Monster Magnet

support Table Scraps + ¡pendej0!
author AP date 21/05/18 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Our busy period of shows continues with Monster Magnet’s return to Denmark — this time to play in Copenhagen rather than in Århus as last year. In between the two concerts, the stoner-rock veterans have put out a new record in the shape of “Mindfucker”, albeit not garnering the same level of praise for it as was the case with 2013’s “Last Patrol”. And in light of the lukewarm reception of the record, it is therefore not that surprising to discover the upstairs room at Pumpehuset far from its maximum capacity of 600 people even by the time the headliners walk onto the stage.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

¡pendej0!

Ever wondered what Bersærk would sound with trombone and trumpet, and sung in Spanish? If so, ¡pendej0! is your go-to band, playing what essentially amounts to Mariachi-stoner. In fact, once the first track of the evening starts rolling, it strikes me that in a way, this music quite sounds like the soundtrack to some unreleased Tarantino flick, with the brass section creating a sense of drama and deviousness. Beneath the brass, guitarist Arjan Er Juan and bassist Jaap Monchito lay down simple, yet hard-hitting riffs heavily based on the hammer-on/pull-off technique to complete a soundscape that has the crowd’s heads banging and feet moving from the very first note. The proceedings seem to grow more feverish as they go, with vocalist/trumpeter El Pastuso often using the microphone attached to his instrument for his singing as well, generating a series of deranged voice effects in between swigs of what I presume to be tequila from a hip flask. Indeed, the band is interesting and fun to watch live, offering a completely unique take on stoner metal and doing so with a glimmer in their eyes and their tongues firmly in cheek, and when the festivities eventually draw to a close with Monchito roaring “Fiesta!” to announce the final song, the volume of cheering and applause that overwhelms the venue suggests that ¡pendej0! will have earned plenty of new fans this evening. Once the songs themselves are bestowed with the same level of lasting value as the show on future releases, there will be serious potential for this Dutch outfit to make their mark on a genre so often limited by identikit bands with little novel to offer.

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Table Scraps

With Monster Magnet incorporating plenty of garage-rock into their latest album, it is no surprise to find a garage-rock band invited along for this tour. This British trio embodies the spirit of the genre with short, energetic and scruffy songs, and a showmanship in which there is hardly a still moment, particularly from guitarist/vocalist Scott Vincent Abbott. His instrument of choice — a single-neck, electric 12-string — produces plenty of ring and clang in the soundscape but, with the exception of some cool, psychedelic guitar solos and bass licks in the likes of “Motorcycle”, there is little in the music capable of producing lasting value. Those well-versed in the genre probably beg to differ, but it feels like the three musicians are not very interested in aesthetics or even hooks — they prefer for their tracks to charge ahead with relentless energy (only the slower, moodier “Bad Feeling”, with its “Enter Sandman”-esque intro diverges from the formula) and instead pour their heart and soul into the performance, which, admittedly, is on the wilder side. Still, it nags me that other garage-rock outfits such as Norway’s The Dogs are able to offer the best of both worlds — ultra-catchy tunes and crazy showmanship — while for Table Scraps, it seems to be either/or. The Birmingham-based band thus leaves me with a mixed impression and not much interest to dive into their material on record.

6

Monster Magnet

One never knows what to expect from Monster Magnet. My last club experience with the stoner rock legends saw the band play their 2013-album, “Last Patrol” front to back much to my dismay, while at Copenhell that same year, they had no enthusiasm to offer. Both concerts left a bitter aftertaste, and as such, it is not without an ounce of skepticism that I await the onset of the headliners’ first song of the evening. Would the quintet pull the same trick as four years ago and take us through the entirety of “Mindfucker”, their latest release? To my relief, the familiar crawling riff that opens the 1995-classic “Dopes to Infinity” assures me that this is not the case, and even more pleasing is the nerve with which that track is performed. The man, the legend, guitarist/vocalist Dave Wyndorf is in a gleeful mood, owning his role as the frontman with an attitude and energy that reminds me of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, while the two guitarists — Phil Caivano & Garrett Sweeny — surge forward to play their respective solos in our face. It feels like the band is aware of past mishaps and repaying the debt.

Vindictive renditions of “Rocket Freak” and “Soul” — both off the aforementioned “Mindfucker” LP — follow before Wyndorf & co. take us back to 2004’s “Monolithic, Baby!”, giving “Radiation Day” a long due airing. The more straightforward rocking style of this song is a good fit for a setlist dominated by the new material, not to mention a good opportunity for Caivano, Sweeny, Wyndorf, as well as bassist Chris Kosnik, to really let rip and brandish their instruments before spacing out during the guitar solo that concludes the song. If Monster Magnet played with this kind of gusto every time, it would be hard to argue with the people who insist that the band is still one of the best live acts in the genre. Everything seems to fall into place when the chords of an unprecedentedly pounding take on “Look to Your Orb for the Warning” (another 1995 classic) rain down, swiftly followed by a blast from 1993’s “Superjudge” in the form of “Dinosaur Vacume”. The songs are played virtually without a pause in between, which only strengthens my impression that Monster Magnet seems to be on a mission, hellbent to win back the adoration of their loyal disciples. The strategy seems to pay off, as not a soul inside the venue abstains from roaring “Space Lord, mother, mother!” during the climax off this revered piece off 1998’s “Powertrip”. And if only the band themselves had abstained from covering Robert Calvert’s “Ejection” in the encore and left it up to the following “End of Time” and the “Powertrip” title track to conclude the evening, it might have been pure euphoria.

Despite the heavy featuring of new songs on the setlist — entirely understandable of course, given that “Mindfucker” is still fresh out of the oven — the concert never feels skewed or imbalanced. The tracks chosen from that record fuse seamlessly with older material, unified by the sheer exuberance, intensity and coolness factor with which the band storms through the show. The Red Bank, NJ-based band has brought its A-game to Copenhagen this time, and as experience has taught us, when they are operating at that level, no one is going to go home with a grimace on her/his face.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Dopes to Infinity
  • 02. Rocket Freak
  • 03. Soul
  • 04. Mindfucker
  • 05. Radiation Day
  • 06. Look to Your Orb for the Warning
  • 07. Dinosaur Vacume
  • 08. When the Hammer Comes Down
  • 09. Negasonic Teenage Warhead
  • 10. Space Lord

— Encore —

  • 11. Ejection
  • 12. End of Time
  • 13. Powertrip

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