Radio Moscow

support Kaleidobolt
author AP date 24/10/17 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

The weather may have turned truly autumnal, but there is plenty of colour and warmth to be found inside Spillestedet Stengade on this cold and rainy, windswept October evening. On the bill is a transatlantic union of heavy psychedelic rock — underground enough to feature in such intimate confines, but still with enough draw to lure a pretty decent-size audience out of the comfort of their homes and through the misery reigning outside. First on is the Finnish power trio Kaleidobolt and judging by the numbers here already, it seems that plenty of people are curious to find out if the venue’s hyping the band has been justified.

All pictures by Stefan Frank thor Straten

Kaleidobolt

It does not take many minutes for me to decide that Kaleidobolt deserves all of the accolades that have prematurely been offered them by the promoter. On stage, the trio bears an uncanny resemblance to Kadavar, with drummer Valtteri Lindholm stationed dead centre, and guitarist Sampo Kurki and bassist Marco Menestrina flanking him respectively on the left and right. And although the Finns distinguish themselves from the Germans by playing a fast, feverish and intense style of heavy psych not unlike an Atomic Bitchwax/Hawkwind hybrid rather than the doomy, classic hard rock of Kadavar, the way they carry themselves live seems to be inspired by Kadavar, too. With jazzy drumming, noodling basslines, and whirlwinds of scaling melodies and acidic solo freakouts aplenty, Kaleidobolt’s music is quite complex and technical, but this does not seem to be a hindrance for the three musicians to perform with a wild, almost possessed energy. The audience is visibly enthralled by this marriage of skilled musicianship and invigorating showmanship that so rarely succeeds, with many a patron immersed in groovy dancing or — when the songs enter one of the quieter, more evocative passages — in gentle, trancelike swaying.

A lot of the time, Kaleidobolt’s music almost sounds like three solos being played concurrently, as neither Kurki nor Menestrina has much of an affinity for riffs in the traditional sense, and Lindholm seldom settling for a simple percussion pattern. But there is space for each musician to shine on his own, too, with two spokes of the trident often receding in order to highlight the capabilities of one. Lindholm, for instance, delivers an improvisational drum solo at one point to thunderous applause, while Kurki seizes every opportunity to show off his fretwork when Menestrina deploys one of those iterating bass licks that are so essential to psychedelic rock having its desired, hypnotising effect. Kurki and Menestrina share the vocal duties, which means there is more texture to the singing than one is used to hearing in this genre; the former contributes with a gruff, Robert Plant-esque voice, while the latter adds a more esoteric, reverberating style. As also evidenced by the mix though, the vocals take a backseat in Kaleidobolt’s long, progressive compositions and never stand out as such. The highlights are instead found in marvelling at the technical prowess on display and getting energised by the tireless rocking out that the three musicians engage in throughout the 45-minute set. And by offering those in ample quantities, Kaleidobolt has no trouble etching itself into the fabric of my memory both as an intensely captivating live act, and as one of the most interesting psychedelic rock acts that have crossed my path.

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Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow thus has a mountain to climb if they are to better, or even just equal the performance given by their support band. In the vein of Blue Cheer, the trio subscribes to a more stripped down and riff-centric interpretation of the genre than Kaleidobolt. The band navigates the grey area that exists between heavy psych and stoner rock and has a visual aesthetic that is quite muted. Guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs and bassist Anthony Meier each stand in their own corner of the stage a few steps back from the audience, while drummer Paul Marrone is stationed centre-and-behind, often becoming completely obscured by the generous amount of dry ice smoke that the band likes to use. It doesn’t feel as intimate or intense as the previous show and honestly, for much of the concert Radio Moscow is at pains to make itself stand out from the ranks of other, similar artists practicing in their genre.

One thing that does strike me as awesome about the band already during the first two tracks, “New Beginning” and “Broke Down”, is their utilisation of analogue equipment and the warm, lo-fi sound that this produces. Indeed, the trio masters the art of transporting the audience back to a different time, when socialism was rife and Jimi Hendrix et al. steered the direction of rock music; when it was all about jamming out and just feeling it rather than trying to pen the perfect radio hit. Of those, Radio Moscow has none, but that does not mean that their songs are incapable of leaving a lasting impression; the alt country vibes and Griggs’ deployment of an electric 12-string guitar in the medley of “Brain Cycles” and “250 Miles”, and his eruptions of frenetic blues solo’ing in the final piece, “Dreams”, are both among lots of memorable moments throughout the hour-long concert. But even so, such highlights can do little to assuage the fact that, especially without much of a ‘show’ to accompany the tracks, the set does turn out somewhat undynamic overall.

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