While metal fans often only cite the biggest and oldest names when discussing their favourites, the stoner/doom underground is alive and coughing. Telekinetic Yeti and Hyborian have both stirred up the dedicated fanbase with their newest (and only) LPs, and I was lucky enough to see them both yesterday in concert.
While the title is labelled as stoner/doom, the night’s lineup leaned towards a more diverse sound. Such will be expanded upon further below within the dissection of events.
Although Pink Cocoon is based here in Montreal, both Telekinetic Yeti and Hyborian hail from within the United States. Coming from Iowa and Missouri respectively, seeing two smaller names all the way up here in Canada is fairly rare. It is more common for groups as such to do smaller tours around their surrounding states/provinces until they have amassed a fair enough following to create financial sensibility within the idea of a larger continental endeavour. I was very surprised to see the tour announcement on my Instagram feed and that Telekinetic Yeti was headlining.
Unfortunately, the turnout reflected the above. The venue was mid-scaled; I would say that its capacity was about 300-or-so people. There might have been one third of that number at the show’s peak, and that’s including other band members in the crowd. While this doesn’t detract from the music at all, it must be somewhat disheartening for those performing. On the flipside, I feel like the scenario was more of a booking issue rather than a misjudgement of popularity. The venue itself is La Vitrola, which is part of a subset of venues owned by Casa Del Popolo. There are three properties owned by the bar on Saint-Laurent street, each limited to a different capacity of people. The smaller venue which would have been optimal for such a show was already booked by another artist, so I’m pretty sure the bar bumped Telekinetic Yeti and Hyborian up to a bigger venue because they had the free space.
Regardless, all bands were fantastic and each delivered a distinguished flavour with their respective sounds. Let’s go through a rundown of the night’s events.
As mentioned above, Pink Cocoon is a Montreal-based band who just finished their “5 Day July” tour, with the concluding date being the one in question. They play a more mellow and bluesy style of stoner, cited on their website as “doom blues for your soul”, which, quite frankly, is exactly what it is. Their riffs are thick yet soft-edged, and when coupled with vocalist Zolla Marc’s soothing yet rough style of singing, create a beautifully warm atmosphere. To be cheesy, the name is fitting.
I highly recommend Pink Cocoon for fans of Pentagram, Saint-Vitus, and other traditional doom metal acts. The group also has this blues-influenced aspect that oozes from their guitar solos which adds a nice touch to their music. While the group is fairly small in terms of popularity, their creative output matches those within the big leagues.
In similar fashion to their music, Zolla gave me a warm welcome outside the venue before the show was set to begin. As I’m walking towards my destination this smug beanie-wearing long-haired dude stares me down from half a block away and as I walk by him to throw something in the trash he asked me if I’m here for the “stoner metal paradise”. It must have been fairly obvious since I was trotting along in my Pallbearer long-sleeve. We talked for a bit about his band, marijuana, and cancer. Following their set, he gave me a CD when I payed a little extra for one of their pins. Stand-up guy.
Hyborian was the first member of the bill for the night. They play a faster and punkier style of stoner metal with a mix of clean and somewhat harsher vocals. This was, however, when the sound mixing flaws became prevalent. During their soundcheck, Hyborian kept asking the mixing booth operator to turn everything up, which ultimately meant that the vocals would become flushed out by the massive fat guitar riffs. While stoner metal is meant to be played loud, to the mission statement of the music in a way as you want to become immersed within the smokey sonic waves, Hyborian could have probably benefitted from turning their guitars down a bit.
Regardless, Hyborian’s faster sound translated extremely well in a live setting, and the group themselves were very energetic. The lead singer was jumping around, stepping on the floor amps, and leaning into the crowd. Their drummer looked to be having a great time as well, as he kept smiling and headbanging, especially when crashing down on those big drum moments when they line up perfectly with the direction of the music. I always appreciate an energetic drummer, as watching guys like Joey Jordison of Slipknot is fairly unentertaining, as he isn’t very emotive or active during his band’s set. Hyborian is ultimately a fun and enthusiastic band who make some great music as well. Anyone interested in music at all will enjoy this group live; catch them if they’re on a bill near you.
Now we have arrived for what we all came for that night. Although released a year ago, the duo is out to support their only release thus far, which was featured in a past article of mine. That release, Abominable, is terrific and really pushes the boundaries of stoner/doom in general.
I absolutely love these guys because their appearance perfectly fits not only the style of music they play, but the name they hail under as well. Telekinetic Yeti consists of two hippy-looking, bearded, tall, and long-haired gentlemen. They even kind of lumber around when I briefly saw them backstage, with their tall heights and whatnot. It really is wholesomely-comic and puts a smile on your face.
To the audience’s delight, their setlist was split evenly between tracks on Abominable and new songs, presumably to be featured on their next release (which needs to come soon). They played their big single “Electronaut”, “Stoned and Feathered”, and “Himalayan Hymn” from their known songs, and about three unheard ones which I didn’t catch the names of (I think one was called “Smoke Wizard” and another was “something Yeti”. Once again, I had trouble hearing the vocals over the monstrous guitar riffs.
Luckily though, Telekinetic Yeti’s music is very instrument-based and features vocals sparingly. So, while Hyborian’s music was probably hit the hardest by the improperly-balanced sound mixing, the headliner was saved in that regard. It was really a nice treat seeing such a unique group in a live setting; I fell in love with this band about half a year ago and I honestly thought it’d be a long time since I’d see them in concert since they are a smaller group, but luckily I was proven wrong.
By nature, their portion of the set would have seemed unfeasible due to their band composition. They’re just two dudes playing up there, one with a guitar and another with a drumkit. I would say they could’ve further benefitted from hiring a third member for the tour, but guitarist Alex Baumann’s pedal ability was top-notch, and he filled the air quite a bit. He used a lot of sustain and other pedal effects to create his song intros (He’d play a riff and have it loop repeatedly over what he was actually playing) which was quite impressive to see. The man is a master of the pedals. There were even some tricky portions of their music on their records that he nailed live.
My only quam (which is basically a positive in some respect) is that they didn’t play long enough. I wanted more of their portion of the concert. The group only played for roughly forty minutes, which really isn’t that long for a headliner’s part of the set. As mentioned above, they only got through above seven songs, which was somewhat disappointing. Furthermore, when they concluded their set, the two band members ran off the stage; people would have definitely cheered for an encore if they didn’t unplug their instruments so quickly and breeze away. On another note, they had someone else at their merch booth selling their stuff. I would have liked to see them manning their station like the other two groups did that night, its nice to be humble, especially when people spend money and time coming to your show.
Ultimately, the trio of acts all competed and complemented each other nicely. While it was a “stoner metal paradise”, there was some blues, some punkier stuff, and of course, a lot of stoner metal. The tour is only about halfway completed thus far, so make sure to attend and support if they’re playing near you.