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Elder

support King Buffalo
author MIN date 17/07/17 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

A visit from the Boston, Massachusetts-based stoner rock band Elder is by no means a rare occasion, given the fact that they’ve played here twice within the past two years prior to tonight, yet I’ve only recently discovered the band myself. I’ve heard splendid things about the band’s prowess in a live setting, and their excellent discography, too, tells me that this is going to be a night to remember. As something new on this tour, the band’s added an extra member to their lineup, who’ll partake guitar-duties while also managing the band’s sound-effects, hopefully resulting in the atmospheric experience that the band’s latest album, ”Reflections of a Floating World”, promises. To help fill the stages around Europe on this trek, Elder’s brought Child from Australia and the New Yorkers in King Buffalo with them, and Pumpehuset’s small stage tonight is no exception. Unfortunately, due to late hours at my work, I won’t be reviewing Child as I couldn’t make it in time for their show, but luckily I arrived just in time to witness King Buffalo!

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank Thor Straten

King Buffalo

It’s honestly pretty darn impressive when a young band starts a show with nothing but a melodic guitar solo, but that’s exactly what King Buffalo does tonight. It’s atmospheric, slow and well-executed, and suddenly the rhythm-section joins in, adding some aim and foundation for the ominous “Orion”. The sound lusciously flows through the air, unhindered, raising hope for a great night. After a few minutes, however, it becomes clear that the band sticks to a formula, but as long as it sounds as good as this, it’s not really a problem when placed in a live setting. The air between every bouncing bassline certainly recalls the Australian prairie more than the North American plains on which the Buffalo runs, due to its didgeridoo-like sound and psychedelic rhythms, but it’s effective and gets heads banging through the room. The drummer follows the pace and the guitarist keeps differing between steady riffs and spontaneous soli, ultimately making for a pretty good time that gradually convinces the audience.

Although few words are said, the band shows gratitude towards the many people who’ve shown up early, and there’s constantly movement on-stage as either the guitarist or the bassist sways back and forth synchronically with the first few rows in front of them. Personally, I never feel taken aback or surprised by anything the band throw at me, but they’re all talented and especially the guitarist impresses me during the third song, “Sleeps on a Vine”, as he fiddles out a passionate solo that launches into a massive riff that demands collective headbanging. The set doesn’t stray much through the remaining songs, but the band’s relatively long set (a little less than an hour) never grows boring and only increases in intensity throughout. A great mixture of stoner rock, blues and psychedelic to get the beers flowing!

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Elder

The excellent sound mix during King Buffalo’s performance unfortunately doesn’t stick through the night, as it quickly becomes apparent that the sound guy and Elder aren’t in sync. The volume is so loud that my eardrums are about to pop (over-exaggeration may occur), and the tiny room simply can’t contain it. Gone are the finer nuances in the band’s songs, left are the ginormous riffs, bouldering bass and pulverizing drums blended into one thick murk; the barrel’s not about to burst, it’s already been blown to smithereens. Furthermore, Nick DiSalvo isn’t exactly an impeccable vocalist on the band’s records, which is honestly fine due to the instrumentation taking the front seat, but tonight the hollow sound of the microphone only highlights DiSalvo’s shortcomings. What was supposed to be a glorious night with one of the best modern stoner rock bands around is quickly becoming quite the letdown.

However, after the first initial disappointment, I try to find some solace in the situation: the crowd gathered here tonight are pumped and excited to see the band, there’s a nice and not completely sober atmosphere – which is always nice to experience on a Monday night – and the band’s charisma and crowd-interaction is charming; the band is well-aware that they’ve now been to Copenhagen thrice in two years, and there’s a reason why they keep coming back. The show starts with a hat trick of excellent songs off Elder’s latest album “Reflections of a Floating World” – “Sanctuary”, “The Falling Veil” and “Staving Off Truth” – and there’s a canvas behind the band with projections of images and animations to reflect the band’s strange universe and their increasingly more progressive and psychedelic detours.

Although I could now go on talking about how sad it is that I’m not able to fully take in the excellent chord-progressions, melodic breakdowns and grand finale of “Sanctuary”, I’d rather highlight the enormity and intensity of the band’s performance. Every member present tonight gives it their all, and the monstrous riffs upon riffs crushes everyone in the audience like a hammer on a mole. Elder’s songs do their best to never become homogenous by throwing a curveball now and then, and although everything’s not fully audible, they oftentimes have such drastic changes in sound that you’d be thick not to notice. The usually subtle bass-intervention in “Staving Off Truth” shakes the room, and the intense guitar solo in the middle of “Blind” sounds like lightning bolting through the wires. The playful guitar riff of “Compendium” off the band’s previous album ”Lore” and the sing-along of ”I’m coming home // It’s been so long // I’m coming home” in “Gemini” gets the crowd riled up, and once the set ends with “Thousand Hands” after almost 100 minutes in this tiny, boiling room, I’m still glad I stayed throughout the set despite its obvious flaws. Elder put on an impressive and passionate performance, it’s just too bad that Pumpehuset couldn’t handle them.

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