine! They had layered their sound with a synth and their propulsive type of rock could be very dance-y and upbeat at times, so I don’t really get the shoegaze label often associated to their act. In any case, they brought the crowd to move along their massive sound which could barely mask Swaan Miller’s eerie and fragile vocals. In 2013, their debut studio full-length ‘High in the Lasers’ was mixed by Dave Schiffman (Nine Inch Nails, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Mars Volta) and mastered by Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, The White Stripes, U2) and they were launched into a solid rock ‘n’ roll circuit.
It was past midnight when Slugs took the stage, and their girl harmonies over their bedroom rock songs were oscillating between dreamy ideas and exuberant fun. The two girls of the band were leading the game with catchy harmonies and during their slower ballads lead singer Marissa had sometimes the nonchalance of a Courtney Barnett in her delivery. However, their songs and howls were respectively explosive and loud enough to qualify for good old rock ‘n’ roll.
The Nightmare Air residency is continuing each Monday in August at the Satellite, last night was just an ordinary weekday in LA, a city with a forever growing music scene, which can provide an endless exploration every day.