American doom-metal behemoths Windhand and Cough have joined forces for a double headline tour down under, with a show at Brisbane’s Crowbar (2 April) that was on fire… literally!
Windhand and Cough haven’t been in the southern hemisphere long, but they’re already causing trouble. The previous night’s show in New Zealand was shut down by police due to noise complaints.
Judging by the gossip among fans inside Crowbar, excitement to see how heavy the bands could get was high. Little did we know there were more than just noise complaints to worry about. Without warning, Cough appeared and played the riff to ‘Haunter In The Dark’. Despite how slow it was, the riff made up for it with its volume, causing the walls of the Crowbar to vibrate with every note.
When the rest of the band joined in, the whole venue began to shake. Early in my writing career I was told by a fellow writer I can’t talk about what music feels like because you can’t feel music. Well, Cough proved him wrong; I could feel the vibrations from the thick-as-molasses guitars and they felt amazing.
As Cough kept churning one earth-moving riff after another, I noticed a slight panic among venue staff. Panic in the venue rose, with staff running upstairs and some audience members following. Once Cough stopped playing, a staff member came on stage to warn punters of a fire in the venue and they needed to evacuate.
As we raced upstairs we passed a number of fire fighters charging down. At the evacuation point, punters were gossiping about what happened. Some mentioned smelling smoke; I heard a high-pitch noise I thought was guitar feedback, but could’ve actually been a fire alarm.
Word got around the crowd what actually happened: one of Cough’s speakers caught fire. Despite the danger, fans couldn’t help but laugh; Cough is so heavy they can make a speaker blow up. It definitely impressed a lot of metalheads.
After the all clear, the venue was re-opened. Without apologising for the chaos they caused, Cough finished the remainder of their set. They were probably just as surprised as everyone else, but there was no need to apologise. If anything, their display of heaviness earned them a lot of respect.
Finally it was Windhand’s turn to compete with Cough for the heavy metal crown. Refraining from pummelling their audience with their riffs – too many run-ins with emergency services lately might have done that – Windhand instead dazzled, especially with the vocals of Dorthia Cottrell.
With the group's recorded work, Dorthia’s vocals are usually buried under her bandmates’ crushing guitars. But tonight her voice soars high like a witch on a broomstick casting a spell on the village beneath.
While Cough singer Parker Chandler’s voice is a throat-shredding scream, Dorthia’s is a clean moan that became more haunting thanks to the psychedelic flavours added by guitarists Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris. When Dorthia sings: “Come on, Satan, surround me” in ‘Woodbine’, her voice could’ve summoned the dark lord himself.
While some talk from this tour will be about police and fires, Windhand and Cough’s music will dominate the conversation just as their bludgeoning riffs do.