Heavy sounds to shake Garfield Park Conservatory | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Heavy sounds to shake Garfield Park Conservatory

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Update: To help slow the spread of COVID-19, this show has been postponed to a date to be determined in the future. Ticket holders should check with their point of purchase for refund or exchange information.


It’s only March, but this lineup will be hard for any other heavy rock show in 2020 to beat. Sleep bassist-vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius founded deep stoner trance outfit Om in 2003, and in 2008 Emil Amos took over for Hakius (who retired from music entirely the following year). A decade later, having already invited several guest musicians into the fold (former Chicagoan Robert A.A. Lowe toured with the band and played on two of their albums), Om formally expanded into a trio with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Tyler Trotter. Though they’ve yet to make a full album as a three-piece, last year Drag City released a live performance recorded at BBC 1’s Maida Vale studio, which provides a solid four-song snapshot of Om’s current sound—it’s as sinuous and twisty as a gigantic winding snake, with dreamy, driven atmospheres influenced by ragas and Middle Eastern music. Denver-based Wovenhand are one of the best live bands the U.S. has to offer right now. The brainchild of David Eugene Edwards (also the force behind 16 Horsepower), Wovenhand bring his surrealistic gospel aesthetic to life with their tranced-out, ferocious, Western-gothic metallic rock ’n’ roll—and he dishes out backwoods prophecy like Ronnie Van Zant with William Blake’s soul trapped in his body. Chicago Americana-metal band Huntsmen are the only group on the bill with a new record; their second full-length, Mandala of Fear (Prosthetic), comes out the day of this show. The follow-up to 2018’s spectacular American Scrap, it’s a cinematic concept album about a scarred and shell-shocked soldier journeying through a war-torn landscape. Singer Aimee Bueno, who turned in a haunting performance on Scrap’s “The Last President,” has joined the band full-time, and her vocals are especially mesmerizing on “God Will Stop Trying.” With its prog and folk influences, Mandala is a richly rewarding trip from start to finish, with highlights including the dense, slow pummelling of “The Swallow” and the drumbeats that open and anchor the monster-riffing instrumental “Pirates of the Waste.” Playing back-to-back in the beautiful surroundings of the Garfield Park Conservatory, these three bands all but guarantee a transcendent experience.   v

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