On November 5th, at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Richmond Virginia doom giants Windhand stepped on stage to send Toronto into the deepest realms of stoned-out psych-doom goodness. We decided to take a few edibles and check it out, what follows is a tale of perseverance….
A few hours before liftoff, Storm (my wife) and I leave our sleepy neighborhood in Hamilton and climb aboard the bus departing for the city. In proper Joey Diaz fashion, we make sure to be stocked full of edibles and a few beers for the trip, as if we are leaving Jersey in the mid ‘80s to catch ACDC at Madison Square Garden. The discussion in our kitchen is to whether or not to transport our goodies in a more insulated container.
Trying to keep with trends I whipped up some cannabis-infused fat bombs topped with pepitas, cocoa nib and Hawaiian grey salt. Keeping things health-conscious, this tiny snack is keto friendly with the fat being 100% coconut oil and sweetened with a touch of stevia. For the most part, these are slightly shelf stable and it being a cold night we assumed they would survive the trip, but more on that later. What I can say is that these are best kept in the fridge and will comfortably live in your freezer for 3 months, if you choose to make your batch in advance.
We arrive at the Horseshoe with time to spare, so we settle in for a pint in the front bar before making our way to the back. The usual concertgoers begin to appear as the time draws near along with a set of new faces, ones not really expected at a doom show. In the past, I’ve jokingly called Windhand doom for attractive people (I must reiterate that I mean this jokingly as Windhand are one of my favourite bands) and tonight, perhaps because of the release of their new album, we are definitely seeing a new group of fans.
Contrary to popular believe, there’s a ton of colour in the “Grey Garden”.
A gentleman who was definitely trying his best to point out he is a George Michael fan and is flanked by his female counterparts (who more than likely are sporting stick and poke tattoos) force their way past us and join the other merch enthusiasts around the awkwardly placed merch table. I frown for a second but shrug this whole scenario off, who the fuck am I to judge?
Before Satan’s Satyrs take the stage, we decide to step out to test out my recipe and catch a breath of fresh air. Upon reaching into my bag it is discovered that the fat bombs were not as stable as we first imagined they would be. So there we were, standing on a busy Queen Street West staring at a Ziploc bag full of what could be mistaken for the outcome of food that is far too spicy mixed with Dollar Store cupcake wrappers.
It is at that moment that our stoner ingenuity kicks in and we find a way to overcome the problem we are faced with. Like the high school kid with nothing but a dime bag and an empty water bottle, one way or another we will be getting high tonight. We head to the A&W next door to the venue and ask for two spoons, the teenage cashier seems reluctant to give two leather clad rockers plastic spoons but she can’t add up what harm could truly be done.
Minutes later we are digging into our snack that is now in a thick batter-like state and trying our best not to draw any attention to ourselves. Despite the appearance, our mouths are taken for a ride as the organic peanut butter and the lightly sweetened cocoa take the drivers seat. Quickly what follows is a pas de duex of cocoa nib and Hawaiian salt, that helps close off the performance given by our powerful little friends.
Returning to the back room of the Horseshoe, we sit at the extremely low tables (it feels like a tiny saloon) and tuck into another pint as Satan’s Satyrs take stage. Storm pulls her camera and motions that we move up but quickly stops midway from standing up and displays a concerning look. Her camera won’t turn on, she changes batteries only to discover that this too does not solve the issue. I’m only in possession of an old Minolta with very generic Kodak film so there is no way I will be of any help. This is going to be a long night.
Nevertheless, our curiosity drowns out our problem as the high energy Satan’s Satyrs is pouring out on stage makes it difficult for us, or anyone else for that matter, to be focusing on anything else. Sporting 10000 lbs of hair they burst into smoke-fuelled Rock n’ Roll that quickly grips onto the crowd that is lazily forming a tight semi circle at the stage. They definitely seem different from the last time I saw them, I was expecting déjà vu tonight but was pleasantly proven wrong. The band delivers, and doesn’t miss a beat, as they power through their set. They end as aggressively as they started and we are left with a bit too much energy in our system as we patiently wait for Windhand (and our edibles) to kick our asses.
Our timing was near perfect (and perhaps we followed the rule of talking shit about the edibles) as the vintage horror soundtrack organs cue Windhand to the stage. In typical Windhand fashion, Dorthia enters with incense in hand and places it atop an amp where it will live for the remainder of the set. My feet become weighted to the floor as the opening notes of “Old Evil” shake the weathered walls of the Horseshoe. I decided that there was no fighting where the night was going, I was to accept without any hesitation that Windhand would be guiding me to a place where I was not.
Like the rest of us, you’re about to get possessed by the “Diablerie”.
Parker Chandler (a.k.a Chanandler Bong, look it up) carries a crushing, fuzzed rhythm from beginning to end as soaring guitar solos are brought back to earth by Dorthia’s hauntingly beautiful vocals. An indescribable body buzz rushes over me mid-set and I begin to resemble a deer in headlights as a distortion break is quickly erased by “Born to Die”. For good reasons, the set list showcases their newly released and greatly received album Eternal Return leaving little room to relax as they go through another 30 minutes of crushing doom.
Before I go further I should mention that a little over a year ago Storm, my partner in crime, and I had visited Las Vegas for the Psycho Las Vegas music festival. On the second day, Windhand played on the main stage to a packed house. To no fault of their own, the sound did no justice to what they were fully capable of. So, coming into this show I was carrying mixed feelings, but almost immediately me and my opinions were put in our respectful places.
From the over all level of volume of the aggressive rhythm section, all the way to the powerful yet comforting vocals, Windhand has put its name up there as the high water mark of stoner/doom bands to see live. Perhaps it was the edibles, but like many others in the room that night I felt an uncontrollable feeling laying weight over my entire being. A force on my trapezius muscle pulled my head back before snapping it forward, this began to happen on repeat, in time with music and did not stop until it was all over. The night ended with a quick bathroom break and a mad scramble back up the stairs as I hear “Cassock” rumbling through the ceiling, for another 13 minutes of offerings from the Virginia natives.
The night was long, despite only having two bands on the bill, but the result was one of the best shows of 2018 for me. The infused…goo… ingested that night may have been an aid in the overall experience of the night, but there is no question that things were taken to a level higher than me. Windhand’s new album Eternal Return is available on Relapse Records, also Satan’s Satyrs’ The Lucky Ones can be found on RidingEasy Records.