"A doom take on trance by way of Radiohead." Chelsea Wolfe bewitches and delights with spellbinding set at Roadburn

Chelsea Wolfe brings her latest album She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She to life with a stunning main stage set at Roadburn Festival 2024

Chelsea Wolfe Live Roadburn 2024
(Image: © Peter Troest)

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When Roadburn Festival began 25 years ago, it was a haven for stoner and doom. In the 25 years since the festival’s programming has expanded to explore the outer reaches of alternative music, whilst still keeping a through line to its roots. Consider Chelsea Wolfe a bridge between those two worlds, then.  

Across her seven albums to date, Wolfe has dabbled in everything from folk to doom and dark electronica. It’s that chameleonic quality that shines through her set at Roadburn. Playing all of her latest record She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She across a sprawling 16-song set, Wolfe shows her mastery of atmos and darkness, drifting atop a sea of luscious melodies while weaving alluring siren songs that beckon listeners into the darkness lying just below the surface.

The pulsing electronica of opener Whispers In The Echo Chamber serve a handy reminder that Wolfe has broke away from the minimalism that characterised 2019's Birth Of Violence, this latest record feeling like a doom take on trance by way of Radiohead. It's a heady and bewitching mix, Wolfe's operatic vocals counteracted with elegiac pianos and bass so low it could be used to dig for oil, lending an otherwordly feel to the set as if any sudden movement might break the spell. 

One of Roadburn's greatest strengths as a festival is its capacity to craft technically spectacular live productions for each artist, affording underground acts levels of theatricality they seldom get to flex. Sure enough, Wolfe's show is a visual extravaganza, thick plumes of stage smoke and kaleidoscopic lighting displays enhacing the set, building to a transcendent moment during The Liminal where Wolfe strums an acoustic guitar as swirling smoke appears to cast her as a solitary figure emerging from an eldritch void. 

Although She Reaches Out... dominates the set, there's also room for welcome older cuts. Hiss Spun doom ditties 16 Psyche and The Culling connect back to Roadburn's Cathedral-booking roots, while House Of Metal's subtle symphonic swells invoke a grandeur that Wolfe has left largely unexplored on more recent releases. Closing on the beautifully fragile Be All Things, the set simultaneously feels like a spectacular showcase of Wolfe's strengths as a songwriter whilst also barely scratching the surface on her craft, testament to her genius and status as a true auteur, each new record inviting an entirely different interpretation of her artistry. 

She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She is out now via Loma Vista.

Chelsea Wolfe setlist Tilburg April 19 2024 (Roadburn Festival)

Whispers In The Echo Chamber
Everything Turns Blue
House Of Self-Undoing
Tunnel Lights
16 Psyche
The Culling
Feral Love
House Of Metal
Unseen World
Eyes Like Nightshade
Place In The Sun
The Liminal
Be All Things

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.