As we count down the last days of september, some of us settle back into our daily grind after some well-earned summer holidays, and what better way to kick back into your working routine than with a class-A show set up by our beloved and trusted harvesters of all things slow n' heavy. Our honored guest for the evening being the spellbinding diva, the ravishing and mysterious Jex Thoth, whose exceptional set at Tuska 2011 had left a mark on my memory.
Opening for the night were two french acts of the sludge and stoner persuasion, the first of which being Stonebirds from Brittany. I will admittedly regret to admit that the show could have kicked off in a more convincing way, as the sound was lacking some of that punchy energy you'd come for a band with such a style. The band did deliver a few tasty bits and riffs towards the latter half of their set, but overall the band's' set didn't have all that much to write about, sorry guys.
We then got served a second local opening dish for the evening, an instrumental stoner rock trio from Montpelier going by the name of ÖfÖ Am. Though the band's compositions did come off as a bit of a patchwork assemblage of riffs and grooves, the simple fact of the matter was that it somehow simply worked. With some great energy to back up their set of effective and well executed riffs and grooves, ÖfÖ Am got the audience's’ blood flowing warm. From galloping riffs to sludgy headbanging sections that will drive any sane, well-balanced individual to start punching walls in, what ÖfÖ Am seems to lack in arrangement seems to be largely compensated in the quality of their riffs. Other than the slightly inconsistent nature of their compositions, one could also regret the band's’ tendency to end their songs in very abruptly, though this didn’t come too much in the way of the bands’ great performance either.
Then finally came the time for Jex Thoth and her band to hit the stage in front of a fairly packed venue of eager fans, fans in front of which she had visibly no intention of letting down as we would soon find out. As tradition has it, the stage lights were handled by the bands’ candlelit decorum and Jex Thoth initiated the live show with the burning of Palo-Santo incense burning, a sort of opening ritual so to speak. Be it through the haunting, mystical decorum or the bands’ transcendent stage presence, Jex Thoth certainly knows how to pull off an exceptional show. Whereas the live sound quality for Stonebirds had left to be desired, Jex Thoth got a studio-like, crystal clear live sound and mix to lay down her equally solid performance all the while preserving a strong, vibrant live energy to her breathtaking performance. The front woman swayed and danced across the stage in a captivating and contagious trance all the while delivering a pitch-perfect and deeply moving performance. While the band’s catalog does have a fair amount of rockin’, catchier numbers, tonights’ set mostly favoured some of the slower and moodier side of their back-catalog as well as a few brand new songs from their upcoming studio release. While we did miss out on a few of her more popular “hits”, the conviction and pacing with which the show was carried out could not have made for a more cohesive and immersive experience.
While I had already been wowed by Jex Thoth’s last performance I got to see, I was not expecting her to exceed my expectations to the point she managed to do with this show, nor could I believe my ears when I later found out that the show had nearly been cancelled due to Jex Thoth being ill, had she not insisted on maintaining the show nevertheless. Neither her incredible stage performance nor her pitch-perfect singing could have led me to suspect that she was ill, which only comes to show how strong as a performer and what an unstoppable force Jex Thoth and her band truly are.
PS: I'd like to yet again send my thanks to Stoned Gatherings for making this review possible. Be sure to visit their website to find out about their upcoming shows.
Stoned GatheringsOfficial Websitehttp://stoned-gatherings.com/