True Widow live at the Islington Academy

True Widow / Broken DC
Islington Academy
9th April 2014

Set in the middle of a shopping centre in Angel, the Islington Academy hardly has the history that many of London’s venues have, however a band worth its crust should be able to transcend any potential limitations of its venue, right? And did True Widow? Well that’s we’re about to find out…

First on the stage was London’s Broken DC with their seismic blend of 90s indebted alt. rock and crushing post-rock. Though their influences may be clear (from Slint to Trail of Dead to Russian Circles), they’re far from being slaves to them, with enough varied instrumentation and time signatures to truly enrapture the growing audience. The two duelling guitars truly play off each other, before coming together for some of the night’s heaviest moments.

Dallas’s True Widow know exactly what they want to do and how to do it exceptionally. Their minimal setup is all fuzz and stomp, creating longingly drawn out slow burners. They are essentially the innovators of this particular craft, so much so that their entire set (unsurprisingly to those who know them on record), never deviates from this template.

Heavy on tracks from last year’s sublime Circuambilation record, particular highlights included ‘Four Teeth’, where bassist Nicole Estill takes the lead vocal duties, with its yearning drone forcing the audience to sway in zombie-like motion. Throughout the set, the band are completely on point, it seems almost effortless.

As note perfect as each track was, at times it felt like the music was simply not quite loud enough. Where I wanted the bass heavy tracks to reverberate in my chest, it did not. I wanted to be pummelled by the sound. The band play on the tag ‘stoner-gaze’, though the stoner element was definitely more at the forefront on this occasion. Live reviews of shoegaze bands over the years have bemoaned and praised the volume levels of these shows, so I appreciate it is a fine art getting it just right, while being able to appreciate the song-craft – however True Widow’s tracks are in essence far heavier than most shoegaze bands and would have surely been heightened by a few extra decibels. This is perhaps where the venue could have played a part. A smaller basement venue could have housed the band’s sound perfectly.

The band are clearly progressing and picking up new fans along the way, but here’s hoping larger venues that are opening up to them doesn’t diminish what makes them truly powerful.

Augustus Groove