Before this year’s Rocktober formally began, several must-attend events swarmed upon the Los Angeles area on the close of September. Highlights included Interpol performing Turn on the Bright Lights, the Music Tastes Good festival and Chelsea Wolfe playing The Regent in support of her just-dropped new album Hiss Spun.
For Wolfe’s hardcore acolytes, the aforementioned brutal scheduling conflict didn’t really matter, because they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. The word “otherworldly” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s only part of the story. Rather, Wolfe’s music taps into primal forces within and beyond, and it’s that uncanny power that proved enthralling for the sold-out mix of metalheads in battle vests, black-clad goths and indie rock nerds alike. The Wolfe Pack came for not a show, but an experience like no other, and that’s exactly what they got.
Hiss Spun is definitely Wolfe’s most metal album yet, and the heaviness manifested in potent ways at The Regent. Onstage, Wolfe and company cranked the ’90s-flavored hard rock and industrial tones to 11, with tracks such as “Vex,” “16 Psyche” and “The Culling” taking no prisoners in their mission to melt faces and shred souls. Even Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, who played on Hiss Spun, surprised and delighted fans as he graced the stage to shred during some songs from the album. Sometimes it pays to catch a show in LA!
The dichotomy between dark and light is one that’s been inexorably tied to Wolfe’s music since the beginning, and it’s more relevant than ever. Onstage, Wolfe didn’t merely wear the darkness of the world and her inspirations as a garment like so many others. Rather, she channeled them for our benefit. It was as if Wolfe turned the overwhelming nature of reality and our personal demons against them long enough for us to catch a breather and make some peace while momentarily unencumbered. In response, jaws often literally dropped wide open—especially during the apocalyptic finale of “Halfsleeper”—and tears streamed from dilated eyes before being discreetly wiped away. Now that the darkest and heaviest moments are downright abyssal and crushing, the light side shone especially bright. With Wolfe’s heaviest phase came the greatest catharsis.
If it weren’t for an all the digital ink spent detailing Wolfe’s history of stage fright and anxiety, it could have been a secret. At The Regent, Wolfe appeared as a siren towering over the masses from a veil of ectoplasm, cool, assured and determined to wreak havoc on out senses. Pro tip: when you’re in the front and Wolfe makes eye contact, the experience triggers the existential worries of worthiness and redeemability one would expect when encountering a higher being whose piercing stare can zoom in on whatever’s at the core of your soul.
Opener Youth Code set the tone for the evening with a set of heavy industrial wickedness. Between songs, Sara Taylor demanded the hometown crowd let loose, with a little bit of pit action ensuing as Ryan George unleashed their signature hardcore dance sound.
Check out our full gallery below.
Catch Chelsea Wolfe on tour with Youth Code this fall:
Oct. 3 Tucson, AZ 191 Toole
Oct. 4 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
Oct. 6 Austin, TX Paramount Theatre
Oct. 7 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
Oct. 8 Dallas, TX Kessler Theatre
Oct. 10 Nashville, TN Exit/In
Oct. 11 Atlanta, GA Aisle 5
Oct. 13 Chapel Hill, NC Cat’s Cradle
Oct. 14 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
Oct. 15 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
Oct. 17 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Oct. 19 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair
Oct. 20 Montreal QC Le National
Oct. 21 Toronto, ON The Opera House
Oct. 22 Detroit, MI El Club
Oct. 24 Chicago, IL Metro
Oct. 25 St. Paul, MN Turf Club
Oct. 27 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
Oct. 28 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
Oct. 30 Seattle, WA The Showbox
Oct. 31 Vancouver, BC Venue Nightclub
Nov. 1 Portland, OR The Wonderland Ballroom
Nov. 3 Sacramento, CA Ace Of Spades
Nov. 4 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
Words and photos by Frank Mojica