Stoned Jesus w/So Lucid Electric Feel @ Nabaklab, Riga

by Emīls Vilcāns

ZjvUxYBA year since their first sold-out show in Riga, the Ukrainian sabbathists – Stoned Jesus – return once again to turn Nabaklab into a stoner’ish doom-crazed church of psychedelia. Accompanied by So Lucid Electric Feel, the evening of 10th of February belongs to everyone who is a mountain by heart.

Entering Nabaklab was somewhat like traveling back to the end of 2014 when ‘Jesus visited the place for the first time. The doors surrounded by smokers, the gloomy stairway towards the smiling [not so much] guard, getting the first beer, spotting the merch-table and noticing Igor lurking around the soon-to-be rocked basement. Despite this first feeling of a familiar sort, the gig turns out to be full of surprises and, in general, a completely different experience from their first  visit.

 As gigs like these go, it’s hard to imagine one without a stage-warmer, assigned to pump up the audience for the main act. In 2014 it being the well known Latvian progressive-stoner metal band “Omertà“, this time we had the rising psychedelic-blues rock from Sigulda, Latvia –  “So Lucid Electric Feel”. With out-bursting energy and amazingly appealing stage charisma, this trio is the sound the Latvian underground scene has longed for. Their loose, laid-back attitude with a hint of sharpness filled the narrow room with some Zeppelin and Hendrix, accompanied by Cobain type vocals. Personally, I can admit this psych act being the biggest surprise of the evening and definitely one of my favorite sounding acts from Latvia at the moment. Rocking since march of 2015 and having a free EP available on ‘youtube‘ alongside some singles, these guys are gradually gigging more and more in Riga and around. If you get the chance, see them! Hands were applauding!

Finally, with the audience cheering, there appears Stoned Jesus before our eyes. Showing pure confidence as a returning band they open with one of their heaviest tracks from “The Harvest” – “Rituals of the Sun“. It shakes off the familiarity from their last gig, showing us their heavier and more aggressive nature and introducing us to the sound of their latest album. That creates a visible contrast in the set-list. With songs from “Seven Thunders Roar” approaching the occult and values of nature, “The Harvest” attends to more delicate matters. Addressing the nature of humans, resistance and guarding what’s rightfully yours is a resemblance of the horrific events that took place in Ukraine during which the newest release was recorded, thus gaining the energy and the tone of a background war on their home-turf.

Nevertheless, these guys still throw everything they have on stage. The doom’ish energy really creates this heavy atmosphere, but it’s still perfectly energetic for the audience to throw each other around. And with the aggressiveness of “The Harvest”, the ‘moshpit’ adapts to the chaotic craziness. Positioning themselves as ‘crowdsurfers’ they don’t hesitate leaning on these nutty folk and float above everyone whilst playing their stuff. Somewhat it’s a magical moment, the ultimate bondage between the performer and the audience. Bursting out those catchy riffs on guitar, maintaining that flowing groove on the bass and kicking it the hell of those drums these guys don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

From experiencing them three times already, I’m still astonished how Stoned Jesus heat up the crowd like no other band does. It’s either their stable fanbase or the appealing energy, but they do make you put everything you got out there. Just like everyone around, you get picked up in the unity of their audience, especially during the song “I’m the Mountain“. With joints up in the air [remembering seeing them in Devilstone Festival 2013, in Lithuania] this song has become somewhat a hymn for every SJ fan out there to sing out by heart. If you feel like a mountain, catch them on their ongoing tour!