TVD Live Shots:
The Hu with
Al Lover at Baltimore
Soundstage, 9/29

On a warm early autumn night, music fans of all stripes piled into Baltimore Soundstage to witness the arrival of The Hu, fresh from Mongolia, embarking on their first tour of the US. Al Lover acts as support on the tour, warming up crowds with psychedelic electronica.

Los Angeles based Al Lover opened the gig with his psychedelic and experimental electronic music. Lover has, since 2013, released a variety of projects while collaborating with multiple artists and touring extensively. His latest album, Existential Everything, was released in February, 2019. The appreciative crowd bobbed along with the beats as Lover wove a sonic web during his set, setting the tone for the headliner.

It appears the last year has been a bit of a whirlwind for The Hu. In the fall of 2018, videos for “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem” were released on YouTube; as of this writing the two have garnered about 43 million views. In contrast, the population of Mongolia is just over three million.

Mixing the modern and the traditional is what The Hu really excels at here. The band consists of four core members, standing shoulder to shoulder at the front of the stage, and are backed by a touring band who play percussion, bass, and a Les Paul guitar, as western music fans would all recognize. Less recognizable is the traditional instrumentation of the core members.

Galbadrakh “Gala” Tsendbaatar and Enkhasaikhan “Enkush” Batjargal play the morin khurr (the horsehead fiddle), a two-string instrument played with a bow. Temuulen “Temka” Naranbaatar plays the tovshuur, a three-stringed lute. Finally, Nyamjantsan “Jaya” Galsanjamts takes on throat-singing, singing melodically, and playing the jaw harp and wood-carved flutes. This mixing of old and new extends to appearances, as the men mixed beads and flowing robes with boots, jeans, and their own band shirts. Hell of a sight to behold.

The band opened with the war chant of “Shoog Shoog”; their songs tell stories about Genghis Khan, but also touch on Eastern spirituality and ancestral roots. The band calls their style of music “hunnu rock,” Hu being a Mongolian root word for “human.” While the band is often described as metal, their sound has folk elements and even the occasional pop beat, and during their set I occasionally heard blues and even country. The sound is not just one thing.

Regardless, The Hu rock hard and the crowd was there for it, chanting “Hu Hu Hu” throughout the set. The only English spoken by the band was “thank you so much” and “we love you.” All other communication was in the band’s native tongue, and met with cheers and chanting by the audience, once again demonstrating that music is a universal thread binding humans together.

Seasoned metalheads, grandparents, younger people, children—everyone showed up for this gig and willingly submitted to the band’s skill and enthusiasm. After the show the band stuck around a bit for photos; it seemed nearly half the venue got in line for a chance to get a snapshot with them. It was a mob scene.

My attempts to maintain some objectivity will fail me here. Go see The Hu. Don’t wait around to get tickets; they’re selling out shows everywhere. It’s a unique opportunity to see a band representing an ancient culture that also plays catchy, heavy music. It’s one hell of a good time.

The Hu tour the U.S through December 2; they kick off their European tour January 15 in Hamburg, Germany.

AL LOVER

THE HU SETLIST
Shoot Shoog
The Same
The Gereg
The Song of Women
The Legend of Mother Swan
Uchirtai Gurav
Shireg Shireg
Bii Biyley
Yuve Yuve Yu
Wolf Totem
The Great Chinggis Khan
Black Thunder
This is the Mongol

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