Schlachthof, Weisbaden, Germany, Fri 21 Jun, 2019.
I first came across Victorian band Stonefield late one night on ABCs Rage when they were playing a great sounding bluesy rock act with a bunch of female players. I’d missed the title to find out who the band was, and in the days before I had Shazam (not that it would have helped much with an independent Aussie band anyway!), I had to resort to trawling the Rage playlists on the ABC website to discover that the band was Stonefield, and that they had a self-titled album out. Needless to say, I managed to get a copy of the album, and have been proud to call myself a fan ever since!
Fast forward to the present, and the band has released a swag of other albums and are really starting to build a reputation across the globe, backed by relentless touring in the US and Europe and a work ethic rarely seen these days. How fortunate it was to see that they were playing in Europe at the same time I would be there, so I made sure that both Stonefield and I would be in Weisbaden, a small town in south-central Germany, on the same night… and on the eve of the Summer Solstice!
The venue was a grungy little music hall, perhaps previously a train station, workshop or other industrial building and had the perfect motif for a great night of music. Up first was a Swiss band, The Velvet Two Stripes; a four piece with an all-female front line on bass, guitars and vocals, playing some killer bluesy rock tunes. There was plenty of musical grunt on offer, with thumping blues and often psychedelic riffs, backed by tough vocals. Despite having never heard of them before, I was head-banging away in no time, joining in with the enthusiastic German crowd. There’s a bit of White Stripes-esque blues prowess there, with touches of Zeppelin and Clapton, voiced through a modern and fresh mouthpiece, the band provided instant enjoyment. I liked it so much, I even bought the CD! Hopefully we hear more of these guys soon so that Aussie audiences can also enjoy! In the meantime, there’s the internet…
With such a great act to warm things up, I was pumped to finally get to see Stonefield for the first time! The four sisters took the stage and I was immediately enthralled. Fuzzy, thick and heavy guitars rang out, peppered with raunchy organ sounds and thumping Bonham-esque drums, with so much space between bass and snare that you can’t but help be drawn into the thumping void. With ‘70s style ‘uniforms’, the band was tight-as, and clearly operating as a functioning unit. Singer and drummer Amy commanded attention from the back of the stage, with a vocal style that is completely unique among her female vocal contemporaries (read: ‘so much better!’), while the rest of the band proceeded to please.
A few days before the gig, the band dropped their latest long player, Bent, an album that takes a decided leap into the dark, heavy side of psychedelic blues, with dark and mysterious themes and sounds, much darker than the band’s prior albums. While I’d not heard any of the new material prior, Stonefield did a great job convincing me to buy the new album (let’s face it, I was going to anyway!), as they played a set heavily loaded with new tunes. Interestingly, while the music feels much darker than previously, there’s also a more melodious side to things too, with keyboards featuring more prominently here, adding a sense of light and shade to the dark heavy riffs.
The band clearly did a great job on the crowd, as I was certainly not alone bopping away down the front, and was joined by plenty of German rock music fans. I dare say that having been a Stonefield fan for the last five years, and an Aussie, I may have been the most familiar with the band and their music, but the band was able to garner as much enthusiasm from the rest of the crowd too, which was impressive to see.
Clearly, Stonefield are a band that is going places, providing a tight show and dropping a killer new album only a year since their last Far From Earth. I can’t wait to see them play again… this time, hopefully a bit closer to home! Their new album Bent is available now.
Image courtesy of Luke Balzan