Review: Rituals of Mine and Slothrust at The Chapel

in SF Concert Reviews by

Behind a couple of butts and a few drinks deep, I found myself on the mezzanine of The Chapel in front of the opening act Rituals of Mine last Saturday night. Originally from Sacramento and led by the lead singer Terra Lopez, I found her vocals to be that of a powerhouse. Her stage presence was both punk rock, playfully violent, and experimental. At times, Terra seemed to be having a conversation with her only other band mate on stage, drummer Adam Pierce. Terra would react during one of his solos, sometimes Adam getting so into it he would stand with her. It felt almost like a play. As if she was being riddled with insults, her shoulders would fire back and forth and immediately shift, soften, where she then would lean back and arch like she was being cuddled like a little baby. The flush of white, magenta and mauve strobe lights mixing with the light fog puttering from the machine backstage, gave their performance a dream­like aesthetic. After every song, Terra thanked the audience. The notion was an act of humility, but even more so her show of appreciation to the fans. I’d seen artists say this after their set, but not after every song. That was something special.

Terra and her Adam were dressed in all white, a subtle brushstroke of purity mixed with a vibe of a cult that immediately was met with the arcing vibrato of Terra Lopez’s voice. To put it simply: Lopez was a tour de force of humanity: scathing, vulnerable, and emotive, never backing away from a topic worth talking about or note worth hitting. Every time she craned her neck back and belted at the ceiling, she seemed to be reaching with every inch of her body, her being, and her soul. And with every thank you at the end of her song, with every head bow and smile, I felt how truly grateful she was to be performing her art for us. In that respect, all I could be was grateful back.

Slothrust took the stage about 30 minutes after. After a refill of my drink, I made my way downstairs to find the floor completely packed. Leah Wellbum is the front lady with support by Kyle Bann and Will Gorin. Immediately, they set the tone of all attitude, take it or leave it punk. Their sound was heavy, thrashing, Leah’s hand never ceasing to quit the beat down she was putting on the strings of her Stratocaster. They catchy too, a vibe of surf pop grunge that I found myself singing along even though I didn’t know a word. Leah owned the stage with her tiny, five or so foot frame and her white Converse shoes. In her all black get up, she strummed, hammered, and flew up and down the neck of her guitar. The crowd, after every song, threw up their horns. At one point, I even think they had to put down some ground rules for the mosh pit. I was staying away from that because one, I am a wuss, and two I needed to take my notes.

Their most recent album, Pact, was released in September 2018, though they were playing from everywhere in their catalog and the crowd cheered for it all. Part industrial, part blues, and even strains of jazz, Slothrust was seamlessly in synch, never forcing the energy, but letting it flow through themselves and the music. I wrote down the word PROFESSIONAL probably five times in my notebook, but they truly were. Never did I sense they were nervous or on edge. Never did I hear a falter or chaotic moment in their playing. They were simply having fun and in the smoothest way. When I later read they had all been together since their early days at Sarah Lawrence College, I realized why. Slothrust as a band and their demeanor while playing ­ fast, wide­stance, with rabid strumming ­ was pure, unadulturated all­present expression. As I watched them, pounding my fist on the bar, nearly taking my drink off the table, there was that beautiful transference of feeling that good music performed well always does.

Photo courtesy of Terrorbird Media

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction residing in San Francisco. Currently, he is a second-year graduate student at San Francisco State University studying fiction. He has been published in RiverLit, Penumbra Magazine, The Turks Head Review, The Bay Bridged, and MusicinSF.com.

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