First gig of the season -for your servant- yesterday evening and even more than expected, this killed everything !!! Stoned Gatherings proposed again a very consistent line-up for Stoner/Doom addicts (from Paris mainly but some people made hundred kms for the masters of Texas riffage' 1st venue in France) and it's about 200 people who have attended a rich and pretty memorable gig.
I can just regret not to have given a more attentive ear to WITCH MOUNTAIN before their excellent set, but gigs are also made for this : discover more in depth and be seduced by awesome bands who open for your longly loved headliner... Uta Plotkin is assuredly one of the most complete and original female vocalist within the actual scene and believe me, this opinion can only be reinforced after you see the band on stage !
She's incredibly bewitching and has definitely a unique tone, could it be in the expansive way of a slow, bluesy and majestic song like "Never Know" or in the more traditional heavy and grimmy Metallic manner like in another highlight of the gig that was "Veil of the Forgotten" ! As I already deplored it, female vocals are often too weak on stage in front of loud and fuzzy volumes but with Uta this is absolutely not the case, she dominates her subject and her physical presence adds certainly to make the performance even more captivating than on album which is remarkable.
Rob Wrong's riffage is relentless and crushing; serene most of the time, the guy gloats amazingly during his swinging solos and seems at his peak, just like the whole band who alternates moods with lots of fluency and soul... A very very good surprise which definitely converted me as an attentive fan of the band now. Too bad I couldn't take any correct picture of them, being far too much in the back of this small venue !
Time for some bubbles and it's with great pleasure and honour that I share some fresh drinks with Kent Stump, Ewen Padovan from Totem Cat Rds and an american guy from San Fransisco who follows WO FAT during the tour, labeled by the fan as their biggest fan - which is certainly deserved judging by his enthusiasm proportional to the distance accomplished !!!
I hardly succeeded to find a closer place for the 2nd band COUGH, but sufficiently to take a couple of pictures this time... I'm not a huge fan of those type of crawling and monolithic sounds on LIVE conditions, especially in small venues like this - where the most intense and punishing parts can quickly lead me to relative trouble... The ritualistic and punishing textures are impressive; damn this is so crushing, is that the horrific tortured vocals of Parker Chandler or the hammering drums who produce secondary effects on me ? did I become a wimp ? hahaha ! I feel like some alien beast pervade my stomach, fortunately David Cisco knows how to introduce more distinctive and melodic parts and I resist longer than I did with Conan at last year's Roadburn (not the whole gig though), but definitely I prefer this type of stuff much more on album with headphones, it's then much deeper and incantatory... I will experience COUGH willingly again though - next week at HDDT in a bigger venue !
They could have choose a fair number of others, but what could have been better than "The Black Code" to start the gig ?! Awesome from the first notes, the sound is HUGE, incredibly dense and heavy, just Kent's vocals are too much in back at the beginning and in several brief instants but the band perfectly retranscribe the nebulous and spacey moods of the album with a special touch à la "Noche del Chupacabra" brought by the moist atmosphere and the sparing use of lights.
"Lost Highway" make things degenerating in the first ranks, furiously headbanging and sweating ! The crowd is incredibly boosted by such energy and each song make the temperature increase, the cauldron is boiling and we could drink of their soup all night along... Everybody seems to float, including our blazing trio, still concentrated though and relentlessly they carry on with "Hurt at Gone", "Enter the Riffian" and the more than ever aptly named "Descent Into the Maelstrom". Of course when you discuss with them after the gig, they will humbly regret a few impairs but everybody will just remember that this band is one of the most transcended on stage you could ever imagine... Despite a style that could let place to improvisation and redundancy, Kent is faithful to his original interpretation, just fuckin' heavier !!!
Tim and Michael form more than a simple rythmic complement to the master's riff machinery, introducing their own creative touch in subtle twists and turns, Tim's rumbling bass-lines are delightfully psych-infused and Michael's brings often a gnarly touch to his surgical hit... They are just 3 but so cohesive and dense that you never think a second about a need of a 2nd guitar for live considerations.
"Sleep of the Black Lotus" and his 10 minutes of high-flying fuzzy groove could have logically been the programmed highlight of the evening but each song was a definitive HIGHLIGHT, like a perpetual état de grace and there's even been an unexpected ice on the cake with "Nameless Cults" unreleased song soon to be released via a promising split 12'' with Egypt on Totem Cat rds.
Time to leave after a last collective picture with Witch Mountain and Wo Fat members (my camera battery was off but I'm sure I'll get it sent by Kent or Tim !)... and I can't help but remembering about that review of Broken Beard on The Black Code which concluded like this : « the truth about Kyuss Lives! is that they caught wind of The Back Code and decided that continuing with the reunion was completely pointless » ...
I've seen KYUSS in their golden days (1993) and have been marked during two decades, that was my most striking live reference within the Stoner genre, until yesterday evening :)
WO FAT have offered yesterday the most stunning MASS OF FUZZ I've ever had the luck to attend and I can humbly say there's been quite many on the list; something so crushing, grooving and infectious at the same time, brrrr.... simply memorable !