Honest to God, I thought it was a gag, publicity stunt at best, when last year I saw that the premier performance of this Greek band in Serbia, Novi Sad, sold out. So much for me being as informed as I like to think I am. I was almost sure there was something wrong. Especially with such a name. My aversion towards the weird monikers is well documented.
So, when I realized there was no joke and Villagers Of Ioannina City are a force to be reckoned with, I got naturally curious. I gave them a chance. They took it, and in such a confident manner like it is rarely the case. Somewhere down the third minute of the first track off their first album, I was hooked. From then on, I only had to wait for them to return to Serbia where I will have a chance to rectify the mistake I made of not going to Novi Sad last year.
My expectations were met down to the last! These boys are not overly dynamic on stage, but they are absolutely convincing. Their music drives you, hypnotizes and forces you to sway in ritualistic fervor. Then there’s the energy… Oh, that supernova which fills every cubic inch of space with trembling light… Not only will you feel the thumping deep within your veins, you will hear the Villagers with each and every cell of your body. A Delphic experience, if you would allow me an ancient Greek connotation. A prophetic gaze at a stary sky that suddenly appears to a sense that isn’t equipped for it but is equally enthused by it.
The boys gave their all and the audience reciprocated. I mean, how could we not!? This was magic in a genre known for wasting it more often than not. And it’s not just the bagpipe, clarinet and whatnot. Those are, of course, an important part, but Villagers Of Ioannina City bring along so much more, even if peeled down to the bare essentials of stoner rock. Even more so, they’ve pushed a few dragging reggae ingredients later on, mesmerizing to a point where you can almost see your own aura dancing beside you.
I cannot really say how long was the set. Somewhere along the concert I lost track of how many songs were played, what was played and what I hoped will be played. The boys tore me down with ousting “Age of Aquarius” and “Dance of Night” within the first half an hour. After that, as far as I was concerned, they could’ve done whatever they wanted. Thankfully, with a reasonably small discography and reluctant as they were to leave the stage, the five Villagers went through a massive chunk of what they created so far. None was left unsatisfied!
Well, I was somewhat, but that was just because my paycheck was a day late, just enough so I don’t have the money I wanted to spend on a couple of CDs. Instead, I went for a patch. Next time, I guess. Maybe next year? Keeping in mind that the next year starts in just a couple of months.
Photo credit: Strahinja Rupnjak