GIG REVIEW: LACUNA COIL, 9ELECTRIC and PAINTED WIVES Live at Social Hall, San Francisco
Sairaj R Kamath
In the neat, colorful, tourist-infested streets of San Francisco, even the most casual Metalhead or Goth would stick out like a sore (black) thumb. Nowhere was this more apparent than at the Social Hall on the evening of May 7th, 2016 when Italian gothic metal masters Lacuna Coil hit the city as part of their US tour supporting their new album ‘Delirium’. Also in support that night were two Californian bands that more or less represented two sides of the great state’s rock scene: Los Angeles’ 9Electric, and Orange County’s Painted Wives.
Painted Wives hit the stage first, and just the fact that they were from Cali fortunately won them some attention from the milling crowd. The rest of that attention was righteously gained by their heavy yet catchy-as-hell stoner-doom riffage, as well as some mesmerizing vocals. The vocal harmonies by frontman Justin Suitor and guitarist Jeff Lyman were what really elevated their stoner-doom sound to another level, hitting that sweet spot between the balls-out heaviness of High on Fire and the spacey desert rock of Kyuss and early Queens of the Stone Age. Painted Wives’ entire sound and performance had an element of melody and grace to it that’s seldom seen in today’s Stoner/Doom Metal.
However, if Painted Wives were the sun-baked OC goodness of California, 9Electric were the leather-clad Hollywood vampires who broke that vibe to smithereens with their loud modern rock. Theirs was a set of typical 2000s-era hard rock peppered with electronica, consisting of hard knocks like “Let’s Get Naked” and “Time Bomb” as well as emotional numbers like “The Damaged Ones”. Typical or not, 9Electric won over the Cali crowd with their tight musicianship, energy, and a rockstar swagger that could only come from the Motley Crue-christened lengths of the Sunset Strip. The lead singer in particular seemed to favor crowd interaction above all else, and it didn’t hurt that the band threw in a shout-it-out-loud cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds” for good measure.
Finally, it was time for Lacuna Coil to take the stage. One by one, each member came out in their straitjacket-modeled custom-wear (except for singer Andrea Ferro, who was the only one in the band declared sane, I guess) and got right down to business with new songs like “House of Shame” and the title track off the new ‘Delirium’ album. Even though their set was the usual one for an established band – new songs, to less recent songs, to classic tunes from your early days, back to newer tunes, and then to the show-stopping anthems – it really showed the heavier edge that they had gained since ‘Broken Crown Halo’ in 2014. Lacuna Coil’s now-famous tracks like “Heaven’s a Lie” and “Swamped” got the biggest pops from the audience, who even went so far as to stomp the ground in a unified rhythm to bring the band back for an encore of “Enjoy the Silence”, “Trip the Darkness”, and the fan-favorite “Our Truth”.
The vocal and on-stage chemistry between singers Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro was as good as ever, with Ferro’s convulsing, crazy-eyed yang playing off Scabbia’s tortured yet graceful… well, other yang. The only problem with Lacuna Coil’s set was the slight drowning out of Scabbia’s voice in some sections by the guitars and drums, to the point where the choruses of some songs were unintelligible. Nevertheless, the solid bedrock of riffs, beats and bass by Marco Coti-Zelati, Ryan Folden, and new live member Diego Cavalotti did justice to band’s impressive discography.
All in all, this was one gig in Lacuna Coil’s US tour that hit the spot for rockers, Goths, and metalheads alike. The Italian metallers delivered a great performance with textured yet heavy-as-balls music, while two of Cali’s finest local talent got a great push to play some great rock n’ roll. If you’re a Coiler who actually concedes that there have been good LC albums after ‘Comalies’, catch their US tour at a venue near you.
Check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!