While on a short string of shows together, Marissa Nadler and Drab Majesty stopped by The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA on October 19th. The unlikely location proved to be a pleasant venue to experience both artists up close.
When Drab Majesty took the stage, the entire ambiance of the room changed in a heartbeat. The duo, fronted by the extraterrestrial identity known as Deb Demure, along with his partner Mona and trusty Apollo statue, lured the crowd into a fantasy world from a Lynch-meets-Jodorowsky-meets-Ridley Scott scene. Drab Majesty has a taste for theatrics as they conquer the stage in lavish royal garb and sinister cult-like makeup. Deb stares intensely at the crowd and proceeds to march along the stage with an umbrella, meanwhile Mona begins a haunting synth landscape to set the stage for what is to come. Deb grabs hold of Apollo, resting on a silk-covered table, and sets him into a spinning continuous rotation. It’s as hypnotizing of an opening as you can get.
The dark blue lights and fog machine intensifies as Deb picks up his deep red guitar and starts the set. The duo performed 5 songs, intermixed with a myriad of bizarre sounds to transition between compositions. Their songs blend the noise and effects of 90’s shoegaze, adds on the catchy and dreamy sensibilities of 80’s synthpop, and wraps it up with the dark undertones of the golden age of goth.
Marissa Nadler took the stage next. She was accompanied by much less of a theatrical setup than her predecessors, yet her angelic voice created enough of a presence. Nadler’s set was a collection of gloomy folk songs that spawn the darkest and brightest of feelings within the listener. At her side was Milky Burgess providing extra guitar and keyboards to the arrangements. And right in the front of the crowd was Deb, entranced by Nadler’s ghostly melodies, cheering after each song.
Nadler’s shy nature adds an intimate touch to the performance – the audience can’t help but listen closely and feel the attraction of her soothing charm. Nadler’s music brings to mind songwriting similar to the works of artists like Chelsea Wolfe and Hope Sandoval. Her performance even included an evocative rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude” (which appears on Sacred Bones Records’ compilation, Todo Muere Vol. 5).
Somehow on that night, Marissa Nadler and Drab Majesty succeeded in transporting the audience to another world, allowing them to forget their present location in Orange County. It’s a phenomenon that shows the true artistic ability of these acts, a feat that many strive to accomplish.
At the end of the show, I was able meet Drab Majesty at the merch table as they greeted the fans who experienced their spacey demonstration. After a brief conversation, I thank Deb for the performance. The response, in perfect Drab Majesty fashion: “It doesn’t come from us, it comes from up there.”