Monster Magnet

support The Drippers
author AP date 29/01/20 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

One could say that I’ve gone on a Powertrip tonight. Accompanied by one of our trusted photographers, I’ve crossed the Øresund bridge to Malmö to watch Monster Magnet bring to life their celebrated 1998 album at the Kulturbolaget venue, and judging by the banter around me, I am not the only Copenhagener to have done so; Danish is being spoken left, right and centre amongst the still primarily Swedish audience that has very nearly sold out Kulturbolaget, and as such, I feel right at home at this fantastic venue tonight. Having arrived somewhat tardy, I barely manage to secure a pint of Falcon beer from the bar before the lights turn dark and the warm-up band emerges from backstage. Duty calls…

All photos courtesy of Stefan Bruse thor Straten


The Drippers

Sometimes bands are difficult to pigeonhole, but this is not so in the case The Drippers. From their first blast of high-octane rock’n’roll, it is obvious that the Gothenburg-based trio worships Motörhead (they even offer up a cover of “Iron Fist” at one point during their set), and like their idols, they have no intention of slowing down or tempering their bombast. The three musicians seem to rejoice in expending energy, too, packing their performance during tracks like “Ready to Fall” and “Sweet Action” (both taken from the band’s 2019 début “Action Rock”) with lots of swagger and pulling out the full repertoire of moves immortalised by the classic rock bands of our time. But while the band’s enthusiasm and penchant for stitching together a decent riff are a joy to behold, it is also easy to understand why the crowd seems less keen on reciprocating that energy; the lack of variety in the music does render it quite monotonous after a while, with a couple of standout songs nestled in between. The first real instance of participation from the audience arrives in “Full Tilt Boogie”, as guitarist William Dickborn (whose name one hopes is a pseudonym…) manages to draw some “oh yeah!”’s from the frontmost spectators, but in general, the response the trio is getting is lacklustre at best. Indeed, while there are plenty of fist-pumping choruses and slick guitar solos loaded into these tracks, there simply isn’t enough diversity, let alone originality in the band’s music at present to justify a support set that clocks in at well past 40 minutes.

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Monster Magnet

After what seems like an unusually long changeover, the lights are finally dimmed at 9:20 p.m., and a roar is sent through the now-packed venue as the five musicians of Monster Magnet walk onto the stage one after the other. The band is celebrating their 1998 album “Powertrip” tonight, but it is neither played in full nor in order, meaning that “Atomic Clock” has the honour of kicking things off instead of “Crop Circle”. It is not long before the irresistible charisma of frontman Dave Wyndorf has won the entire crowd over, and by the time “Tractor” arrives with its off kilter rhythm and famous riffs, everyone seems to be either headbanging, singing along or both. The rest of the band is coming alive now too, finding that perfect balance between letting themselves go and looking ultra-cool — especially guitarist Phil Caivano, who is, of course, rocking a pair of shades as is his custom. I have seen Monster Magnet live enough times to know that the quality of their performances varies a lot depending on the occasion, but based on this first part alone, the show here is definitely turning out to be one of the better ones in my experience. It is almost impossible for a band to look as innately cool as Monster Magnet when “Crop Circle” is played at last, and feeling the band’s attitude, the entire audience is soon clapping along and reciprocating those gang-yells of “Yeah-eah!” in the final segment of the song.

The atmosphere inside the venue is starting to reach a fever pitch, which is helped along by the psychedelic reverb effect Wyndorf uses on his microphone during his between-song banter. And as such, the concert captures quite perfectly the nature of “Powertrip” — half rock’n’roll swagger, half drug haze. During the blues-ridden “Baby Götterdämerung”, Wyndorf’s vocals take on a nigh plaintive character, while in the subsequent “Bummer”, he suddenly imitates doggy-style sexual intercourse, laughs maniacally, and brandishes his guitar like a banner staff. It builds up to the familiar rallying call of “I’m never gonna work, another day in my life!” in the chorus of the title track, which seems to resonate particularly well with the audience, and is thus sung back in full force. So, too, is the staple “Space Lord”, which brings the ordinary set to a conclusion to the tune of another, resounding singalong, with people practically stumbling over one another to scream “Space lord, motherfucker!” in the chorus. The band then exits the stage with a well-deserved sense of self-importance before returning for an encore featuring music from other records, with especially the scorching groove of “Look to Your Orb for the Warning” (off 1995’s “Dopes to Infinite”) making a typically strong impact on the audience. Indeed, everyone seems to be in agreement when the concert ends: this has been a fantastic and nostalgic trip to revisit one of the world’s most iconic stoner rock albums, one which I’d gladly embark upon again at the earliest opportunity.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Atomic Clock
  • 02. Tractor
  • 03. Crop Circle
  • 04. Temple of Your Dreams
  • 05. 3rd Eye Landslide
  • 06. See You in Hell
  • 07. Baby Götterdämerung
  • 08. Bummer
  • 09. Powertrip
  • 10. Space Lord

— Encore —

  • 11. Twin Earth
  • 12. The Right Stuff (Robert Calvert cover)
  • 13. Look to Your Orb for the Warning
  • 14. Negasonic Teenage Warhead

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