life

One more day above the roses.

I had a psychiatry appointment on Sunday. This happens once every six to nine months or so, and would totally unremarkable were it not for the fact that I had it it in the vestibule of The Birchmere. I’d screwed up my scheduling, and didn’t realize it before it was too late to reschedule or cancel my doctor’s appointment. Fortunately, it was telehealth, so the entire thing pretty much went like, “Hi! I’msosorryIhaveaschedulingconflictIdidn’tmeantoeverything’sgoodandalsoIincreasedmydosageofsertraline!” Fortunately, my psychiatrist saw the physical evidence of my being out of the house as an additional sign that my panic disorder was still under control, and the call didn’t need to take long.

A mural of a guitar and the words "The Birchmere."

And so, luckily, I was done with the appointment and able to dash back into my seat before Gaelic Storm took the stage.

I knew they’d be fun to see, but I had no idea just how fun. The songs, the banter between them, even the images on the screen behind the stage (especially the donkey race) — it all came together in an atmosphere of warmth, laughter, clapping, and glass-raising.

This was also the exit of their extremely talented fiddle player, Katie Grennan, and the introduction of the also very talented Natalia (or Natalya, I haven’t been able to find her full name). The band switched fiddle players in mid song, then the fiddle player switched fiddles, as smoothly as you please.

Honestly, as much as I love Gaelic Storm’s recorded songs, I was blown away listening to them live. Pretty much every band member is a multi-instrumentalist (their percussionist, Ryan Lacey, was incredible). Their whole set was energetic, and every song was filled with complex melodies that interwove even as the musicians traded one instrument for another.

A photo of (most of) the band.

(And no, they did not play the one about Russel Crowe.)

If you ever have the chance to see Gaelic Storm, take it, even if you’re not familiar with their work. It’ll be a good time.

life

Good music transcends time and language.

I’ll let one of the The Hu’s frontmen say it.

Music transcends any language. Even when we were growing up and listening to Western rock bands, to this day I still don’t understand some of my favorite songs. But [through] the music, the rhythm and the tune and the way it’s delivered… It’s something special. You’re able to ‘understand’ everything because you feel it. 

Gala (Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar), in an interview with Louder

I don’t remember how I first learned about The Hu. When I write or paint, I often end up putting a song on, then letting whatever algorithm is currently spying on me keep recommending things. I remember being captivated by Wolf Totem, and put their songs on heavy rotation afterward.

This past Monday, my partner and I finally got to see them in concert. It was at Warren Theater, which isn’t quite what you’d picture when you think of a metal show (think lots of seats, chandeliers, ceiling medallions, you get the picture). I thought the seats might get in the way of moving around. I did not allow them to.

The band was fantastic. The energy was contagious. The crowd was enthusiastic and friendly. (The guy sitting behind us photobombed us in a hilarious way, and I almost regret laughing so hard because the shot ended up blurry.) And the music. It’s hard to describe the fusion of traditional Mongolian instruments and throat singing with metal in a way that does it justice. I could write about it for what feels like forever, but, as the old quote goes, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

This is what modern bardic tradition should feel like. It feels like the kind of power old stories talk about when they speak of bards that could strike a person down with a verse.

I barely know a few words in Mongolian. If a song interests me, I need to look up a translation, and a romanization so I can at least try to approximate the pronunciation. It doesn’t matter, I still try. My lack of linguistic skills meant that I couldn’t know any of Jaya’s between-song banter. It didn’t matter, I cheered with my fists in the air anyway.

This was easily one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in ages. If you have the opportunity to see The Hu, take it.