The air was heavy and damp when I arrived in Bloomfield. It was if it were about to storm, and as soon as I stepped out of my ride and jogged across Liberty Avenue I heard…thunder…in the form of West Virginia outlaws Horseburner. Their set in Howler’s Coyote Cafe, one of Pittsburgh’s most loved rock bars, had just begun, Thin Lizzy riffs burning and in love with life…and death. This being my third time seeing them in less than two years, they were particularly juiced this evening, drummer Adam Nohe and rifleman Jack Thomas trading vocals as all the band members performed their parts with an aggressive and infectious exuberance, something uncommon in the stoner metal scene.
Up next were Maryland hippie tokers Faith In Jane, whose sunshine superman take on Mahogany Rush brought the shake and the quake with psychedelic aplomb and as with all the bands on the bill, guitar dexterity and mastery reigned.
Jakethehawk took things into the high-as hell eighties and lowlife nineties, dredging from the lake floor Kyuss and early Soundgarden but with a bit more hipshake and no Subpop pretension or cynicism. Rather, there was a youthful joy to their set as if they were a bunch of lads discovering heavy metal for the first time, playing so effectively well it seemed as easy as throwing shapes.
Brimstone Coven, whom I caught in their territory of Wheeling last week, were as fun-loving as doom gets, their duo of throats jokingly bantering in between smoking renditions of newer tunes like “Straight Through The World” and back catalogue favorite “Slow Death” among other chestnuts, their Black Sabbath giving way to Blue Oyster Cult at times in terms of frolicsome abandon.
“Anyone who says the scene is dead is not trying,” said John Huxley of Jakethehawk to me as the show ended. And if the packed house proved anything, it is very much alive and endeavoring. People love this kind of music in the Steel City.