I arrived in a timely manner to the Théâtre Fairmount on Friday night, assuming I would settle into a seat close to the side of the stage and prepare for the night’s séance. To my surprise, the room was already crowded, few seats were even left, and the excitement was palpable. The merch tables were a fitting representation of the type of show we were in store for, with all black shirts strung up on the walls, depicting Wiccan and cultish imagery. I slithered into a spot on the floor near the back of the room to await All Them Witches and their fantastic opening line up.
Mountain Dust (Montreal, QC) cast the first spell, playing a set that was half of their debut album Nine Years and half new material (they will be recording their second album this coming January). Their blues-infused, stoner-rock jams with the incorporation of keyboards sounded like a heavy metal version of The Doors. Singer and guitarist Brendan Mainville delivered his vocals with the passionate sensibility of a man who’s lived a thousand lives. Mountain Dust wasted little time with pleasantries between songs, only a moment to thank the other bands, as they proceeded to pound on their instruments through a blistering opening set, which had moments of country twang, metal ferocity, and rock-and-roll swagger all mixed into the pot. I am wholeheartedly intrigued as to what the next release will have in store.
King Buffalo (Rochester, NY) rendered the crowd into a trance with their elongated, psychedelic jams off of their debut full-length album Orion. My first impression was that lead singer and guitarist Sean McVay sounded uncannily like Josh Homme, the lead singer and guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age. But in essence, their music is much more in line with bands like Fu Manchu or Corrosion of Conformity, stoner bands that go for that dirtier brand of guitar sound. Like Mountain Dust, King Buffalo were very businesslike throughout their set. Saying very little between their prodigious stoner anthems, they let their instruments do all the talking, and the crowd, without question, had no problem with this.
All Them Witches (Nashville, TN), touring off their fourth record Sleeping Through the War, opened with “Am I Going Up?” from said album. I don’t think you can have an acid trip from hearing music, but if it were possible, this would be the song that gets you there. Guitarist Ben McLeod laced into a steady, repetitive vamp as drummer Robby Staebler dragged out the rhythm in a dreamlike lull. Singer and bassist Charles Michael Parks Jr. delivered his vocals as if he were hypnotized, “Am I going up? Am I going down? Am I going nowhere? I don’t wanna wait too long, while I’m buried in the ground.” “The Death of Coyote Woman,” “3-5-7” and “Alabaster” followed as All Them Witches made it clear that they were going to be focusing this set mainly on the latest album.
The band ran into some technical difficulties around the middle of the set, and Parks Jr. remarked, “It wouldn’t be an All Them Witches show without some.” (After a little digging on the internet I can confirm that they do indeed experience quite a number of technical difficulties). I think it’s only because the band has some high standards as far as how well they sound on stage because I felt they sounded fantastic all night. I can’t remember if the most aesthetically pleasing moment of the night was during “Mountain” or “Guess I’ll Go Live On The Internet,” but it was right towards the end of the set. Somebody brought a beach ball and it started to make its way around the audience. As members of the audience swayed to the music, absolutely transfixed on the magic happening on stage, the beach ball would nonchalantly strike them and wake them from their reverie. After a moment of ponderous confusion they would launch the ball towards another unsuspecting crowd member and the process would repeat. As I headed home, the image remained implanted in my mind and served as a reminder as to how truly captivated the audience was that night.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson