Gig Review: Stöner / Slomosa – Thekla, Bristol (4th May 2022)

It’s always fun to attend a gig at the Thekla, the old German cargo ship converted into a music venue in Bristol dock. A light and breezy evening saw a healthy crowd lining up before doors opened for the arrival of some true desert rock royalty, the three-piece aptly named Stöner. Comprising Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and Ryan Gűt, surely household names to those who like their riffs deep, fuzzy, and dirty, the band have been in the UK to participate at Desertfest in London and a handful of dates across the UK. Bristol was the last UK show and proved a fitting send off to the band’s European jaunt.

Slomosa (c) Paul Hutchings

Norway isn’t the place that springs to mind when you think of stoner rock. It’s not the warmest place in the world, those heavy grooves that are more suited to the sun-drenched palm tree flanked open spaces of the US. Slomosa don’t care, describing their sound as ‘desert rock from a cold country’. The four-piece entered stage left bang on 8pm to what can only be described as mild applause and left 30 minutes later to huge cheers and whoops of endorsement. Yep, the band from Bergen brought their mesmeric stoner sound and won over a room full of rock connoisseurs.

Unassuming and mild mannered in personality, Slomosa let their music do the talking and ripped through tracks from their excellent self-titled debut album. The vocals fit the band’s deep grooves, and their mix of heavy riffs, elements of grunge and wild percussion were both fresh and comfortingly familiar. Having been on the road for a couple of weeks, including an appearance at Desertfest too, the band were as tight as a band needs to be in this genre. Naturally comfortable in front of an audience who were obviously there for the headliners, the few fans familiar with them sang along with gusto. By the closing track “Horses”, there were many more fans, and if you haven’t checked the album out yet, then it is worth investing a bit of time to do so.

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Stöner (c) Paul Hutchings

Watching Nick Oliveri chat with fans as he did his own soundcheck seemed a bit surreal, but this is a man who is as at home in a small club as he is on a huge stage. Stöner ambled on to the stage at the allotted hour and proceeded to blow a hole in the hull. Brant Bjork plugged in his guitar, nodded to Oliveri and Gűt and kicked into the opening riff from “Red Stays Rad”. Cue emergency reaching for the ear plugs, such was the ferocity of the amplification. Those riffs were literally shaking the entire boat. It’s the perfect opener, the filthy fuzzed up sound filling every void whilst Gűt’s double bass kicking and sheer power ensured that everything was anchored down. Oliveri’s bass hit the low rumbles and bowels began to clench. Bjork’s guitar work is obscene, with a fluid ease of delivery whilst the sharing of vocals with Oliveri works superbly.

As the band dived deep into their set, a quick glance around saw the whole venue was either rocking along, eyes closed as they immersed themselves in the delights being conjured up on stage, including one fellow who felt the need to strip to the waist in excitement, or nodding along furiously to the distortion that blasted from the speakers.

The break from downright filthy riffs arrived with “Own Yer Blues”, whilst the cover of Motörhead’s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” got the place moving a little harder. Newer material from the new album Totally … sat comfortably alongside the likes of “Stand Down” and “The OIder Kids”, with “A Million Beers” and “Party March” particularly fine.  Of course, it was inevitable that they’d finish with a couple of Kyuss tracks and the place erupted as “Gardenia” and “War Machine” concluded the evening in emotional and fine style.

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Photos by Paul Hutchings

Stöner: official | facebook | instagram | spotify

Slomosa: facebook | instagram | bandcampspotify

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