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Concert Review:In the midst of a pandemic, Blackwater Holylight dazzles the crowd in Highland Park.

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Just as everything around the country began to shut down on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the 5-piece band played a remarkable set at the Lodge Room. Unbeknownst to most people in the crowd, it ends up being one of the final shows to be seen in Southern California, for the time being.


If you've never heard of the band, you've most likely been living under a rock or on the moon. Bassist-vocalist Allison "Sunny" Faris, guitarists Laura Hopkins and Mikayla Mayhew, drummer Eliese Dorsay and synth player Sarah McKenna have collectively been making waves throughout the music world as Blackwater Holylight since 2018. Giving out some heavy Black Sabbath vibes mixed with a little bit of Warpaint, the group blends a mixture of ominous and wavy tones together that'll rattle your whole existence.

Hailing from Portland Oregon, the band came out with a bang with the release of their self-titled LP on RidingEasy Records. Soon after they became recognized as one of the heaviest bands from the area, organically building a huge fan base. However, it wasn't something the band aimed for from the beginning.

Before the band graced the stage of the Lodge Room, I sat down with guitarist Laura Hopkins to discuss life in a band and other topics.

All five members are into completely different types of music genres, "it ends up as this

cluster-fuck of great sounds" says Laura. "It happened just by getting louder and expressing what we were going through. All of our songs are based on our personal experiences. It was never my intention to be a heavy band, but it became that way."

Their quick rise to notoriety has allowed them to travel abroad and play festivals such as LA's Psycho Smokeout, Desertfest in Berlin, Levitation in Austin and Desert Daze. Playing Desert Daze for the first time was definitely a "surreal experience" for the band. Sean Lennon of The Lennon Claypool Delirium discovered them during the festival and walked away with a new favorite band.

Hopkins speaks more on the experience — "that festival was so much fun. It was so cool to see Wu-Tang, The Black Angels and Animal Collective. Parts of my life all came together and we got to be a part of that." A lineup that also included the likes of Devo, Viagra Boys, The Flaming Lips and so many more, it was almost unbelievable. The guitarist also mentioned how cool it was to "go run in the lake and go swimming."It doesn't get any better than that.

2019 also saw the band release their second record through RidingEasy Records titled Veils of Winter. It was widely acclaimed by many and regarded as one of the best releases of the year. The fun didn't stop there. The group also released the short-horror themed music video for their song "Sunrise", which was filmed by Mt. Hood and at their favorite local bar in Portland called 'Sandy Hut'.

It is truly is a psychedelic roller coaster. The horror elements are just the icing on the cake. According to Laura, "Our friend Claude from Oakland directed it. It was his idea really. He's into slasher flicks and makes short films. We went out to the snow on Valentine's Day and he told us all what to do."

If you've never seen the video, it's basically Laura Hopkins going around and killing off the rest of the band members one by one in sinister fashion. "Claude pointed at me and said I was going to kill everyone" Laura laughs. "It was a real fun experience because we were all laughing the whole time."

As far as 2020, the band embarked on their first headlining tour.