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  • Writer's pictureCase Cockrell

Kristin Hayter opens last Lingua Ignota expedition in Texas with a visceral 2-set journey

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

Lingua Ignota, real name Kristin Hayter, is a complicated case. Based in Pennsylvania, Hayter has been producing material under the Lingua Ignota name that tests the limits of one's emotions and sanity. Since Hayter has released various records under the Lingua Ignota name since 2017, the emotion and tension surrounding her music has grown to higher and higher levels. The concept of this chaos is likely exhibited to its most apocalyptic level with Hayter's 2019 album, Caligula, which showcased Hayter going in heavy with piano key ballads that feature tortured screams that will descend the listener into a fiery abyss of visceral self-reflection. When Hayter announced that the Lingua Ignota project would be making its way through Texas on its last outing, I planned an excursion to ensure I could finally witness the spectacle in person.

Before this tour's commencement, Hayter announced that this run of shows would be the last time she would tour under the Lingua Ignota moniker and perform the music written under this name. Her statement read, "I want to let you know in light of some (very cool) things that will be announced soon that I am retiring this catalog, this pain. This era is over for me. I will give my final performances of this music everything I have, and I look forward to the actual great pleasure of interpreting hymns for you." If any of the articles and news stories about Hayter's past experiences were any indication, fans of her music needed to witness her culminating outing as Lingua Ignota.

First things first. These aren't your typical concerts. Both of these shows felt like something eccentrically cordial. I met a friend at the Historic Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, to set the stage for this spectacle we were about to witness. The hotel had a Pre-Prohibition feel. Built in 1886, the hotel became a stop for craft cocktails and contained old furniture that set the candle-lit tone for the evening. The decor of the hotel bar contained artifacts that had to be at least a century old, setting the stage for the dark hymns that Lingua Ignota was about to serenade Austin with on this dark, cold, and rainy Thursday night.

Upon arriving at the Paramount Theatre in Downtown Austin, I knew that this was not the type of venue I had become used to in the live music capital city. Broadway-Esque theater decorations, beautiful stage decor, and theater seats made this concert feel like a massive production that sought to put you in a different mode. This was different from a noise rock show where the frequent mosh pit would break out with every single musical number of the night. When Lingua Ignota took the stage, she appeared onstage donning a rural villager outfit and a hat that concealed her lush blonde hair. Hayter played a series of dark traditional gospel songs to open the night, which entered the audience into the pitch-blackness of the two-set performance Hayter had promised before the tour's commencement. After 30 or so minutes of bone-crushing soul ballads, Hayter took to an intermission before resuming the night for a 60-minute onslaught of her original music.

When the intermission concluded, Hayter appeared onstage donning a beautiful green dress, with her iconic platinum-blonde hair in full effect. When the 2nd act began, Hayter opened the set with the new track Many Hands of her recent studio effort, Sinner Get Ready. The track could be seen as an overture that served as a precursor for the emotions that slowly became more and more unhinged as the set progressed. This opening number's slow build and increasingly ambient sounds made by Hayter simply throwing nuts and bolts into her piano to make the nerve-clenching, jangling chaos of the track readily apparent in the live setting.

Lingua Ignota continued her set with more tracks from Sinner Get Ready with the 9-minute sonically hellbent monster, The Order Of Spiritual Virgins. The operatically presented lyrics "Hide your children, hide your husbands" that spear their way through the track as it gets noisier and nosier to the point of near-exhaustion was a hypnotic experience that only drew the crowd into the void even further. Please note everyone stayed quiet for this performance, and not a peep was heard from the Paramount Theater crowd until each song's completion.

As the night progressed, Hayter did more and more performative concepts to enhance the performance, including engaging the tiki torch-looking lights that were posted all over the stage. Hayter's antics also included coming down into the theater's aisles as she sang. The fact that she brought the spectacle closer to the audience than it already was created a new level of intensity that likely hasn't been replicated in many contemporary settings. The visual art playing on the screen behind Hayter also served as an accessory that carried the story of each track, with footage from radical right-wing news sources and east coast rural areas where Hayter has been based the past couple of years. Ever since her conception as a musical artist, Hayter has expressed her utter disdain for the patriarchy, especially as it relates to politics, with these messages woven in and out of her music since she started releasing these songs under the Lingua Ignota moniker.

Perhaps one of the more spiritual numbers of the set came from the track I Who Bend The Tall Grasses. The organ-style chords of this track delivered an overall feeling that Hayter indeed came to a breaking point at some point over the past few years when this track was being penned for her recent studio release. The bone-chilling quote from the song that reads as "I have never loved him more than I do now. But I can't do it again," showcases Hayter wishing for some type of abuse to end but keeps feeling the horrific evergoing urge to keep going back despite the constant, apparent forms of abuse.

Getting closer to the end of the set, Hayter pulled out Caligula track If The Poison Won't Take You My Dogs Will. The track has Hayter discussing concepts of mercy from a biblical god before collapsing into a never-ending oblivion of operatic, distorted chaos that translated seamlessly into the live theater in the most cathartic ways. When you listen to Hayter's studio material, it takes seeing to believe how massively she executes such intense sounds when Lingua Ignota only tours as Hayter is the sole performer for her tours throughout her existence as the moniker of Lingua Ignota.

Hayter performed the lead single off Sinner Get Ready, Pennsylvania Furnace, to close her set. This track initially got on my radar because I was anxiously waiting for Hayter to release more music after my obsessive fandom materialized after the release of Caligula. Pennsylvania Furnace saw Hayter with the forested backdrop of her home in rural Pennsylvania with flashes of protests and other miscellaneous videos of civil unrest flashed across the screen behind the stage as the track progressed to its end.

When Hayter returned to the stage for the encore, she sent the audience off with a riveting performance of Dolly Parton's timeless classic, Jolene. This is likely when the crowd was at its loudest, appropriately so. The crowd erupted in applause after Hayter concluded the track, putting a seal on what was already a mesmerizing evening.

Lingua Ignota is an extreme case; her music isn't for the faint of heart. With these jaw-dropping performances, it isn't a surprise that Hayter doesn't want to be reenacting her life's tragedies night after night by performing these tracks for an audience. Hayter is an artist whose discography is full of gems, and having them out in the music sphere hopefully won't go forgotten when Hayter steps away from this moniker. Catch Lingua Ignota while you still can; it's a worthwhile expenditure that boggles the mind into the corners of our existential status.

Listen to Lingua Ignota:

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