I had not realized it before coming to this show, mostly to see Cough, but Elder is a very hot ticket at the moment in the Stoner/Doom community judging by the diversity of people present at this sold out show at the Underworld on a Monday night! The bill was particularly good but better shows have been much less attended by a less enthusiastic crowd.
When Steak took to the stage, the room was already quite full and ready to bang their heads while drinking beer. The perfect combination to listen to their brand of Stoner rock with all their cover adorned with comic book version of the band members represented as action heroes. Steak are not as spectacular as their cover suggest, but they do play some competent Stoner in the same vein as Red Fang or Truckfighters. Nothing new here but the riffs are solid and every musician plays well. It’s regrettable that the voice was not more pushed to the front as the vocal lines could have brought more life to the songs but their short set remained enjoyable.
Cough brought a completely different atmosphere with their satanic sludge. Their latest album, Still they prey, produced by Jus Osborne of Electric Wizard is full of sulfur drenched songs with some excellent vocal lines and riffs. Live, all the elements of the albums are replicated to perfection with the added strength of the guitar riffs being brought from a set of Orange amp ready to bring some muscle. The two opening tracks from their latest, Haunter of the dark and Possession, were haunted by the vocals of David Cisco while Joseph Arcaro turned into a screeching banshee when came his turn to scream. What really elevated the set was the band’s cohesion on-stage. Their musicianship stands out as much on album than in the live setting, making Cough the best band of the night in my opinion, as much for the quality of the songs than for the overall atmosphere.
Elder was riding a very different wave similar to early Baroness. Proggy but not wanky, the trio pulls not just great riffs but very cohesive compositions full of occasions for every musician to shine as they progress through the songs as a whole. There are a lot of solos in Elder‘s music but no bass or drum solos, just some very dynamic groovy songs that effortlessly pass the fifteen minute mark. Sadly, the sound was not as massive than Cough which brough the intensity of the set down a notch, especially after witnessing them live at Koko during the Desertfest where the sound was clear and massive! Nick DiSalvo’s voice is also not as impressive live as it is on disc. He can sing but he doesn’t pull off as easily the memorable melodies found on Lore. The hour of music they played did pass very quickly despite my lack of knowledge of their material outside of their latest album. The crowd was still obviously very happy with what what they heard considering the thunderous applause from the audience at the end of the show. Elder on their way to much bigger things, and I have no doubt it was the last time we will have seen them at the Underworld (a pity for DiSalvo who said it was one off his favorite venue) which might be best for them since bigger places seem to suit their sound more.