Review: Cold Cave at Red 7
By Andy O’Connor
Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 16, 2013
You can leave hardcore, but hardcore won’t always leave you. If there was a mantra for Sunday night’s Cold Cave show at Red 7, that was it. Wes Eisold’s electronic project is by far his most visible musical entry, but hardcore folks know him as the vocalist for American Nightmare (later christened Give Up The Ghost) and Some Girls. “God Made The World,” the third song of the night, ended abruptly when the visuals would no longer work. After much hassle, they continued on sans visuals. Prissier acts would have stormed off stage to hide in the green room, but in hardcore, you gotta do whatever it takes to keep the show going. Eisold’s probably dealt with worse.
Sunday’s performance was a slight return to Eisold’s hardcore roots, most notably in his vocal performance. Cold Cave are known for their treated vocals – in fact, much of the “female” vocal work on “Love Comes Close,” his first album under the Cold Cave banner, were his highly tweaked vocals. For this show, there was little vocal treatment. There was a smattering of echo, but it was largely Eisold at his barest, removing the mechanical nature of songs like “Love Comes Close” and “Youth and Lust” and approaching something more natural. Electronic music, at its finest, reveals the soul behind the machines, and Eisold certainly achieved that with his singing. “Underworlds U.S.A.” and “Icons of Summer” had loads of hardcore energy, as the audience reacted most to this, including, most notably, Nathan Opposition and Michael Jochum of local dark folk band Ancient VVisdom dancing with abandon. Even they can’t resist Eisold’s toughened up take on New Order-esque synth-pop.
Cold Cave, at its core, is just Eisold, and he’s had a variety of live lineups. Last Halloween, when Cold Cave opened for Divine Fits at Stubb’s, he had a full band with him that included AFI’s Hunter Burgan on bass, Samhain’s London May on drums, the Blood Brothers’ Cody Votolato on guitar, and David Scott Stone, who’s played with LCD Soundsystem and the Melvins, on electronics. Past live incarnations have included Caralee McElroy of Xiu Xiu and Dominick Fernow, who makes noise music under Prurient. This time, it was just Eisold on vocals and his girlfriend Amy Lee on electronics. Cold Cave’s latest releases have been a series of 7” EPs composed and performed entirely by Eisold, and this stripped-down live lineup certainly did those songs favors. Encore “Oceans With No End,” from the EP of the same name relased on Deathwish Inc. (headed by Converge frontman Jacob Bannon), was the most impassioned song of the night, taking the energy from “Summer” and “Underworlds” and ramping it up for one last go.