Did we decide on an impromptu trip to Alberta just to see a Mongolian Folk Metal band? Maybe. Did we decide this after missing out on the 2019 shows that hit Canada? Definitely a possibility. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Formed in 2016, The Hu are a Mongolian Folk Rock & Heavy Metal Band. They use traditional Mongolian instruments including the Morin khuur and the Tovshuur and even incorporate Mongolian throat singing into their songs. Other inclusions are Mongolian war cries, and poetry that has been incorporated into the lyrics of many of their songs.
After the popularity of their tracks “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem” on YouTube after their release in 2018 the garnered worldwide domination in a fanbase that seemingly grew overnight. After earning numerous awards throughout their country in 2019 for deeds such as promoting their culture, and embracing tourism, they conquered Europe on tour, and set their sights overseas.
After a successful North American kick, the pandemic seemed to strike everyone, including The Hu, pushing their performances and releases online.
A number of months rushed by and finally they were able to return to North America in September and October of 2021 – which is where I come in! With dates spanning more of Western Canada, the decision was to be had. Do I, and a few friends, make the trip to Alberta or BC to see the uniqueness that is The Hu? You’re damn right!
So, it was off to Edmonton, Alberta! Of course, we took in some tourism while there like WEM, which is a must see but, our sights were still on seeing The Hu at a venue called Midway.
This was a Sunday night show at a venue known for both live music, as well as its normal nightclub atmosphere. Proof of vaccination, of course, was a must alongside regular tickets and we met a lot of folks in line, and in the venue, from different areas of Canada which was quite interesting. Midway is a sizable venue, with perfect visibility lines from bar to show floor. It also had a TON of parking at the venue and along side streets without Toronto-like warnings of no parking between this time and this time, or loading areas, and so on which made our lives much easier.
Start times were delayed for both bands, resulting in a pushed end time of around 11pm but, most folks didn’t seem to mind, nor did the venue or its hosts dampen the mood at all by pushing for an end to the performance.
The Haunt began the show with some pop-punk, alt-metal vibes I hadn’t really paid attention to in years. For me, it was more of the shoulder dancing type of rhythm reminiscent of bands like Paramore and Metric. It definitely wasn’t my jam but, a few seemed to really enjoy them there and they did put on one hell of a stage show with lively performance from one end of the stage to another; never once did they seem to lose energy.
When The Hu finally took the stage, the energy was next level. Chants for “HU! HU! HU!” penetrated even the strongest ear plugs as the crowd erupted into cheer when the lights came up. Energy moved from front row all the way to seating in the back with young and old united with fists in the air and howls in the night.
‘Shoog Shoog’ opened the night with the audience immediately latching on and singing along. Their embrace of their Canadian fans was heart-warming with constant ‘thank yous’ and acknowledgements that had the crowd up in the clouds. The setlist was long, at a 14 track set with an encore song coming in at #15; it was a mixture of new and old, with the older favourites like ‘Yuve Yuve Yu’ and ‘Wolf Totem’ coming in closer to the end of the night. This, of course, made me happy, as Wolf Totem is my favourite track of theirs, and both band and crowd belted out the lyrics seamlessly in unison.
What surprised me was when they began the instrumental for ‘Black Thunder’, also known as ‘Sugaan Essena’ from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It’s a lighter, more ethereal track that I didn’t think would make it to the setlist due to its abstract tune beyond the others but, it made it in and I was ecstatic! It was a beautiful live performance with every note harmonized on stage just as it had been in studio.
The end of the night was brought to a full close with their cover of Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ – in Mongolian! While I’m no Metallica fan, their version is definitely one to listen to for its unique tones and small adjustments that make it all their own.
The Hu are true masters of their craft with energy, acknowledgement, and talent above all. If I’ve ever thought of making a trip across country to see a band play live, I definitely hold no regrets that it was The Hu that I did it for.
Favourite songs from the night: Wolf Totem, Sugaan Essena, and Shoog Shoog
For more pictures from that evening; check them out in the Gallery