notes from the coast: Dax Riggs. The Satellite. 08.03.12

Dark, sweet, haunting, beautiful. These are words you wouldn’t expect to describe the vocals from a band called Acid Bath, but if those vocals came from a man named Dax Riggs (and they do) then these descriptions would not even come close to doing his amazing voice justice.  His dark, gothic lyrics combined with his soaring and soulful delivery really give a depth and emotion to his songs that really put him in a class all his own. When I first heard his voice, it had the same impact on me as when I first heard Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Pure power and emotion that just struck a dark nerve deep in my soul.  And Friday night at The Satellite, I got to hear his voice in all it’s elegant glory.

If you’ve never heard of Dax Riggs, I’ll give a little background. He cut his teeth with NOLA sludge legends Acid Bath in the mid 90’s. They were revered more for their melodic, bluesy approach to sludge when compared to peers such as Crowbar, Eyehategod, Soilent Green and others. And it was Dax’s voice that really separated their sound from the rest. They would only deliver 2 official albums before dissolving, but Dax would go on to hone his unique sound with great bands like Agents of Oblivion and Deadboy and the Elephantmen before setting out on his own and creating some of his best (and my favorite) work of his career.  His sound and style is much bluesier and far less abrasive than Acid Bath, and if you haven’t heard his brilliant solo albums We Sing of Only Blood or Love and Say Goodnight to the World, then you really are missing out on something special.

The first part of his set was an acoustic performance with just him and Kevin Fitzsimmons on additional guitar.  They played an array of acoustic versions of some of his solo songs, which gave everyone a chance to hear his crystal clear vocals soar. I don’t know what it is exactly that draws me to his singing, but it just resonates with me.  Whether it be the dark yet beautiful atmosphere his music creates, the goth style lyrics, the soulful delivery or the way it all comes together, but I just get mesmerized by his music.  After giving the crowd a good dose of melancholy and beauty, it was time to get dirty.  Soon the two were joined by drummer Charlie Siess and the set got a swift kick into high gear as they grabbed the electric guitar and bass and cranked out “Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain”, getting the already enthusiastic crowd even more riled up.  They played mostly classic tracks off his two solo albums.  Songs like “Wall of Death” and “Let me be Your Cigarette” got the crowd moving and dancing, while other favorites like “Gravedirt on my Blue Suede Shoes” and “Say Goodnight to the World” got everyone raising their drinks in celebration.  The band sounded fantastic, Dax’s voice was epic and it was a very very good night to enjoy some dark blues.

Dax Riggs solo work is far from heavy in a metal sense, but if you love soulful blues with a dark, gothic bent, or simply enjoy musicians who really put their heart and soul into their music and really reach out and make you feel what they feel, then you must pick up some of his work or better yet, go check him out live.  I don’t usually gush about solo artists like I do Dax, but he really is someone I implore you to check out.  He’s the real deal and deserves to be heard.  I hear rumors of an Acid Bath reunion, and while that’s something I would love to see, a new album of solo stuff would be even better.  Hopefully the world will get both soon….