Ahh. The blessed stoner rock gig. The welcoming smell of beer and leather jackets. The familiar sight of long-haired men nonchalantly nodding their heads in appreciation. And of course the awesome, satisfying crunch of that low-end guitar tone. First up on this four band-bill is duo MMF. It’s certainly refreshing to see a female playing guitar in a genre typically dominated by men. Theirs is a seriously rocking sound, boiled down to the pure essence of stoner with pleasingly stereotypical song titles such as the awesome “Astral Messiah.”
Next Hundred Years go for a more adventurous and refined approach to songwriting, even nudging towards Tool-esque proggyness at times. Definitely the most accomplished and interesting band of the night, they finish their set with the brilliant instrumental “Uma,” complete with violin accompaniment. The sound in the venue tonight is superb, but Hezzakya seem to have decided to sacrifice high fidelity for sheer teeth-rattling volume. Guitars aloft and balls out, they tear headlong through a relentless barrage of riffage, fuelled by testosterone and beer. They only stop for breath in order for the singer to share the important message “Get wasted, but don’t drive.” Always keen to comply, I’m pretty drunk by this point and I’m certainly not driving—I’m cycling. Sadly and somewhat curiously, about half of the crowd has left by the time Hypnopilot take the stage. Maybe Hezzakya scared ‘em away. Still, this Calgary trio seems pleased with the attendance: “All we get back home is about eight confused emo kids standing at the back!” Busting out a fuzzed-up groove in a similar vein to Fu Manchu, they even manage to get some folks boogying at the back. They also do a very respectable rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Into the Void,” giving a nod of acknowledgement to a man that all of tonight’s performers owe a great debt—the forefather of stoner rock, Tony Iommi.