Lately, when people ask what kind of music I listen to, my response is “Bands coming to Zagreb”. Concerts are being announced by the day and it takes time to give everything an ear and weed though the countless names in search of promising events to add to my schedule. When I heard Nashville rockers All Them Witches, without much thinking I knew I’d be there. Quality stoner blues is rare and a thing to behold. In fact, I liked them so much I even downloaded a song or two from their second album “Lightning at the Door” to my phone so I can blues on the go.
This is, I think, where positive things to say about ATW end. And we’ve just begun! The quality and the experience of their studio recordings was unfortunately not fully achieved in a live setting. All Them Witches is a three-piece band, but they weren’t always one. When listening closely to their material, if you can get past the cryptic, mind-bending lyrics, you often hear more than just three instruments. Losing the keyboard player then substituting him with absolutely fucking nothing is NOT a pro gamer move and made them sound somewhat one-dimensional.
The lack of subtle background tunes isn’t the only thing lowering this performance’s score. I’ve got two more objections then I’ll be done with them. Someone already noted that the singer/bassist was very, very quiet. I didn’t think he was quiet, just lazy. All he had to do was move two centimetres from the mic and apply the same distance to his lips. Their massively rock-star attitude was unduly, but expected since the show was sold out and the rest of the audience seemed more than into it.
The only thing that perplexed me more than the guitarist’s hairstyle was the bassist’s shirt. Wearing a loose button-up over a T-shirt is difficult enough if you’re older than 18, but if you must, a good rule of the thumb is to either roll the sleeves up or leave them be. There isn’t a single occasion where a short-sleeved button up is acceptable (it was never acceptable, not even in the late 90’s/early 00’s when ‘everything went’). Do you have any idea what this style icon did? He grabbed a regular shirt then cut the sleeves off, so not only is it a short-sleeved shirt, it’s also un-hemmed with the loose threads hanging off. If I paid to see this gig, this is the point where I’d ask for my money back.
If you think this will be yet another report where Helen gives way more praise to the support than the actual main act, you’re absolutely right. Acid Hags were a fucking delight! I’m warning you immediately that I’m definitely not seeing this band for what they are but for what they could be. Anyone brave enough to go vocal-free already has a massive plus in my book. Whenever we’re seeing a fresh, local stoner project, I expect a different, faster, sludgier and ‘softer’ type of stoner, like Killed A Fox or Sloanwall. The only Croatian stoner band that truly impressed me were Vukojarac. Until today.
Familiar stoner drums could be heard so I made my way inside and SQUEALED. I didn’t know we had our own Walmart Al Cisneros but apparently we do! Target Chris Hakius wasn’t bad either. This was a focused and immersed drummer, paired with a magical, talented bassist. And then there was the guitar. Not the guitarist, specifically the guitar. The sound of it had nothing to do with this band, as a matter of fact, this type of guitar…needs a vocal. This guy needs to be pulled to a darker side than this. He’s got the legs for it. They all need new gear, a tiny bit of musical direction and they’ll be rejected by labels for recording un-publishable music in no time!
Unfortunately, I don’t feel this gig was Močvara’s best Christmas gift to it’s visitors (maybe a gift from that drunk uncle who forgot to get you anything so he gives you a $5 iTunes giftcard…but you own an Android). Plenty of chances to fix that. Maybe they shock us with an Orthodox Christmas gift next year!