On Thursday I went with a couple of friends to see Wovenhand at Great Scott in Boston. I’ve been a fan of David Eugene Edwards for a long time – one of the very first concerts I ever traveled out of state for was 16 Horsepower at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Sadly, 16HP broke up years ago, but Mr. Edwards continues to tour with his newer band, Wovenhand.
I unfortunately didn’t do a very good job being a blogger at this show – when I left for work in the morning I wasn’t expecting to be able to attend the concert and didn’t bring anything with me – so I have no pictures, no videos, no notes, no nothing. Just a memory dulled by sleep deprivation and multiple unrelated emotional traumas. (It has been a seriously bad week…)
This was the fifth time I’ve seen this band, but it was very different than the previous shows I’d been to. When the show ended, I immediately turned to one of my friends and said “When did they get so HEAVY?!” The haunting, mostly-acoustic band I’d seen in past years had turned into a very heavy, very loud electric-guitar-based trio. Luckily, I like a lot of different kinds of music, and I still thought they were good. But it was very different from what I expected. There was head-banging, and a couple of people seemed to wish there was a mosh pit. If you’d blindfolded me I might not have known it was the same band I’d seen before.
While I missed the old-school Woven Hand I expected, I did really enjoy the “new” Woven Hand too. Mr. Edwards is one of the most charismatic performers I’ve ever seen, in his own peculiar way, and it’s hard not to enjoy watching him. He often bordered on creepy, with odd hand movements and a wide hat brim casting dark shadows over his eyes. I was reminded of the Nick Cave concert I saw recently – he has a similar ability to captivate an audience by combining a natural charisma with being slightly disturbing. He played a couple of electric guitars and only occasionally brought out his beautiful antique mandolin/banjo hybrid (check the Youtube video below to see him play that). He used two microphones for vocals, one of which was layering on some kind of effects – the other was nearly inaudible so I’m not exactly sure what it sounded like.
And speaking of the inaudible vocal mic: the sound quality was just awful. I was really disappointed in the venue for that. The bass was turned up to the point that it was making our clothes and hair vibrate, which meant it overwhelmed the rest of the sound, and as a result you could hardly hear the vocals at all and the guitar was not as prominent as it should have been in the role of lead instrument. Going to see David Eugene Edwards and not being able to hear his vocals is pretty sad – he has such a striking voice and he writes interesting lyrics that I’d like to hear. Unfortunately, the Boston/Cambridge scene has a lot of small rock venues with lousy sound (or lousy sound engineers, sometimes it’s hard to tell which).
Mr. Edwards did a gorgeous Tiny Desk concert on NPR a few years ago – quite different from the concert we saw last week, but still the same talented guy: