Stoner rock. Can we retire that label, please? Yes, it's easier to imagine dinosaurs walking the earth and wizards casting demon spells and ice-borne Yetis when you're pleasantly zonked out of your ever-lovin' gourd. Shit, even Steely Dan sounds good under those conditions. But every third rock band on earth likely recordsand listens to music, and plays showsunder the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol, and I defy you to find a critic that's ever used the alcohol rock" label. (If you do, you have my permission to slap him.) So a lot of the bands in the genre smoke pot. So what? So does every third actor in Hollywood, half the NBA, and probably your next-door neighbor. Can we move on, please, and maybe talk about the music? Bands like Philly duo Bubonic Bear represent the new breed of the genre, the Sons of Sunn O))) if you willslowed down, with sometimes only a Coltrane-post-1965 sense of melody. Bands like the Bear are a refuge for those who like the drive of metal but have misgivings about the leather-wrapped pomposity of its presentation. A refuge for people who appreciate instrumental virtuosity but cringe at the look-at-me solos ripped off by pointless shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen. A place for people that like the aggressive tone of hardcore punk but feel a little stupid smashing their bodies against each other in dance. Some would argue that the draw is spiritual, a wanderlust to discover the caverns and crevices of one's own existence, however they choose to present themselves, and the beautiful brutality of music is as close as they've found to the Awe of God. Then again, they're probably just baked.
Tue., Jan. 5, 8 p.m., 2010