True Widow joined Kurt Vile on his UK tour in support of their sludge feast of a third album released earlier this summer titled ‘Circumambulation’. Guitarist and vocalist, Dan “DH” Philips defined the term Circumambulation, as “walking around the perimeter of scared object”. In the case of True Window, that sacred object would most likely resemble some ominous, sluggish entity trudging towards eternal darkness. For a band that self proclaim their music as ‘stonergaze’, this all seems rather comical, but it is a useful starting point for understanding their crude musical framework.
It was clear that as soon as the Texas three-piece lumbered on stage and slung their axes over their shoulders that this was going to be a heavy affair. Each song had a similar brooding feeling that they may have been written as a result a pot fuelled session in the back of a broken down tour van amidst the Nevada desert. This image was repeatedly pounded into the minds of onlookers through persistently droning bass, methodical drums, and Josh Homme-esque guitar riffs. At first glance, True Widow came across as a noise mongering rock band with little regard for differentiation of melody or rhythm, and a love of the Melvins.
However, the heavy blanket of grit smothering the bands music was often lifted and the bands subtle influences crept through, suggesting True Widow aren’t just another stonerdoom band. Elements of slowcore, like those promoted by 90s bands such as Coedine, Bedhead, and the New Year, hid beneath all that darkness and held together a concise aesthetic that prevented the music from spiralling into nothingness. This was especially apparent when Nicole Estill’s vocals came through on ‘FOURTH TEETH’, which also highlighted why the band associate themselves with shoegaze. Although, there were some noticeable problems regarding tunefulness when Philips and Estill combined vocal duties, perhaps they were too stoned to realise, the songs didn’t lose the forceful charm that can be found on True Widow’s recordings.
Looking around the crowd as the set drew to a close you could spot a number of fans in a hazy state of euphoria, one of them being Kurt Vile who was pounding his fists towards the heavens in acceptance of rock. The rest of the crowd looked on bewildered and unsure of what they had just experienced, they’d only turned up early to get a good spot for Kurt Vile.
Words: Evan Clements