By Rachael Bohlander, Contributor, DC Music Live
Wovenhand and its front man and driving force, David Eugene Edwards, are legendary for powerful, and disturbing, live performances. Edwards does not so much perform as deliver an apocalyptic tour de force. A man possessed.
David Eugene Edwards and Wovenhand did not disappoint.
If the expectant, excited chatter around me was any indication, unlike most of the black-clad attendees last Sunday at DC9, I was one of only a few Wovenhand newbies. I had never experienced Wovenhand live. Wasn’t sure what to expect.
Adding to my obvious Wonvenhand virginity, I was wearing just about every color but black. Really hoping Edwards wasn’t one to focus his delivery on particular people in the audience. Feeling a bit of trepidation. A group of Edwards veterans were eyeing me from the corner.
Some movement near the stage and the chatter died down. Then, a hushed awe. David Eugene Edwards was taking the stage.
Tall, lanky, bearded, in black, face shadowed by the brim of his hat, large cross prominently displayed at his neck, glinting. He is
every inch the lonely scarecrow, revivalist preacher, brutal unforgiving rugged landscape that figure so strongly in Wovenhand’s songs.
Forgoing the usual banalities of “Hello, D.C.! Happy to be here, happy to see you! Happy to introduce our new album, The Laughing Stalk, to you!” (then again, Edwards does not strike me as the happy go-lucky sort), he simply takes over. Stalking, stomping, right up to the edge, you think he’s going to leap over, then pulling back, yanking the mesmerized audience forward again.
Edwards doesn’t so much as play the music as exude it, as if it is oozing, bursting, exploding from anywhere it can escape the narrow confines of his frame. Eyes rolling, body writhing, stomping, twisting, turning, angry possessed fingers moving manically along strings.
(Another sign of my Wovenhand virginity, I lost my adult beverage in the opening 30-seconds of the show to the tip of Edwards’ boot, which escaped the edge of the stage just long enough to knock it over. No one else made this error in bottle placement.)
Edwards’ story is well known. His formative years were spent traveling Colorado with his grandfather, a Nazarene preacher. At 17, he left the congregation to explore a more personal relationship with God. But should you confuse his decision to leave with a choice to adopt a kinder, gentler, more forgiving brand of Christianity, it would be at your peril.
Evil reigns in Edwards’ world. It is everywhere. It is in everyone. It is in you. Damned until saved.
And while preacher to his congregation, Edwards does not offer salvation. He is the voice of a fearsome, apocalyptic dark messenger and warrior. Admonishing and warning, hellfire is coming, battle must be done.
Epic, bloody battle. Battle for the soul. Edwards has not come in peace. He comes with swords. Which he announces to the audience.
The music, a violent, melodic ranging feast of psych pop, punk, rock, traditional folk, and country, soars and dips, terrifies and entrances. It is dark, intense and apocalyptic. Yet exuberant in its delivery.
And just as Edwards give shape and form to the music, the songs give voice to his message. Passion. Suffering. Burning. Pain. Self-doubt. Belief. Damnation. Salvation. Good. Evil. Raw elements exploding against each other. And together.
Subtle? Never. But rarely are the raw emotions, highs and lows, that define being human. And whether or not you can relate to Edwards’ particular strain of hellfire and brimstone, we can all relate to the daily struggle to define who we are and what we want to be.
Wovenhand’s recordings may fail to capture the force of nature that is Edwards or the power of conviction of his beliefs. But Edwards, live, is an experience that should not be missed.
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