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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Young Hunter to bring their enigma to HoCo Fest

    Press Photo
    Press Photo

    Despite the pressure of being one of several local musicians representing Tucson’s music scene this Friday at HoCo Fest, Young Hunter’s Benjamin Blake doesn’t seem too worried about where his band fits into it all. “I guess we don’t heavily identify with any particular side of the music scene here,” Blake says of Young Hunter’s unique sound that falls somewhere between doom, stoner metal, and indie psychedelic. “The great thing I’ve found since coming to Tucson, though, is that the people here are really open to so many different things. Those who are into music are just so easygoing and cooperative.”

    He is hardly alone in that sentiment. Perhaps the most incredible thing about the appreciation that local musicians like Blake have for Tucson’s music scene is that the venues here are just as invested in fostering the local community as its musicians are.

    This Friday marks the start of the four-day HoCo music festival at downtown Tucson’s Club Congress. HoCo fest is only one example of a big-name venue showing its support for bands like Young Hunter. While those unfamiliar with the local scene will still likely recognize headlining bands like The Tallest Man on Earth or Wild Nothing, the festival is giving equal attention to the locals this year, with Tucson musicians taking the stage each of the four days.

    “The festival is truly local and national intermingled,” says Blake, reverently calling Club Congress and its stock in the local scene part of the “next echelon of clubs doing music.”

    While Young Hunter is surely to be counted among the best and most interesting groups of Tucson’s current scene, it’s still slightly humbling that a venue as well-known as Club Congress would give them the closing slot of HoCo’s first day.

    It’s true that for a band as unique as Young Hunter, it can sometimes be difficult to find a consistent audience as its music doesn’t fit the local indie or punk scenes.

    The genesis of Young Hunter invokes the idea of isolation. According to Blake, the songs that would go on to grace Young Hunter’s full-length debut Stone Tools were first conceived while Blake was still living in northern California.

    Despite the genre tags on Young Hunter’s bandcamp page that range from “nomadic psychedelic stoner rock” to “doom,” Blake explains that the project was originally conceived as a metal band. Though he lacked an electric guitar of his own, Blake was sporadically able to record his metal ideas whenever he could get his hands on an electric guitar, a drumset and a digital recording machine.

    While many of the songs were first composed this way, Blake is the first to admit that the Young Hunter sound and aesthetic didn’t quite come together until he moved out to Tucson two and a half years ago. “There’s something about the natural and historical aspects of the desert that really [inspire] the way in which the band puts together the sound. There’s an ominous quality to it.”

    Indeed, the ominous quality extends past the band’s desert-tinged lyrics and doom guitars into its live sets. Young Hunter is a seven-piece ensemble, equipped with three guitarists and two drummers that provide lead vocalist Blake and co-founder Julia DeConcini with a gigantic sound, at once both haunting and foreboding.

    Since the release of the groups cassette/online single “Children of a Hungry World” in June 2011, its musical style and live presence have yielded only good things for Young Hunter, with the band playing just about every month in addition to a west coast tour this past summer.

    Yet Blake explains that the band’s uniqueness, which is enjoyed and supported by the Tucson music scene, more difficult to reconcile in other places.

    “It was interesting on tour, because every night we got a different response depending on what kind of show we were playing. You know, we kind of thought of ourselves as metal, but indie people really seemed to like us. Then sometimes the metal crowd responded well.”

    The lack of harsh genre divisions in Tucson, indicated not only by Hoco Fest’s lineup but also by other events like the Brootal Sun Fest, has, in Blake’s mind, helped distinguish Tucson as an ideal place for a truly thriving music scene.

    “Compared to most other places I’ve been, Tucson is just a cooperative place,” says Blake. “It’s a great place to be making music. We couldn’t do what we’re doing anywhere else.”

    It’s this spirit that makes aspects of Tucson culture, such as the HoCo Fest, so exceptional. When you come to Club Congress this weekend, make sure to check the schedule because the festival events take place in both the indoor and outdoor sections of Club Congress. After 9 p.m. the indoor section is open only to those over 21.

    Take it from Benjamin Blake: “Tucson has such a unique music community. As long as you’re out here, go explore it.”

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts

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