At the risk of repeating myself, I pulled up my Bucketlist review from last year’s All Them Witches show for some perspective; you can re live that one here. But I’m going to repeat myself anyways to talk about the latest show featuring All Them Witches with Possum – these guys sound fucking fantastic live! It doesn’t even matter that they have next to no stage presence, something I’d typically be critical of. They sound so fucking great that it matters not. This time around it was at L’Astral, my new favourite show hot spot, so I was right, fully amped!
Catching the opening act at an All Them Witches show means that you’re in for a trip. It’s like Toronto, Ontario’s Possum reached out, grabbed your metaphorical hand, and said, “Here, take the brown acid.” A hearty mix of psychedelia and garage rock had me feeling like I was in the ’60s. Anyone who’s been digging the King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard recently, and even Tame Impala to a degree, will be equally satisfied with Possum. There was little stage presence in their brief thirty minute set; the quartet did all their talking with their songs. “I Am The Tiger,” a pulsing, full-steam-ahead guitar onslaught that got our blood boiling and had the room in a fit of ecstasy. “Party Jam” (as its title suggests) was more of a feel-good, groovy romp. Tune in and drop out to their EP Electric Pickle.
Candles flickered on top of amplifiers, and a giant skull banner draped the back of the stage. All Them Witches had us feeling like we were at a séance, and in a way, we were. Opening with “Funeral For A Great Drunken Bird,” it was pretty clear the band was in “bash your face in with a sledgehammer” mode. That guitar tone and all those subtle nuances… I’m still having a hard time processing how three guys can make such an intricate racket! If I have one complaint about the sound, it’s that bassist Charles Michael Parks Jr.’s vocals were a tad too low. It was to the point where you couldn’t decipher what Parks Jr. was saying between songs. He’s not that much into big speeches, but he seemed to have a nice intro to “Fishbelly 86 Onions” that I didn’t totally catch. From what I gather I believe it was written by his six-year-old nephew? Pretty rad, let’s go with that. They still tore the song up and left me with an intense, burning satisfaction in my belly. (That could also have been the three burgers I had for dinner -they were small I swear!)
All Them Witches spent a good amount of time on their latest album ATW. My personal favourite on the album, “Workhorse,” felt a little rushed that night. What I love so much about that song is that it broods and is extremely laid back while remaining heavy, but they seemed to be pushing it a bit too much. On the flipside, they absolutely obliterated “Charles William,” giving me a whole new appreciation and renewed energy for the track. When these guys are on point, I’d put them up against any other stoner or psychedelic rock band, not a word of a lie. Their cover of Jimi Hendricks’ “Manic Depression” was a nice surprise and a befitting choice for a cover. I really don’t think anyone was interested in leaving L’Astral when the band left the stage. Dumbstruck and a little woozy from the beating my ears had just taken, I went off into the night in search of a new soul, as All Them Witches had just harvested mine.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Mihaela Petrescu
*edited by Kate Erickson