Whitehorse at Yucca Tap Room 6/27/12

White Horse Yucca Tap Room Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I feel I should mention this is the first show I've ever worn earplugs to.

Why? Because as three of my friends can demonstrate, the dangers of tinnitus are very real, you guys! Also, because nothing would help me from being such a Nancy boy in this crowd, even though I wore a shirt with the word "motherfucker" on it. Being at a metal show is serious business.

I tried to fit in, but it was as difficult as finding online info about Whitehorse. There are a few groups with the same name, including a folk duo from Canada and White Horse (note the space) who remix Tupac and Biggie tracks to sound like horror movie soundtracks, not to mention the White Horse Gospel Band from Wichita Falls, TX.

But I was here for Whitehorse, from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, who play the kind of spacey, doom metal that occupy primitive, pagan rituals in your nightmares.

Honestly, the name Whitehorse doesn't strike the same chords as other sludge metal acts like Acid Bath, Fudge Tunnel, Cancer Bats or Bongzilla. You just don't get the same volume of fear or disgust from a name that evokes the transportation of Gandalf.

I asked lead singer/growler Peter Hyde about this and he said his band name "ruins Google searches," but he doesn't "give a fuck." He likes the L.A. hip hop remixers, but isn't interested in the Canadians and Taylor Swift (who wrote a song titled "White Horse") can "go fuck herself." Whitehorse has been around for eight years, Hyde added, implying they aren't going anywhere.

I had a few band name suggestions, but didn't get a chance to pitch them to the band. They are Cervical Tumor, Puppy Bacon, Septic Worms and Salmonella. None of these band names are taken, by the way -- I checked. So if Whitehorse doesn't adopt them, feel free to take them yourself. You're welcome.

Anyway, there are a lot of different ways to describe Whitehorse, as every member once explored the many different branches of metal from electronic grindcore to pure harsh noise, but Whitehorse firmly describe itself as "sludge."

And god, what a wonderful genre name that is, perfectly capturing how slow and disgusting metal riffs like this can be. When Whitehorse took the stage, they commanded it, getting the crowd enthralled in a sort of worship, raising hands twisted in rigor mortis fashion, bobbing their heads in unison with snarling bass and savage guitar. It was a testament to total depravity and it was delicious.

It lasted for a good while and a mosh pit even broke out toward the end. I live for mosh pits, even though I nearly lost a shoe and I was clutching a pretty expensive camera that didn't belong to me. But the crowd and I had one thing in common - we wanted to bruise ourselves to the thrash of metal until we were nothing but sweat.

Then, Hyde threw down his mike, adorned a fanny pack and leapt from the stage. Cries for "One more song!" went unheeded. It was over as quickly as it started.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Whitehorse at Yucca Tap Room.

Personal Bias: My metal tastes extend as far as Tool (feel free to ridicule me) but a good show is a good show and Whitehorse had style. Loved the beards, too. if only I could grow one that tangled and dark.

The Crowd: Heavily tatted folks wearing torn black t-shirts lettered in pulp horror fonts with grotesque, faded faces beneath. And when they moshed for approximately three minutes, they meant business.

Overheard in the Crowd: (On how to dance to mariachi music played between sets) "Pretend like you're holding two Coronitas and you're stepping on ants."

Special thanks to: The Californian girl that helped my friend when he locked his keys in the car. Having a multipurpose tool keychain is metal -- literally.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah