April 15th 2013 was my first interaction with the Brooklyn based band Hunters. They were opening for Bleached. I didn’t know too much about either band other than I’d heard good things and that the show would probably be loud as hell. I had the offer of a free ticket and I like loud guitars so I was in. Hunters took the stage and proceeded to bowl me over with a ferocious set. Pounding drums, howling guitars, thumping bass and a singer bouncing all over the stage that seemed incapable of standing still for even a second. Having never heard a note of their music at the time I was completely in awe of what I saw that night back in April. I had no idea what I was getting to when I went to the show, but I was more than happy to have left the venue with a new band to obsess over.
Four months later to the day, Hunters rolled into Bottletree again for their second ever performance in the state of Alabama, this
time opening for Hunx & His Punx. In the previous four months I’d listened to their five-song Hands on Fire EP countless times while eagerly awaiting the release of their first full length. Driving to the venue I had a semi-panicked thought: “What if the magic of that first show was because they were totally unknown to me? What if it’s not as good the second time around because I know what to expect?”
That line of thinking was a fool’s errand to say the least. After an excellent opening set from The Shrine Brothers, it was finally time for Hunters to take the stage. With a few chords from Derek Watson’s guitar
punishing my eardrums in the most delightful way possible, all doubt melted away and I settled in for an excellent set that featured songs off of Hands on Fire as well as material from their forthcoming self-titled LP (due out 9/25 digitally and 10/8 in physical formats on Mom and Pop Music.)
Hunters combine some of the best elements of Bleach-era Nirvana with the wailing of Sonic Youth without sounding derivative. They wear their influences on their sleeve, but they synthesize their influences instead of imitating them. Watson sings in addition to playing guitar and his back and forth vocals with Isabel Almeida work wonderfully. They’re as much of a visual tour de force as they are an aural one. Watson jumps off amps and violently creates feedback against his amps while Almeida hops, spins, kicks and convulses across the stage like a woman possessed. The rhythm section is tight as hell too.
The crowd this time for Hunters seemed much more vocal and appreciative than for their debut. I talked to more than a few people at the show that showed up expressly to see them (the show was taped for a future episode of We Have Signal.) It wouldn’t surprise me to see them headline Bottletree in the near future. They certainly seem to be fans of Birmingham too. At one point during the show Almeida stated, “This is our favorite place to play ever,” a well-documented sentiment shared by quite a few national and international bands. I also briefly spoke with Watson after the show and he made it a point to emphasize how lucky we are as a city to be able to see shows at a place like Bottletree all the time. Here’s hoping Bottletree, Birmingham and Hunters have a long, healthy relationship together.
Here’s a video of them playing “Deadbeat” live: