Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Elephant Stone [2012]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Elephant Stone @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 2012

Artist: Elephant Stone
When: November 28th, 2012
Where: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa
Context: I got to see Elephant Stone for a second time in late 2012 at the legendary, but sadly now defunct, Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa’s Byward Market. The four-piece psychedelic indie rock band out of Montreal, led by bass/sitar player, Rishi Dhir, took to the stage in a blaze of swirling, psychedelic guitars. It was as if the doors to Zaphod’s were thrown open and instead of crisp wintry cold, wafts of fresh and warm summer air breezed through the room. Even though they started off their set with a couple of newer tracks, there was still a familiarity that pervaded their sweet sixties-influenced sound and I couldn’t help but allow a smile to creep on to my face. From the Polaris prize-nominated debut album, “The seven seas”, Dhir and company breathed fresh life into personal faves, “How long?”, the title track, and the elegantly epic, “Don’t you know”. They also introduced the crowd to eagerly anticipated new material from their sophomore album, that was due out the following February, including the latest single “Heavy moon” (the namesake for that particular tour), which only whet my appetite for more.
Point of reference song: Love the sinner, hate the sin

Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone
Miles Dupire-Gagnon on drums
Stephen ‘The Venk’ Venkatarangam and Gabriel Lambert
Miles and Rishi
Gabriel Lambert and Miles Dupire-Gagnon
Rishi with the sitar

Best tunes of 2020: #28 Elephant Stone “Hollow world”

<< #29    |    #27 >>

Elephant Stone is a Montreal-based psych-rock quartet that was formed by bassist and sitar player Rishi Dhir back in 2008. I got into them pretty much right from the start because I loved Dhir’s work with The High Dials* and was more than a little sad when I heard he had left that group.

Elephant Stone’s 2009 debut album, “The seven seas”, had me sold immediately and had me trying to convince all of my other friends to give the band a go as well. I got to see them live at the now defunct Zaphod Beeblebrox here in Ottawa back in 2010 and then, three years later, I saw Dhir perform live onstage with Beck at Montreal’s Osheaga festival. Indeed, Dhir’s sitar work is well known and sought after in the psych rock circles and he’s collaborated, either live or in studio, with the likes of The Horrors, The Black Angels, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the aforementioned Beck. He even created a psych-rock supergroup of sorts called MIEN and released one self-titled album in 2018, that included the work of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham.

But I’ve strayed off course a bit here. Rishi Dhir is the driving force behind Elephant Stone but he’s also always had a great team behind him. Each of the group’s five albums have been critically acclaimed, and each has told a different story. On their 2020 album, “Hollow”, Dhir and his band are reaching out to a dystopian world of disconnected and unhappy souls, one that was inspired by the impacts on our society by social media.

“We long to feel less empty inside our hollow world
These hollow days bring so much hurt”

These are words from the opening track, “Hollow world”, but if you weren’t paying attention, you could be forgiven for thinking the message more uplifting than that. The song is a dreamy and technicolour piece of paradise, one that refracts blinding shards of light in all directions. Much like the best of Elephant Stone, this smacks of what The Beatles might’ve been had George Harrison had more sway at the height of his Indian classical music fascination. It is bright pop and sounds young, joyful and hopeful, especially when Rishi brings out his daughter Meera Skye Dhir to join him on vocals to close things out. Genius.

*Another excellent Canadian indie rock outfit out of Montreal with a psych rock influenced sound.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.