“New York City!” hollered Valient Thorr’s captain, Valient Himself, with his back to the Sunday night crowd at the Mercury Lounge, extending his arms to the ceiling. “Let’s fucking party!” And then for the next 60 minutes, the denim-vested, beard-wielding band who claims to be extraterrestrials from Venus by way of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shredded in and out of Southern-clad sludge metal jams to a Yankee crowd. The “Thorr-ondevous” as the band likes to call it, had the energy of a Dixie Hoedown with plenty of booze, sweat and twangy guitar licks to go around.
The set sounded like a car chase: the raw, fuzzy rhythm guitar revved like a motor as the squealing lead skidded around turns, suggesting a lineage to Motörhead. After busting out of the gate with “Gillionaire” and “Goveruptcy,” Valient Himself quieted the crowd to declare that it was bassist Nitewolf’s birthday, demanding shots be rained upon him. After an abbreviated version of “Happy Birthday,” the band got back to it with “Mask Of Sanity.” The rock aliens bounced around the stage matching the frequent tempo changes reminiscent of swamp metal peers Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster.
As the sweat began to drip from Himself’s hair and red-tinged beard, he removed his shirt and vest, shamelessly displaying his beer belly. In true North Carolina style, after a shout out to Petey Pablo’s anthem “Raise Up,” he spun his shirt around “like a helicopter,” before defending his earth home against those who think poorly of the South. Amidst his rant, the band transitioned into “Night Terrors,” the insomnia-driven track off of 2010’s Stranger. During the song, the wild vocalist took to the crowd, divided it, sat himself and everyone down and gestured to join him in a rowing motion.
Valient Himself took his time between songs to offer wisdom to the headbanging onlookers. Before “Vision Quest” he demanded to those in attendance, “Get out of this city, get out of this state, get out of your fucking apartment!” Each song offered some sort of message, from the warning of betrayers in “Double Crossed” to the declaration to wake up in “Sleeper Awakes.” Himself even targeted the phonies who keep condemning the world to an end every few months before performing the finale “Eternal Universe.”
The show that started as a party also ended as one. Hardly leaving the stage, the band returned for the crowd’s demand of an encore—but not before it worked for it. Himself, unimpressed by the chants of “encore,” would not play another song until every person repeated after him in unison, “P-A-R-T-Y, we don’t need no alibi, we party!” When he was finally happy with the chant, he passed around high-fives and the partying continued for one last song.