OM's 4/20 show wasn't about the weed, surprisingly

OM is often lumped in with the genres of "stoner rock" and "doom metal," and it seems likely to be not coincidental that its tour ended on April 20th in Colorado.

But the band's 4/20 show did not seem to have either a stoner or doom vibe to it. Washingtonians have to wait until June before recreational marijuana is available, but in Denver it has been within reach of anyone of age and monetary means since January. One might be excused for assuming that plenty of that smoke would have been wafting about the Bluebird for this band's show. When OM's Al Cisneros performed with Sleep in January, several people had to be hauled out for overindulging in various substances, but that simply didn't seem to be happening at this show on a "holiday" for which it must be assumed that there'd be plenty of chemical mind-altering going on. Instead, OM engaged in sonic mind-altering.

The music itself was more hypnotic and trance-inducing than soporific. With Robert Lowe's spectral keyboard work and with the well-integrated samples of strings alongside Cisneros' deep, driving, melodic bass lines off of which Emil Amos based his expressive drumming the music often felt more like religious devotional music more so than something intended for kicking back and burning one. It was such a focused and vivid sound with dimensionality, space, a sense of place in the mind and in physical reality. What psychological landscape transportation was going on was happening whether anyone was indulging substances in the honor of the holiday or otherwise or not at all.

It wasn't a long, drawn out, self-indulgent set of music either. It wasn't jam band fodder. It had intention, while also inviting you to project your imagination into its modulated flow of sound. It didn't not suggest a specific effect but it was impossible to ignore due to the way it did draw you in with its repetitions and dynamic arcs of rhythm. Was it Stoner Rock for Stoner Day? Sure, if you wanted it to be, but when the band closed its short set with the monumental builds and resolution of "State of Non-Return," it sure seemed less about a hedonistic attempt to reach oblivion and a vague sense of inner peace than about reaching a state of transcendence. After the show people seemed more inspired and excited rather than sated. And that probably means it wasn't really a stoner rock show so much as just a truly engaging heavy rock performance.

Critic's Notebook

Bias: Been a longtime fan of Al Cisneros' various bands as well as those of Emil Amos and Robert Lowe.

Random Detail: Ran into Jacob Archuleta, formerly of Skully Mammoth, Dave Colberg of Little Fyodor and Babuska Band, Matty Clark of Zebroids and Tauntaun and Ben Romsdahl formerly of Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire at the show.

By the Way: Check out Holy Sons and Grails, Emil Amos's other bands as well as Robert Lowe's Lichens and 90 Day Men.

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