It’s no secret that we at Some Girls Metal are rather fond of the various projects of Aaron Turner, both past and present. His most recent endeavor, Sumac, is no exception. Upon hearing they would be gracing the stage at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn not once but twice in a week, we made sure not to miss our chance to catch them live.
Turner has a commanding presence regarding his music. He seems to approach everything with a level of seriousness and care I feel the music scene in general is lacking. He stands no shorter than six feet tall and as he preps onstage, with brow furrowed and an intense look in his eyes, you can tell the only things he sees in front of him are his guitar, pedals, and amps. He is in his element and whatever sounds we’re about to hear are carefully crafted between him and fellow bandmates, Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn.
It is easy to see why Turner sought these specific people out while putting Sumac together. Cook’s bass playing with such bands as Russian Circles and These Arms are Snakes should be testament enough to the level of talent he possesses. Combine that with Yacyshyn’s force-of-nature drums (he may currently be one of the best drummers on the metal scene) and you have a lethal concoction. Every note, every moment, even the between-song looping feedback from Turner’s guitar felt deliberate and precise, almost like the sonic output from some obscure branch of math that you’d only learn by taking electives in school.
Not a word was spoken throughout the set, each member staying completely immersed in the music, but at the close, Turner turned and addressed the crowd with words that I have always felt should be said more often by people sharing something they love and are passionate about. Metal in general tends to have a bad reputation as being something fueled solely by anger, and this has always been true and perhaps may always remain so. As Turner stated, anger is in fact a part of metal and his creative process, but it stems from a place of love. A love of music, a love of playing, and a love of sharing it with people.
To me, that sentiment has always been at the core, and I was grateful to hear him share the same feelings. It is for this same reason that I go to shows, take pictures at concerts, share albums I love with friends, and am a part of Some Girls Metal. Metal has always provided me with “a place to go.” A place where my feelings of anger seem as if they were being described and somehow my wounds were being licked. It inspires me and drives me to put all of these feelings into my photography. As are the songs created by musicians not just a song but a part of them, so are my photographs not just a picture, but a part of me.
Sumac was joined at this show by Jaye Jayle and Nordra. Both felt like possible candidates for a Twin Peaks soundtrack, even while sounding very unalike, but I found myself more drawn to Nordra. This one-woman unit from Seattle is a mix of guitar, pocket trumpet, loops, and vocals. She is equal parts industrial and ambient with beautifully eerie vocals gliding on the surface. I hope to see her name crop up more in the future.
Jaye Jayle brought their own brand of punk infused blues with them from Kentucky. Formed in 2013 by vocalist Evan Patterson, this group has only released a run of limited 7” pressings, but with their catchy songs and vagabond vibe, they were already well known by the crowd. Forgoing house lighting and setting up their own single-bulb lighting system which gave their set a more down to earth vibe, as if they were stopping by a stranger’s house for a jam session.
Sumac has completed this leg of their tour but will join Neurosis and YOB for two very special performances in Seattle and Vancouver in support of Neurosis’ 30th anniversary. We look forward to seeing all of your beautiful faces in Seattle when we jump coasts to see how it’s done in Washington.