Austra & Cold Cave @ The Biltmore – 7/21


That anogram displays some words that come to mind when watching Katie Stelmanis exhibit an ethereal display of depth in her voice. Austra displays a cool confidence that I seldom see on stage. Lyrically dark and mysterious, the message exuded to the crowd has its own meaning in each individual, who all seemed caught in a gaze.

The shouts from Jay-Z, a Polaris prize nomination, and the addition of two female backup singers has encouraged a new crowd to open their ears and souls to Austra. The ever so polite band members Dorian, Maya, and Ryan were just as I remember them last time they came to play a late night pary at Goody… Happy, excited, and ambitious for more…When the curtains drew, Ryan’s keys echoed through the Biltmore as the build of “Darken Her Horse” introduced the stylish Katie alongside the two Lightman sisters. Next, “Hate Crime” (my personal crush at the moment) gave the audience a up-tempo energy to attract the attention from all the wandering eyes that you always find at this trendy venue. “Lose It” (the most recent single) began with cheers, and familiar faces throughout the crowd were singing along as Katie operatically performed her well placed vocals. As I plugged the crowd for feedback one glaring observation became evident from everyone, and that was the look on everyone’s face as they speechlessly nodded, gave a thumbs up while remaining locked in awe, helplessly engaged with the music.

The biggest distance from the last performance I saw months back at Goody was the addition of the sisters Sari and Romy Lightman, of Tasseomancy. The addition of these backup singers seemed to complete the depth I expect from this bunch of talented musicians. As the set wrapped up with “Spellwork”, everyone cheered, some approached the band for questions and hellos…  (See more below)

Cold Cave… woah. Simply put, they were the most energetic set I have seen to date in this genre of electro pop. I never anticipated what I was about to see and experience. If this was your first ntroduction to this trio, a gift was placed in your ears and eyes as they took the Biltmore over with their blue glow. Understanding the similarities to New Order and 80’s New Wave, I couldn’t help but feel those butterflies you get when you know something great is happening.

Without a change in the lighting the entire set, riddled with blue light and fog machines, the three members sounded more like six as all the layers of synthesizer, drums, guitar, and sampler flooded my ears.

Wesley Eisold started Cold Cave in 2005 as a personal project, and as he has evolved, so has the members of his band. The “relatively unknown to west coast” Dominick Fernow (Prurient) was the most energetic Synth player I’ve seen to date. He had dance moves six ways to Sunday and even picked up members in the audience to dance with briefly as he layered the electronic backing to the ever so catchy lyrics of Wesley. I had a chance to meet briefly with Alex (Drummer) who had expressed the switch from Hardcore Punk rock to New Wave Electro Punk was a satisfying one because they were able to carry the energy through to this project. The only little issue I felt was that Cold Cave was a little too loud. But if you positioned yourself correctly, it was loud in a good way.
If I can attest one thing about live performances it is this: When a band is so passionate about their energy on stage it emulates and embraces the audience to connect beyond the typical recording. This energy doesn’t have to be in the  form of intensity or craziness, but rather a form that creates a movement in your limbsm takes shape of the music you hear, and extends its hand to your thoughts as you take it all in.

These bands are a great combination of emotion, energy and surreal performing. Whomever put this line-up together should be taken out for nice dinner and a bottle of vino.

Words & Cold Cave photos by Roland Poulin
Austra photos by Beatrix



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