Review: Black Planet, Black World, Cold Cave Descends Upon Chicago

On a cold Wednesday night in Chicago darkness crept into the Metro. In one of the city’s most storied venues one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, Wes Eisold, took to the stage with his band Cold Cave, along with Detroit’s Adult. and Los Angeles’ Vowws.

Adult. are an interesting band to put it lightly. It’s possible to review an album, sure. It’s possible to critique a music video or social media campaign, whatever, yes. But when it comes to experiencing music, it is hard to describe the experience that is Adult.’s live performance. Husband and wife duo Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus have managed to synthesize (literally) the experience of living (and partying) in some post-apocalyptic, nuclear-fried Eastern Bloc factory rave. Imagine the nuclear bloom of a bomb accented by the sparkle of radiation as you find yourself bobbing and pogoing and nodding along to Miller’s instrumental arrangements. Take that sonic image and add Kuperus’ almost shamanic vocal delivery and you have something of an idea of what you’d experience seeing Adult. The duo somehow manages to conjure their own world out of simply a vocalist and the arrangements created on synths and other modular devices leaving the audience to piece together the dreamier details. They’re fascinating, adept, and in total control of their performance in spite of the primitive sounds they feed to the audience. A truly magnificent duo and one well worth your time.

Following Adult. were headliners Cold Cave and I knew what was in store. Cold Cave have existed in many iterations over the years with Wes being the captain of the ship until recently when his partner Amy Lee joined some three or four years ago (maybe five, Wes correct me). Throughout these changes I’ve been lucky enough to follow the band and track the ebbs and flows of their electronic, goth, post-punk style. In its more solidified, touring form Cold Cave function as a powerful unit with each of its five members (Wes and Amy as the two leaders, rounded out by two or three others) working in tandem to build out the dark, desperate, hopeful world that is Cold Cave.

Tracks like “People Are Poison” and “Loves Comes Close” gave nods to the isolation of humanity and the distance we share from one another while other tracks such as “Glory” and “My Heart Is Immortal” gave way to cutting through the darkness into a field of sunflowers and the hope of rebirth. Somewhere amidst the dark and gloom, Wes and Amy along with their cohorts conjured up an ending to the story they were telling in the final run of songs the dense, driving track “The Great Pan is Dead” was followed by sexy pleather night bus dancer “Youth and Lust” falling into their most recent single “Promised Land.” Cold Cave left us how they often leave audiences, with a light on to follow in the dark and acknowledging that while nothing is certain, somethings, like who we are and what we love, are true amidst every other apocalyptic message fed to us.

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Joshua Zoerner