Wednesday 9 December 2015

Live Review: “Warming Your Feet by the Fire” - All Them Witches @ Cat's Cradle. Carrboro, North Carolina, 01/12/2015

By: Victor Van Ommen

All Them Witches have an allure that speaks to rockers far and wide. Having made their start on Elektrohasch, they caught the eye of psychedelic freakers like myself. From there, they took the independent road, releasing an album that was more rooted in the blues but no less experimental. They toured this album incessantly, garnering a grass roots following as a result. With their new one, “Dying Surfer Meets His Maker,” All Them Witches signed to country label New West Records and put out an album that is more Elektrohasch than ever without sacrificing any of their North American, Psychedelta sound. And judging by the t-shirts I saw walking around at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle last Monday – everything from Opeth to Death Cab for Cutie - it’s clear that this is an album for all walks of life.

All Them Witches are touring the United States right now in support of this album. I was lucky to be close (enough) to one of their shows during my vacation last week. It was a no brainer to go and catch that show since they have yet to come to Europe. Here’s my story.

We pulled into Carrboro, North Carolina well after the sun had set but still before the onslaught of rain let up. Our Air BnB host left us a stack of cold ones in the fridge for some pre-show fun which kicked things off very positively. We headed down to Cat’s Cradle after downing a few of the IPA’s for what would be one of the most enjoyable shows of the year. Maybe it was because I was on vacation that I say this or that being out on the road with an old friend has its own vibe, but one thing’s for sure, All Them Witches knew how to lay down a set.

The atmosphere at Cat’s Cradle was very pleasant. From the folks we met to the local brews on tap, everything was spot on. New Madrid opened the musical programming of the evening and took charge of the stage rather quickly. They didn’t necessarily gel as a unit very much – each member was lost in their own little world – but the sum of their parts worked out really well. I had listened to their album “Sunswimmer” just once prior to the show, which apparently left a positive mark on me because I was able to recognize a good number of songs from that one listen. Despite it being a Monday night, the crowd’s reaction to New Madrid’s sun-soaked, southern-psychedelic rock songs was positive.

As enjoyable as New Madrid was, All Them Witches have laid down a few extra miles in their time and this shined through. I’m not sure how large the venues are that All Them Witches normally play, but for the 150 or so in attendance that night at Cat’s Cradle, the band were able to make every one of us feel like we were being treated to a private living room concert. The serene “Call Me Star” opened the set, ultimately melting seamlessly into “Open Passageways.” There was a lack of crowd response during the transition which had me thinking that not many were familiar with these new tunes. This impression was neither confirmed nor debunked as the set wore on because with each beat, All Them Witches hooked in the audience one by one with their mesmerizing jams. It was by no means a requirement to know these songs; their playing encourages hips to sway, feet to move, and even a little bit of dancing. All Them Witches played off of this crowd interaction during the jam in “Charles William” which graciously exploded into a rollicking performance by drummer Robby Staebler.

“The Death of Coyote Woman” was played with swagger, in particular how Charles Michael Parks Jr. stepped away from the microphone with a smirk every time he sang “right on.” Talisman” made everyone so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Staebler’s snare drum rang through the night while Parks sang with eyes closed, his voice echoing through the venue, creating a warm, cozy feeling. Much more went on during the set but this review is long enough as it is. I'll leave you with this - it may have been raining outside but inside Cat’s Cradle there was a fireplace burning.

Long story short, go see All Them Witches live. You won’t regret it