Earthless

support Måneskjold
author BV date 29/10/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

Catching California’s loudest band in the live setting is quite a rare feat here in Copenhagen. At least it is for me, as this marked my first time witnessing the mighty Earthless. Even though their gig was scheduled on a weekday at Loppen, it seemed like a no-brainer to go – even if it would end up in me becoming less-than-functional the following day. As I entered Loppen I was surprised to see a relatively large crowd gathering in front of the stage to witness the support band of the night. Without much hassle I suddenly found myself among them.

All pictures by Peter Troest

Måneskjold

I’m no stranger to the support band of the evening. Having been able to follow Måneskjold since their inception, I’ve been intrigued to say the least. However, this night also marked my first time seeing them in the live setting due to my poor timing and their less than frequent gig activity. Måneskjold contains members from Gaia, The Hedgehogs, Doublestone and other bands and, as such, the quality of the musicianship and the collective experience of the band can hardly be disputed. As they opened their set with an aggressive, droning riff it became evident that Måneskjold favor a punk-tinged version of space-rock which relies heavily on a mixture of fast-paced riffs and spacious effects via echoing guitars and trippy theremins.

Early in their brief 30-minute set, Måneskjold had, quite surprisingly, gotten most of the crowd’s attention as they launched into a potential “hit” in the form of “Hun Bor I En Jernpyramide”. As far as space-punk goes, this song has everything needed to remain on the fine border between acid-fuelled mayhem and tangible pop-sensibility as its strong hook and its memorable chorus serves as anchors for which the track remains solidly grounded. Something similar could easily be said in relation to “Kometen Kommer” – a song which is ”about impending doom and stuff” according to the band’s vocalist. Although not entirely tight as a unit yet, and in spite of a strange mix which seemed to favor one particular guitar over the other two, Måneskjold showed potential that, if properly developed, could be extremely fascinating.

7

Earthless

Following the usual changeover, Earthless took the stage. ”Hello… We’re Earthless and stuff!” was one of the scarce, yet humorous remarks from the band before they ventured into their signature brand of free-flowing, seemingly endless barrage of instrumental, heavy rock. Hinting in the general direction of everything from Hendrix through Hawkwind, Earthless exemplified the epitome of a jam-band – constantly reading each other’s musical whims and going off on that tangent, only to fall back into a slightly more familiar setting before eventually taking off into space once more. By positioning drummer Mario Rubalcaba at the very front of the stage, the energy level provided by Earthless was quite intense from the get-go – blasting flurries of intricate drumming right in the faces of the crowd in a relentless pursuit of total sonic domination. With bassist Mike Eginton providing a significant amount of low-end to the mix, the grooves of his improvised bass-lines seemed to flow seamlessly throughout the sonic space, constantly clicking with Rubalcaba’s eclectic and forceful drumming.

No fully cohesive unit is complete if one member does not entirely click with the remaining unit; fortunately this is not the case with Earthless. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is just as much at peace with his instrument as Rubalcaba and Eginton are with theirs – constantly resulting in lengthy improvisations that are not only groovy as hell, but also highly melodic in the sense that one never really tires of them. The main vice of improvised instrumental music is that most people tend to view it as self-indulgent instrument masturbation. With Earthless, I’d beg to differ. Every single piece of improvisation possesses the same immediate energy and allure as a traditionally structured song and although the length drastically exceeds what most have come to expect via pop music, minutes seem to pass by as mere seconds whilst the groove completely absorbs the listener. It is, in itself, an impressive feat to play non-stop improvised instrumental rock for 90 minutes or so – however, it is an entirely different, and all the more commendable thing to be able to maintain the collective interest of the crowd throughout that particular duration. Earthless really is a truly unique experience – and the part about being California’s loudest band is quite possibly true. - At least judging from the persistent ringing in my ear a full day later.

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