Whether it was intentional or not isn’t necessarily clear, but the last day of the fest ended up being the most femme-charged of the whole shebang. Nearly every band between Neumos and Barboza had a non-male presence in it, starting with the very first band up Shrine of the Serpent. As “Toxic” by Britney Spears was fading out, Shrine of the Serpent’s slowly brewing guitar riffs barreled on before the hefty growls of the vocalist took over. It was a stark contrast from the shrieks coming from Mollie Piatetsky from Iowa’s Closet Witch, who played next. The foursome is seemingly unassuming at first glance — collectively sweet smiles and fluffy blonde hair detract from the sheer gritty grindcore they produce. Every forceful note was complemented by Piatetsky’s rousing movements and shrill screams. Based on crowd response, they had one of the better performances of the whole fest, even with it being the shortest. Their tracks are like short bursts of pit-worthy hostility and no one could get enough.
It was the same for the crusty grindpunk of Cloud Rat, but the hard-hitting undertones of their sounds may have had too strong of an effect. A pretty large pit ended up forming toward the middle of their set. Understandable, but what happened afterward put somewhat of a damper on the rest of their performance. A dude was moshing in the pit and ended up getting shoved into someone along the frontlines of the stage. That person, apparently very upset with being crashed into, grabbed this person by the throat and body slammed onto the ground, where he laid unresponsive for minutes. It took a little while for Cloud Rat to notice what was happening and when they eventually paused their playing, the whole venue’s eyes hovered around the situation. He was carried out and they continued playing, but it definitely stayed the forefront of many people’s minds as they gazed on.
After that situation, it was nice to have a different type of air be present in the room. That was thanks to Dorthia Cottrell, lead singer of Windhand, who switched up the mood entirely by doing a solo, acoustic set. “I’m gonna play some sad songs for you that going to make you sleepy,” she said as she started strumming the intro notes to “Cemetery Song.” Cottrell sat alone off-center stage, white lights spotlighting her amid the stage’s shadows. The beautiful rasp of her voice garnered applause as she went through her songs “Kneeler” and “Sparrow.” Upon her last song, she offered an anecdote about her trip to Terror Fest, and how she found out about Roky Erickson’s passing while on her Seattle-bound flight. Because of that, she ended her set with a cover of his song “Goodbye Sweet Dreams.” It was nearly impossible not to get emotional.
Yet, that emotion turned right back into aggression for nearly everyone once Pig Destroyer took the stage. The overall energy in the room made it seem like they all were simply just waiting for them to play, and it was the most packed Neumos had been over the course of the three days. Things took a turn for the fairly insane as strong shoving, moshing and swinging started happening almost immediately after “Tunnel Under the Tracks” and “Dark Train.” Random beach balls and inflatable pool toys were being thrown in every direction, including on stage. “Can someone throw me some drugs instead of beach balls? I’m not picky,” vocalist J.R. Hayes said with a grin. They played predominantly from Prowler in the Yard, though they did throw in a couple from Head Cage. Pig Destroyer literally destroyed over 20 songs and the crowd still pleaded for more, and they gave us two more.
Even with the powerhouse of Pig Destroyer, the fact that the festival was nearing a close still loomed over the rest of the night. As the business of a typical Saturday night on Capitol Hill bustled on around us, the last left standing headed over to the Highline for the last time. Amongst the clouds of cigarette smoke and tipsy murmurs, the stairs leading up to the venue were lined with metal-dazed souls. Bongripper, the very last band of the fest, was reviving. Everyone crammed as close to the stage as possible, like tightly packed sardines who happen to don all black and patched up vests. Weed was aplenty as was the booze, and Bongripper played the whole thing out in a stoner doom glory.
As everything finished up, some in the crowd wondered what next year’s Northwest Terror Fest will be like. Hopefully, it’ll be just as brutal as it was this time around.
Photo Credit: Ekaterina Gorbacheva