Live: Salem at The Empty Bottle

No one said they weren’t weird.

Despite the swirling slow-motion journey through Salem’s King Night LP, that should have informed audiences of what one might expect from the live Salem experience, the word of Salem’s lethargic stage presence preceded their homecoming show last week at The Empty Bottle.  Regardless of the criticism, the group delivered on expectations only slightly weighed down by tepid critical commentary.

Salem sucks up influences like Miami bass, Houston Screw, shogaze, and Chicago juke like a club kid slupring Robotussin up a silly straw.  The sound creates a live output that is a moody, darkly sexy trudge through an opium den with an industrial fog machine.  Trance-inducing neon bursts set the mood as haunting stage silhouettes tinkered above unidentifiable instruments. The ghostly vocals of Heather Marlatt carried over a wash of synths and samples as the measured stage show proceeded with macabre flair and an undeniable prurient swagger — out-smoldering an ethereal Portishead performance.

What trumps all, despite their undynamic presence, is Salem’s mood-setting atmospherics and impressive ear for melody. Exemplified in their closer, a delicious trudge through Alice Dee-Jay’s “Better Off Alone”, is that warped beneath their witchy ways is a highly melodic, slinky bounce that, while not ready-made for club banging, is a powerfully emotive and entrancing aural trip.

Check out Matt’s original review of Salem’s King Night LP here

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