The Veils are currently on tour promoting their new album Total Depravity, and they hit up the infamous Roxy on the Sunset Strip last Monday. It couldn’t have been a better time to see them, as the album is all about sin and depression and the unfortunate ways that some people in modern day society live their lives (check out the video for Low Lays the Devil). Finessed by the exceptional production work of El-P (Run the Jewels), their 5th studio album marks its territory as being the most polished since the fav of many fans, Nux Vomica. Fin laughs at the reactions he’s gotten on the heavily-played radio tune Axolotl-
“I find it hilarious when people ask ‘what’s going on?’ It’s funny, the idea of this evangelical preacher turning into a mexican salamander...what’s not to love about that? Also, my mom had an axolotl growing up.”
It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s industrial...by far their most experimental album yet and it’s been getting consistent thumbs up from the critics. It was recorded in multiple locations: Estúdios Sá da Bandeira in Portugal, Konk Studios in London, Casa Lynch in Los Angeles, and El-P’s studio in Upstate New York...it’s no wonder the album has such an intense depth to it. Saccharine vocals are frontman Fin Andrew’s specialty, yet he always seems to nail them in a unique and genuine way.
Opening for the Veils was the cooky and fun-filled Anthonie Tonnon from Auckland, New Zealand. His music is poppy and danceable, I really enjoyed his energy...though it was a bit of an interesting choice for an opener for a band like the Veils. Nevertheless the crowd was pretty pumped about his onstage antics, and his obvious Bowie with a hint of Morrissey influence was appropriate for a venue like the Roxy. Anthonie was recently named in Billboard’s list of ‘New Zealand acts you need to know about.’
The bassist was a super badass and had her hair falling in her face for almost the entire set, giving her the look you always want in that sparkling enigma. Next was the fire-breathing Axolotl, an obvious crowd pleaser and my favorite lyrics off the album, ‘Now Sister Maggie's coming in fleetfoot... Baby's got a belly full of black soot...I've got the feeling I'd better just stay put Ah she'll love you better than any real man could...’ it just sent chills down my spine. Fin is the lonesome cowboy you see on the side of the road and when he tilts his hat to you, you catch a gleam in his eye that borders on a sort of blackhearted madman but you never want to believe it to be true.
Low Lays the Devil is a bluesy tune with killer drums. Next was Swimming with the Crocodiles, which Fin attributes to his obsession with doodling hundreds of the little creatures over the years. This tune is more on the even-keeled side of things, with a simple melody and can be categorized as sort of a bittersweet love song, with the lyrics ‘you're all I've ever wanted...and there's no remedy...I feel you when there's no one else around...hold me like a child, you swollen crocodiles...’ .
The crowd roared as the notes for Nux Vomica started to play, the cinematic tune puts you in that dreary western movie where you feel you could dissipate in a vast pool of nothingness with one single look from the cowboy you came to forget. It’s a hard-hitting favorite among devout Veils fans and when the crowd sings the lyrics back to the band you can feel their energy transferring into that soft sacred space that inhabits both audience and musician, where everyone knows it goes but no one really talks about.
Fin introduced the next song House of Spirits as “Sort of different, maybe I’ve lived in the same place for too long...” He’s lived in the same flat in London since he was 16. Fin’s delicate and lovely British-meets-Aussie accent has a way of warming you up like a cozy blanket...you want them to go on for just a little longer, like a lullaby.
The band then sends us into a little frenzied story time about a truck driver who has probably gone a bit insane with King of Crome. The band played 4 or 5 encore songs, including Lavinia (Fin was solo onstage with his acoustic), Calliope! and Jesus for the Jugular. Fin talked of missing the sea before a sax and trumpet player joined the band onstage for a couple tunes, sending us off with yet another stellar performance by The Veils. Safe to say we all left the venue with our blood pumping.
The Veils at the Roxy, Los Angeles (07 November 2016)