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2008-10-11 IL – Chicago - Reggie’s Rock Club

Sometimes when the metal doesn’t come to you, you have to go to the metal. That’s what I had to do in order to see Swedish black metallers WATAIN. Having heard the stories of their live shows consisting of blood and Satanic theatrics, I had to see them. This being their second tour of the United States, I was saddened that they were not coming to my city. I wasn’t about to miss them this time. So I opted to travel five hours to the city of Chicago, Illinois for a night of black metal.

Arriving at the club, which was small and dark, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was in store for. The first band, Seattle’s :: BOOK OF BLACK EARTH :: took the stage. Claiming to be black metal, I was immediately disappointed with what I heard. It sounded like nothing more than trendy metal core that you see on Headbangers Ball. I lost interest in this band quickly and was glad that their set was short.

Next up was Atlanta, Georgia’s :: WITHERED :: This band also claimed to be black metal. Not so according to my ears. They sounded more like stoner metal mixed with death metal with only a few elements of black metal thrown in. They were interesting, as they had two vocalists that would duel back and forth. However tolerable their set was, I was just happy when it ended so that I could see what I came there for, which was the mighty Watain.

I made my way down to the front of the stage. As the stage was set up, it suddenly turned into an alter. With candle operas, chains and upside down crosses placed amidst the stage. Even incense was burned. Monitors were covered in plastic, and one of the stage hands came up to me and said “You know there is going to be blood.” I knew there would be blood, but now I wondered if it was to be a Gwar type massacre. I didn’t move from my place though. The lights dimmed and :: WATAIN :: appeared in all their satanic glory.

Small in structure, bassist/vocalist Erik Danielsson emitted a monstrous stage presence. He seemed to ooze evil. As they broke into the song Devil’s Blood the crowd was in awe. The other members were just as intense, and I noticed that each member had blood dripping down their arms, not an abundance, and not like stage blood, but it seemed rather their own blood Erik’s vocals were extremely powerful and full of reverb, which sounded wicked. He performed like a man possessed by the devil literally. With the help of the red stage lights, his eyes looked as if they were taken over by another force. In the middle of a song, when not singing on the mic, I noticed that he would start chanting, it was quite bizarre.
As they tore into my favorite song Satan’s Hunger the crowd went into a frenzy, as the ferocity of the song prevailed. Suddenly mid way through the low end and bass drum mic’s lost power. This made the song sound incredibly weird. The band forged on and the sound resumed to the way it should be. I couldn’t help but notice that WATAIN’s music seemed to conjure up dark forces. The band was tight as fuck live. With an additional live guitarist from Chile added to the mix.
As they played the title track to their 2007 album Sworn To The Dark, the audience seemed to sing along with the chorus, which gave Erik a look of pleasure. Erik didn’t speak much to the crowd at all, only once to dedicate the song Legions Of The Black Light to the late Dissection front man Jon. During the final song Stellarvore he got the crowd yelling “Hey!” it seemed to add to the live ritual.

WATAIN came back for one encore and then hastily made their retreat off stage with no audience contact what so ever. As a black metal fan, this show was one of the most intense and evil I have ever witnessed. It was well worth the five hour drive to Chicago.


story & pics ©  Goddess Sioux