Live: Witch Mountain Bring A Little Too Much Polish To Saint Vitus


Witch Mountain w/Lord Dying, Pilgrim, Bezoar
Saint Vitus
Friday, June 8

Better than: Kittie? Maybe?

In theory, Witch Mountain—whose heavy, bluesy fuzz is fronted by the expressive, theatrical Uta Plotkin—should work. But on Friday night at Saint Vitus, Plotkin and her band could only convey a lack of depth, giving the impression that over the past 15 years Witch Mountain still hasn’t gelled into something stronger than an act whose novelty is based on the gender of its lead singer.

The highest notes sung by Plotkin, who joined the Portland outfit when it regrouped after a seven-year hiatus in 2009, soar far above the band’s uninteresting, plodding riffs. She is supremely talented, but there’s a lack of grit that makes her seem almost too perfect to be convincing as siren of darkness; her angst-ridden lyrics become even less believable when delivered between smiles. Worse, she could barely be heard on all but her topmost notes, as the band played so loudly that they overpowered their star performer.

Openers Pilgrim offered a scrappy contrast, from their disheveled appearance to the obscure KMD guitar amp, which singer and guitarist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi claims to have bought for $100. With bass player Count Elric the Soothsayer and drummer Krolg, the Slayer of Man, Pilgrim are a trio of misfits who seem to have teamed up between games of Magic: The Gathering. The Rhode Islanders played a meticulously unhurried, gloomy set that unfolded like a slow thunderclap and concluded with Rossi lying down, writhing on the stage through his final solo before hurling his guitar into the speaker. It was a naked moment from the doomiest band of the night.

The polished five-piece Lord Dying have a faster-paced take on the stoner/doom vibe, with hints of deft Megadeth-like riffage buried among the sludge. Bass player D. Capuano was particularly fearsome, grounding the set of grueling, tightly executed tunes.

Brooklyn-based Bezoar kicked off the evening by celebrating the release of their gloomy prog/psychedelic fusion Wyt Deth. Sara Villard, whose quirky, creepy vocal flourishes contrasted with Plotkin’s flawlessness, at one point revealed a maturity that Witch Mountain might do well to note: “I know it’s going be a journey,” she said of her travails in doom metal. It’s too bad that the night’s headliners haven’t taken that lesson to heart and carved out their own daring path.

Critical bias: I’m from Texas, y’all. If you tell me I’m going to hear blues-inspired doom, you better give me some fucking excruciating blues.

Overheard: Audience member Nick Didkovsky, on Pilgrim: “It’s like they met in detention in high school. Like, can you imagine how many times this guy got kicked out of class? And the drummer was already there.”

Random notebook dump: Both Rossi and Lord Dying guitarist C. Evans used curling guitar cables that looked like telephone cords. Homage to Geezer Butler?