Cold Cave, an emerging dark wave act, played a short set that included songs, “Love Comes Close” and “Youth And Lust” at The Knockout in the Mission district Monday Sept. 7. Caralee McElroy who left Oakland band Xui Xui in May and mouth piece Wesley Eisold of now defunct hard-core project Give Up The Ghost, are unlikely composers of rusty axe-cut synth glitter that explodes on summer LP “Love Comes Close.” Explained by McElroy, the band’s title is a reference to the frigid experience of writing music in a Philadelphia apartment during winter months.
The Joy Division nostalgia flag soared high in the tight space where the only light is a faint red and the soles of your shoes stick to the congealed whisky. Every other head was armored in colorless Bauhaus or Alien Sex Fiend t-shirts. Standing in between an androgynous girl wearing a “Substance” Joy Division tee and a sickly looking youth wearing a “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Joy Division cut-off, I was the hot blush felt by teens showing up at the prom wearing the same dress. I was the bent metal and clumping smoke of two ambulances melded together with the marriage of a head on collision. Whispers in the pre-opening song darkness begged the answer of who would accompany Eisold and McElroy onstage.
A grumpy brunette surfaced to sound check a classic Fender Jaguar. Returning a moment later, Sarah Lipstate, the newest addition to Cold Cave ornamented “Cebe and Me” and “Love Comes Close” providing contrasted thick treble to Wes Eisold’s haunted throat. The group played in a naked structure by placing all instruments and members in a straight line with equal distance from the crowd. I scanned the lineage for a playback machine or a Macintosh laptop and found none.
Brought on by friend McElroy, Sarah Lipstate has been touring with Cold Cave this summer playing guitar and keyboard. After the set I tried to make sense of her laughter — the response given to qualifying Cold Cave in terms of genre. Attempting to recover from the piercing non-answer I asked about the pressures of being compared to Joy Division but recoiled into my own hot cheeks wishing I could retract my daft officiousness. “Let’s back up,” I tell myself. “Is there a future for dance and rock music, together I mean?” “Of course!” A smile is drawn and she folds her arms and leans back with animated assurance.
New York wonder band Parts and Labor released a 51-track, 29- minute album called “Receivers” with Lipstate before she left in July of 2009. Even further from two-stepping though comes Noveller, Lipstate’s Brooklyn birthed side project that involves the torturing of a double-neck SG with a violin bow and various foot pedals. Sarah is currently writing new tracks with Cold Cave as the group returns to the east coast this fall to play in Brooklyn and Boston with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Junior.