"$115.77," said the guy working the merch booth at the Moore on Wednesday night to a Sunn O))) and/or Earth fan. Another happy customer, no doubt.

As far as the eye could see, the line for those drone-metal bands' T-shirts, recordings, and posters snaked around the venue. As you tucked into your Thanksgiving dinner, there were punters likely still waiting in line to purchase goods from these groups with deep roots in Seattle's heavy-rock scene. It's safe to say there will never not be somebody with a credit card poised to obtain Sunn O))) and Earth's wares. And that is somehow comforting in an industry where musicians struggle to make fractions of pennies per stream and most are lucky to break even on tour. 

Sunn O))) performing at the Moore November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

But enough about economics. Folks swarmed to the 1,800-capacity Moore to gape in awe at the overwhelming power and mysterious majesty of Sunn O)))'s Shoshin (初心) Duo, consisting of former Seattle guitarists/current Southern Lord Records bosses Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson. Let's pause a moment to think about how unusual it is for music this uncompromising to be drawing such large numbers. This phenomenon speaks highly of our culture.

Before Sunn O))) took the stage, they blissed out the crowd with piped-in music from Alice Coltrane, including her collabs with Joe Henderson and Devadip Carlos Santana. A young girl dressed like an angel did cartwheels near the front row. Incense wafted. These wily mofos were softening us up for the slaughter.

Sunn O)))'s wall of amps at the Moore on November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

With a wall of amps that looked like a Guitar Center Stonehenge and 120 dB of downtuned feedback, Sunn O)))'s Shoshin (初心) Duo exploded into rude life. Their sound—consisting of the heaviest, sadomasochistic, sub-sub frequencies—vibrated every surface in the building and ruthlessly penetrated my earplugs. My ear canals itched for the entire 105-minute set.

Obscured by smoke and the sort of white light you allegedly see right before death, Sunn O))) (who were robed, for our pleasure), seemed as phantasmal as their sound was invasive. My cochleas have never grimaced so hard. I was sitting in Row G (force) for about 40 minutes, but moved to the balcony out of concern for my vital organs. This wasn't a concert; it was a simulacrum of World War IV.

Sunn O)))'s wall of amps at the Moore on November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

Sunn O))) heard Earth's earlier set (more of which later) and said, "Hold my battalion of subwoofers." Most showgoers endured the ordeal with impressive stoicism, but some moved to the lobby, for a vantage point of relative safety. I lost count of the patrons who left early, likely so they could vomit and void their bowels in peace. Whatever the reason for their departure, it was not an insubstantial number. As with previous Sunn O))) gigs at Neumos (2005) and the Showbox (2019), this was a war of attrition.

Ninety minutes in at the Moore, the volume somehow increased, the drones began to attenuate and the lights started to strobe with more intensity. Surely Sunn O))) were gearing up for the shattering climax? But no! For 15 more minutes, O'Malley and Anderson doled out extra-special frequencies for those who stayed till the end. And the woman in the balcony sleeping against the shoulder of her expressionless male partner missed it all...

Sunn O)))'s wall of amps at the Moore on November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

I'm not convinced that music with this little variation and this much merciless loudness merits nearly two hours of stage time. However, if Sunn O))) have taught us anything, it's that nothing succeeds like excess. 

Afterward, my friend James said Sunn O)))'s performance reminded him of My Bloody Valentine's extended noise apocalypses during their live renditions of "You Made Me Realise," but without the actual song part. He was not wrong.

Earth performing at the Moore November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

Preceding Sunn O))) were local ambient-metal heroes Earth, here to play their legendary sophomore LP, Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version, on its 30th anniversary. For this auspicious occasion, the band expanded to a quintet, with Adrienne Davies (drums/percussion), Bill Herzog (bass), Jonas Haskins (guitar), and Brett Netson (guitar) helping leader Dylan Carlson realize an unlikely dream—for Earth fans, if not for himself. Before they started, Carlson confessed, "Thirty years on, we didn't think we'd be doing it, but here we are." 

Earth performing at the Moore November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

With more instruments involved for this show, the monolithic mass of Earth 2 took on more interesting and dynamic characteristics. On "Seven Angels," Davies's robust mallet work on gong and toms and her booming kicks cut through the monstrous morass of growling guitars and snarling bass. The riffs still came off as chunky and truculent, but they sounded more defiant and triumphant. It's as if the band had tastefully colorized a classic black & white film. The addition of drums really enhanced the music's power and emphasized its warrior spirit. Sitting as far back in the first balcony as possible, I could still feel enveloped by Earth's cantankerous drones.

Before "Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine" took flight, Carlson and Netson turned pages of... sheet music?! True, the song scans heavy metal with an air of avant-classical grandeur, but it was still shocking to see. As Herzog slapped the base of his bass, huge blocks of stony chords drifted across the Moore like clouds of lead. Fifteen minutes into this glorious doom dirge that mimicked (if one may conjecture) woolly mammoth belches, I fell into a trance and forgot where I was and what I am, let alone who. Thanks for that, Earth.

Earth performing at the Moore November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

"Like Gold and Faceted" featured extended gong action by Davies and a pure, high-altitude drone that tabula rasa'd the room. Earth had compressed the influential album's 73 minutes into 48, but one nonetheless felt privileged to witness this spectacle in the flesh. 

Opening the night was singer/acoustic guitarist Jesse Sykes, accompanied by electric guitarist Phil Wandscher and bassist Bill Herzog (yes, Earth's guy). All played seated for their entire set of stark, eerie folk rock of elemental beauty. The hushed nature of Sykes's grave, glistening, and disciplined songs carried a "so wrong it's right" feel for the sonic brutality that followed. 

Jesse Sykes performing at the Moore November 22. Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

Sunn O)))'s Shoshin (初心) Duo setlist