Emma Ruth Rundle @ Complex; Glendale CA
I ventured out last night to a show at Complex, in Glendale. I guess the last band I saw there was…Bongripper? Yeah, so last night was a very different show. Petheaven and Black Mare opened. I’ve been on an extreme Emma Ruth Rundle kick of late, so that’s where my mind was for the entirety of the first two sets.
It started back in October when Ian suggested I check out Marked For Death. At the time it didn’t really resonate. Life, doing what it so often does to us, found a reason to make it resonate when I approached it again recently.
As I wrote on Facebook last week, “I can’t stop listening to the Emma Ruth Rundle record…I’ve so enjoyed it I got tickets to see her in Glendale at Complex, and became irate when I saw there’s no local show on the Deafheaven / This Will Destroy You tour she’ll be a part of starting later this month.
“It’s a dark record, to be sure. At the time of its release I listened to it and sort of shrugged it off, but Marked For Death found me at the right time this week, and its darkness is nestling comfortably beside my own. It opens with a tale of two defeated lovers asking “Who else?” in the world could love them. And then comes “Protection,” a song whose melody and message have been literally stuck to me for the past 48 hours.
“In the press release for Marked For Death Rundle said of the song, “The subject matter is largely about being defeated and shrunken into the base human themes of love and loss. It’s a far cry from high art. It’s very much from the dirt.” I’d double-down on Emma’s statement by saying I don’t think it should be high art. The aesthetic value of a song like “Protection” does not reside in the sophistication of its melody or message. If you want to touch on the base human themes of love and loss — if you’re feeling hopeless and despondent, if your longing and your needs go unrequited — the dirt is a better (and way more natural) vantage point from which to process your thoughts or emotions. And Rundle expertly captures the essence of the dirt as the black, gritty instrumentation seems to continually increase volume before exploding into those fuzzy instrumental bits that follow the choruses. The rawness of her words are equally…for lack of a better word…dirty.
“Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that I’m projecting right now. Leave me alone in my little dirt patch to process things.”
So there she was, last night in Glendale, announcing to a packed room that she was incredibly nervous. This was apparently her first public performance with the current iteration of her backing band. I think any of us would be nervous on stage for the first time with a new cast around us. The first few songs of the night certainly had an uneasy energy to them. Maybe not uneasy…I would describe her stage presence during the first fifteen minutes or so as frenetic. She calmed considerably as the songs bled one into the next. In fact it might have been during “Protection” when she turned the corner and confidence finally appeared to conquer nerves. Later on she took her shoes off — if that’s not comfort I don’t know what is — and the night ended to rapturous applause and pleas for an encore. Not five minutes earlier she joked that she wasn’t going to walk off the stage just to come back and play one more song, but even after a quieting, stunning performance of “Shadows of My Name,” the crowd was not satiated. They stood and clapped and cheered for several minutes until a signal came from off-stage to cut the power and turn back on the lights. Could everyone in attendance have stayed another hour listening to the rest of her canon? Absolutely. Was it best to leave us yearning for more, or worse, looking at hotel room costs in San Francisco the night of that Deafheaven/This Will Destroy You show? Fuck yes.
I didn’t keep track of the setlist but she played most of the songs on Marked For Death and a few from Some Heavy Ocean. If she tossed in a song from another release I wouldn’t know its name anyway.
Emma Ruth Rundle – Protection [MP3]
Having seen Deafheaven a few times, This Will Destroy You a few times, and now Emma Ruth Rundle once, I can say unequivocally that you should make it your business to enjoy these artists live when they pass through your town on this upcoming tour:
Feb 23 San Francisco, CA –The Independent (Noise Pop)
Feb 26 Las Vegas, NV – The Bunkhouse Saloon
Feb 28 Albuquerque, NM – Sister
Mar 02 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
Mar 03 Dallas, TX – Trees
Mar 04 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio
Mar 05 New Orleans, LA – The Republic NOLA
Mar 07 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Mar 08 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
Mar 10 Charlotte, NC – The Underground
Mar 11 Richmond, VA – The Broadberry
Mar 12 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Sound Stage
Mar 13 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
Mar 14 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
Mar 15 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
Mar 17 Detroit, MI – Shelter at St. Andrew’s Hall
Mar 18 Bloomington, IL – The Castle Theater
Mar 19 Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater
Mar 20 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line
Mar 21 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room
Mar 23 Denver, CO – The Summit Music Hall
Mar 24 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Mar 26 Seattle, WA – Neumos
Mar 27 Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
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