May 26 2023


21+ | 7pm doors, 8pm show
with Midwestern Dirt, Jim The Kid
Singer-songwriter Gabe Larson is the artistic gravity behind Waldemar, a heartland indie rock band (think The War on Drugs and The National with a dash of Willie Nelson), based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Waldemar combines soaring vocals and poignant, confessional lyrics against a dense backdrop of sweeping guitar tapestries and synth textures to deliver a sonic freight train of an album. The new record Ruthless is a journeyman musician’s fixation, the renegade harmonies of a blue-collar poet.
Written and recorded over a span of five years, Ruthless is an act of remarkable patience and commitment. For two of those years, Larson spent every moment outside of his job sanding floors, painstakingly transforming a weathered, century-old horse barn on his property into a professional recording studio with his brother and bandmate Nick Larson. The studio is hidden in plain sight, nestled along an alley in Eau Claire’s North Side Hill, blocks away from the old Uniroyal tire factory. The setting is incredibly generative and inspiring. Across the street is an elementary school, complete with the sounds of laughing children at play, and in the industrial buildings nearby, hundreds of laborers maintain the neighborhood’s workaday heritage.
Ruthless is the relentless vision of a musician perfecting a sound, the cascades of guitars, synths and vocals washing over a listener like rivers polishing stone, like grit on grains of wood. But the album also represents a different generative experience: the recent birth of Larson’s daughter, Ruth. In this, the album is a poetic dovetailing of a craftsman musician honing his trade, and his young family begetting new life. In a Midwestern setting that gave rise to so many other American dreams, Ruthless is a testament to the power of struggle, that we are made by what we make.