Review By Ella Loman
Photography By Laura Fox
“What on earth is a classically trained violinist like myself doing at a heavy metal concert??“
While this question might sound like the setup to a corny joke, the answer will likely surprise you. The truth is, last Thursday at the Vogue theater in Indianapolis was the first time I have ever been to a rock concert. And I couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling initiatory experience than the electrifying performance by The HU on Thursday night.
A slow rumble of chanting emerged from the audience as the anticipation grew. It wasn’t long before the entire venue was chanting in unison: “HU! HU! HU!” with fists in the air and excitement growing by the second for The HU; a Mongolian heavy metal band whose music and use of traditional instruments and singing techniques has struck a chord with listeners around the world. As the house lights dimmed, the chants from the audience quickly erupted into screams and cheering as the band took the stage.
Without introduction, the group began the show with one of their most popular songs from their 2019 Album The Gereg. The intensity of their song “Shoog Shoog” was a brilliant choice to begin the concert; immediately exemplifying what is so unique about this group. Their unmistakable sound combined with the theatrical nature of their performance style created a feeling of cinematic drama that was astounding.
Their energy on stage was unrelenting, and their music commanded the attention of every single person in the audience. Each musician brilliantly showcased their technical mastery of instrumental and vocal techniques that are seldom ever heard by western listeners. Two members of the band, “Gala” and “Enkush” are responsible for the use of the Morin Khuur: a traditional bowed string instrument that is native to the Mongol people. The combination of this unorthodox instrument with the deep double-toned throat singing used by the whole group gives The HU its distinct sound that has captivated audiences on an international scale.
The set list was a mix of old and new, including several songs that have yet to be released. Their new material showed exciting musical contrasts that seem to indicate more intentional combination of traditional Mongolian folk music and western style influences. The acoustic interludes and highlighted melodic passages featured in their new material provided a wonderful contrast to their other music and perfectly blended into the overall character of the group. Although every song they played was met with great enthusiasm from the audience, the highlight of the show was definitely the band’s encore choice: a cover of Metallica’s “Sad but True”. Their performance of this rock classic was absolutely phenomenal and had everyone in the venue on their feet and singing along with overwhelming excitement.
The HU is truly a testament to the fact that music is the international language. It has the unique ability to transcend culture, language, and national borders. You don’t need to speak the language or be familiar with the culture to understand the intent and passion behind their music. And after over 18 months without live music, getting to experience this phenomenal live performance is an experience I will never forget.
For more information including details about upcoming tour dates and venues, visit the band’s official website: https://www.thehuofficial.com