Stoned Jesus, Half Gramme of Soma, Curf // AN Club, Athens, Greece // 21.06.2014
Excuse me, chief editor? Can this report be just five words long? “You should have been there”. Absolutely not you say? Well ok, let’s try to find some words to describe the events of Saturday night.
The performance of Stoned Jesus in An Club would complete the circle of their Greek tour appearances after Ioannina and Thessaloniki. We had a notion of what had happened on those appearances, hearing rumors of magnificence from our friends who saw them and from comments on the social media, but we had to witness it to believe it.
First though, let’s say a few words about the bands that made sure to warm us up before Stoned Jesus dominated the stage. First off were Curf, who presented a mixture of stoner, perhaps a bit of sludge in there, injected with some post elements as well. I did not enjoy them very much, but the crowd had a very different opinion, cheering and applauding loudly on each track they played. Plus, the last track called “King of the blind “(I might be wrong) was killer. Next on was Half Gramme of soma who also portrayed a very progressive perception on the stoner sound. Some atmospheric elements, a bit of surf rock intros ( at least that’s what it sounded to me) and powerful riffs were put together and a very energetic and talkative frontman with possible vocal influences from Serj Tankian did the trick for them. However, I found the 45 minutes of their performance a bit excessive and by the last 3 or 4 tracks I’d began to live on Stoned Jesus planet.
But I didn’t have to wait much longer to see them. The 3 Ukrainians got themselves on stage almost 5 minutes after the previous band, plugged in and ready to rock ‘n’ roll. And man did they rock. They kicked off with “Bright like the morning”, smoothly and psychedelically, as if they didn’t want us to notice that they were on stage. But we noticed them as sure as hell when Igor stepped on the “fuzz” button and his mighty guitar starting echoing all over the venue. And during the beautiful refrain we had the first sing alongs of the night, just a small taste of what was about to follow. Next on came Silkworm Confessions, a track that will be featured in the new album and Red Wine, during which we had the first pushing and shoving of the night in the front rows. “Here come the robots” was the last track during which we felt we were in a regular concert. A “regular concert” that already felt like a big party, but anyway.
Igor’s speech on the song “YFS” (another new one), stating this is their artistic contribution to the current situation on their homeland and the subsequent rise of a Ukrainian flag (reading “Freedom –not war” on it) from a fan was a real bonding moment between Stoned Jesus and the Greek crowd. After all that though, it gets a little tough to explain how the rest of the concert went down. That is partially because the next song was introduced by the words “You drive all around Greece and you see all those MOUNTAINS” . The response to the word “mountains” was equivalent to a goal getting scored in stoppage time, an extra loud roar by everyone in An Club for one of the greatest stoner songs of the last decade “I’m the mountain.” . The turning point of the show though was the way they performed this song. Firstly, let’s appreciate the gorgeous little solos that Igor managed to cram in the classic psychedelic intro of the song. Secondly, I won’t forget his smile when the crowd starting singing along the lyrics. And last but not least, after 12 minutes when we thought the song was over, Igor and the bassist share a look, and decided to jump back first inside the crowd and play ( without ONE mistake) most of the remaining song while crowd-surfing. Your typical every day concert stuff.
Just as typical as the choice to play a stoner version of Star Wars’ IMPERIAL MARCH in the middle of the monstrous “Black Woods”! Seriously, I’m not making this up, there are documents on Youtube and you should check them out. To top it all off, how would you like a TRIPLE encore? I wouldn’t say no to that. The songs that Stoned Jesus chose for that matter were Electric Mistress, which, along with the final two minutes of Black Woods, caused a series of moshpits and headbangings unlike any other stoner concert I’ve attended, Nirvana’s school (possibly my favorite Nirvana track!) out of fucking nowhere and Insatiable King (during which even the drummer took a stage dive and Igor stayed behind jamming the shit out of that drumkit!). After every song they would say “that’s it guys” but the fans would beg for one more song and Stoned Jesus, surpassing their standard concert time with each song, would agree.
I truly feel incapable to convey the feeling of this concert from the point of YFS and on. Words cannot describe the connection between Stoned Jesus and the crowd, the smiles and the happiness they showed each time we treated them like a legendary band and not some obscure band from Ukraine with only two full length albums. And of course, words cannot describe the frantic reactions and screams of the crowd (best of all during Electric Mistress) each time Stoned Jesus returned our admiration to them with unbelievable performances on stage. Words cannot describe neither my flight to the first row when I heard the first notes of “School”, nor the wide open eyes and small phrases like “What did we just experience?” that everyone shared after their set had ended. The venue had turned into an arena and the atmosphere was cracking with energy. That is why it all gets down to “You should have been there” and that’s why I wish this report was just five words long.
P.S I guess it starts getting routine with the credits to Smoke the fuzz gigs after each concert they organize. But two days after that majestic concert, Smoke the fuzz gigs announced the arrival of YOB with PALLBEARER in Greece on October. I guess some people think that Roadburn is too far for us and have decided to bring it here, one band at a time.
Report: Axilleas Pantogios
Photos: Dimitris Balabakis
Check S&D Photography for more photos.