Inside the King Woman/ Mother Room/ Foie Gras Tour

I was pretty psyched to be asked to tag along on the King Woman // Mother Room // Foie Gras tour as a documentarian.  Combining my deep rooted need and love for live music with the incessant urge to constantly travel is an offer I could not pass up. These sorts of blessed adventures seem to awaken a certain kind of vigor I can seldom reach when grounded.

Kristina Esfandiari performing as King Woman (formerly of Whir, also of the solo project Miserable). 

I truly can't express in words the sensation of pure magic permeating so many moments of this trip. The aroma of transformation was so vivid I could feel it like a rash.

From Left to Right: Colin Gallagher (King Woman), Joey Raygoza (King Woman), Charles Vincent (American Scene), Iphigenia Gras (Foie Gras), Kristina Esfandiari, James Mueiners (Mother Room), Sky Madden (King Woman, Chasms).

King Woman are a group of the kindest and subtly wild people I have ever met.  The energy and tension between them made me homesick for my brothers as it was so distinctly that of a bonded unit. Their heavy foundation and deep lyrics carried me into a state that I often felt I couldn't have willingly stepped out of if I wanted to- not that I ever did.

King Woman performing live at the Witch Room in Sacramento, CA June 2014.

King Woman in Chico, CA outside Orange St Studio. Joey (percussion), Kristina (vocals), Sky (bass) and Colin (guitar).

Foie Gras, the solo project of Iphigenia Gras, is as strange, raw and positively individualistic as the woman herself.  I felt as the days went on that she slowly morphed into a Phoenix that just flew away gracefully on the last sleepy morning in San Francisco.

Iphi (Foie Gras) debuted material with her transportive performance about inter-dependent darkness and social decadence during the 8 day tour leg. People sat entranced around her on various dirty floors of California.

Mother Room is so intense that I often feared there was the possibility of losing my skin if I stood too close. Watching James made me feel like I was reading his journal without asking while being excitedly burned alive.

James Muelners is Mother Room. La Puente, CA.

The savagery of a man undone. Mother Room at The Dial (run by post-shoegaze pioneers Crisis Arm) in Murrieta, CA. 

I leave this experience stronger, wiser and fuller.  I cherish the inspiring work of these artists and the time I have spent with them. I honor Lady Fortune for smiling down upon us when life felt unbearable for all of us - as it did - at our own unique moments, relative to the madness.  

King Woman, Mother Room and Foie Gras pictured with Thom Wasluck of Planning For Burial outside of Bridgeton DIY, La Puente, CA. Thom's momentary presence reinvigorated the group's energy. The Planning For Burial performance imparted a contagion of spirited solidarity. 

Charles Vincent (left) plays drums in American Scene. Charles drove 1,100 miles in 8 days guiding the bands safely from city to city. Charles and myself instinctually shared the combined effort of maintaining sanity in the van.  I went on this tour to document but organically became spiritually intertwined with the souls of each person.

I will carry this experience with me wrapped in fondness and gratitude always.

Sky Madden (pictured above) at dawn during the last leg of the tour, four hours south of San Francisco. The claustrophobic conditions of tour can breed unexpected and unbridled bonds that manifest themselves in unimaginable ways.  Surface selves become transparent. Through unescapable closeness, opacity crumbles and reveals all underlining desire.  

On June 22nd King Woman, Foie Gras and Mother Room played Orange Street Studios in Chico with local dark folk project Bunnymilk. Orange Street Studios is run by Matt Shilts (of TEEPH), Laura Fettig, Indra and Brent Clark.

In addition to photographing the tour lightly, I recorded hours and hours of video footage and will be spending September editing the (K)Nights of Swords Tour Video. 

Chico, California

More here as it comes.  

Yours Devoted, MJ

Words and Photographs by MJ Bernier

Sky Madden also contributed to this post.

Thank you to Mikey and Sarah Lockhart of LCM,  Iphi's friends in Sacramento with the big white house with the cat room with Batman Forever and Almost Famous, Adrienne and Willy and their bathroom, everyone at Orange St Studios, Jess Labrador, the ladies in the Zumba class in La Puente, the pizza parlor and the Stripmall of Bridgetown DIY, Everyone at The Dial in Murrieta and the gas attendant in San Bruno who wouldn't let us pee without spending money and who lied to us about someone "being in there."   NO KEY!

AND A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO RICKY, R.I.P.