Mongolian Hunnu Rock heroes The Hu, brought their Black Thunder Tour to the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville TN, on May the 9th. The tour kicked off on April 15th in Indigo, California aka Coachella, and will resume on May 31st in Mexico City.
As a Nicaraguan, I am used to consuming all genres of music in all languages. So it was natural for me to be one of the millions whose minds were blown away back in 2018 by The Hu’s YouTube video “Yuve Yuve Yu”. For some, The Hu and their music might be completely alien. Yet guttural singing is one of the oldest forms of music and has been used by ancient cultures around the world in religious rituals, entertainment, and even as nursery songs. I first became acquainted with this style of music in 2014 by way of another Mongolian band named Altan Urag. You probably know them too! The film Mongol 2007 featured their music, and so did the Nextflix series Marco Polo 2014.
Mondays are not what I consider prime nights for metal concerts, especially when the prior week I attended shows every single night. But I have been waiting for The Hu since they announced their tour. It took everything in me to gather the strength to get ready after a full day of working, but I did it. I entered the venue and The Haunt was performing their second to the last song. I do not know much about the band, but I instantly regretted not being there earlier to see their entire set. A female-fronted rock band with incredible energy is what I needed to be pumped and ready to rock. I made my way to the pit and encountered many familiar faces at the venue, people who liked me had an epic week of concerts.
The band took the stage and the crowd, myself included, began to chant, “Hu! Hu! Hu!” Leather jackets, heavy boots, skull-shaped jewelry, and striking instruments that I have never seen before were on display and instantly pulled me into another world. About 8 million people in the world speak Mongolian as their mother tongue. Yet, The Hu’s first YouTube video has more than 90 million views. It’s as if we recognize in their music the sounds of our past. There is something magnetic about this band. When they began to sing, I felt something in my stomach, like butterflies.
Remember how tired I was? Well, that was gone within the first 30 seconds of the mesmerizing drum beats. With each pulse of the drums, my back became lighter and my achy shoulders were finally relaxed. The percussion in this band alone is fantastic. Of course, every other instrument here is masterfully played. The Mongolian fiddle looks badass and sounds amazing. I was fixed on the fiddle player and had to remind myself to move and photograph other band members. All the instruments were striking. And the heavenly sound of the flute played by a long-haired devil-angel is enough to make all your worries fade.
The deep roots and rich culture of throat singing are probably what makes this band so popular inside Mongolia and around the globe. It’s a primal sound that was probably constant during a time long ago when our ancestors sat by the fire and looked at the stars. As if in a trance, we seemed to understand what the band was singing. Some had teary eyes, some had ear-to-ear smiles, some closed their eyes and opened their arms as if embracing the music, and some of us fist-pumped the air, head-banged, and screamed sounds that we did not understand.
One thing that stood out for me was that the band’s “crew” were all dancing and singing by the soundboard. They danced and sang as if it was the first time they saw the band.
I left the venue energized and with a hunger to learn about the vast culture of Mongolia and The Hu‘s music. They are a band that has to be seen live to truly experience the richness of their music.