widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I] is out now on Okami Records
If you’re yet to see Crywolf (aka Justin Taylor Phillips) in concert, consider it one of your newest bucket list entries. Earlier this month, the LA-based artist stopped at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C. in support of his newest album, widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I], and it’s a show we won’t soon forget.
The end of a ten-second countdown cut the lights in one of D.C.’s darkest basements. Before we knew it, Crywolf was on stage delivering his haunting album opener, “ATHETOSIS [here’s the lullaby you made me promise never to write].” The mysterious piano carried us through the beginning of a track that would eventually send us through a cataclysmic tornado of emotion and sound. It’s our first glimpse into Phillips’ psyche as he delivers an album birthed from a period of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.
In the midst of creating his latest album, Crywolf was forced to take a massive pause after getting an entire album’s worth of music and thousands of dollars in gear stolen while abroad in Chile. As widow’s “Fallout [antagonïzer]” began to play, it became insurmountably clear Justin is still recovering from and shedding the darkness that weighed on him during a self-proclaimed “quarter-life crisis” and the trials and tribulations that led to widow’s creation.
Between the small piano and drum kit that lined the stage’s sides, Crywolf danced harder than ever, flinging himself to either end, never missing a beat, and working up the crowd into a bubbling frenzy before dropping “Anachronism” and “Slow Burn” from his 2015 debut album, Cataclasm. The sudden album shift was welcomed with electrifying cheers from Justin’s biggest supporters but also proved to those new to Crywolf that his talent for expressing complex, beautiful, and emotive electronica has only gotten stronger over the years.
The multi-instrumentalist wouldn’t just stop there. After playing two major highlights from his debut album, Phillips would once again shift the tides of the show. “Act Two: A Shattering in F# Minor” followed and is void of everything we’ve heard at this point, opting for echoing Gregorian chants before creeping into “[a sunken place],” an interlude from widow. Our sonic descent continued until reaching “CEPHALOTUS” — a brooding and menacing track that references the mythology of selling your soul. “I’m growing up and dying every minute you exist” he warns throughout the track’s three minutes.
Widow’s “[as it is, infinite]” interlude followed, indicating the show was quickly building to another major climax — Crywolf performing his incredible new single, “DRIP.” Filled with emotion, the crowd eagerly sang every word to one of this year’s most underrated tracks. Inspired by the throttling energy and with guitar in-hand, Crywolf joined the crowd for his performance of “Rising Rising,” a moment no one in attendance will ever forget.
After playing “Akureyri,” Justin surprised all by dropping “Halloween, 1987” from his 2015 EP, Dysphoria. “Act Three: Looming,” “QUIXOTE [i am alone, and they are everyone],” and “[when you inhale, i fill your lungs]” led to another personal favorite, “Quantum Immortality” from Justin’s 2017 EP, Skeletons. As the night ended, we got a cover of the infamous “Forever Young” by Alphaville, as well as a three-song closer to a night we wish we could relive.
In support of widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I], Crywolf will be heading back on the road in May with a set of shows confirmed in Denver, Dallas, and Los Angeles. If they’re somehow not sold-out, snag tickets here and stream Crywolf’s latest album.