Rival Sons

support Pet The Preacher
author PP date 15/11/11 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Usually when venues go bankrupt and re-open a year later with new owners and after some renovation, we are treated to maybe a new paint job or a pentagram on the middle of the dance floor. Large scale modifications just don't happen. So it is all the more interesting to see Pumpehuset completely re-invent themselves with a brand new secondary stage where the main entrance and bar area used to be. Upstairs is still as we remember it from last year, capable of hosting nearly 600 people on a sold out night, which has limited the band profiles Pumpehuset have been able to book in the past to only the bigger names within each genre. And here's why the new second stage is such a smart idea: with a capacity of 200, maybe 250 people, and a distinct showcase feel to its setup and size, it opens a wealth of possibility for Pumpehuset to expand their musical offering and compete with venues like Loppen and Lille Vega for the small to medium-sized shows. Granted, the place is still VERY much a work-in-progress with construction equipment lying all over the place, questionable lighting and heating system, but give it a couple of months and we'll have a great 'new' Copenhagen venue available.

Pet The Preacher

The opening honors tonight were dealt to Pet The Preacher, a brand new stoner / progressive rock band from Copenhagen. It's an uphill battle for them as the audience has no idea who they are, but they slowly win over parts of the audience through their rock star appeal. Here I'm thinking about their vocalist in particular, who owns a great voice with a little bit of grunge in his tone. He's shirtless, and exhibits a rock star vibe in the classic sense of the ideal, whether it's through his demeanor during the songs or how the guitar seems to be an extension of his soul as he pours his heart into the lengthy instrumental sections that dominate the band's set. Groove and stoner rock are the name of the game for Pet The Preacher, which works fine on a couple of songs, but it's awfully clear that they are at such an early stage of their career that they do not yet have enough good songs to keep an audience interested for the entirety of their set. The potential is there, however, as displayed by the final song with a great guitar line that's followed note-by-note by an equally solid bass. We'll have to wait with judgement until later.


Rival Sons

This might be the last chance to see Rival Sons at a tiny venue like this with a private showcase feel before the band explodes into the arena sized stages. Nothing less can be expected when your vocalist owns a golden throat so authentic that the 70s came calling and wanted to know if time had gone into a stand-still since then. But perhaps more importantly, Rival Sons are an archetypical rock'n'roll band in every meaning of the word. Not only does their vocalist look like the kind of out-of-control rapscallion fathers are afraid their daughters will fall for, but the entire band looks and acts every bit of rock'n'roll as you've seen it in the movies. This, my friends, is Los Angeles rock at its purest, and rest assured Rival Sons really mean it even though their stage personas might appear gimmicky to some.

The band simply ooze of original rock'n'roll vibe, whether it's caused by the harmonica solos of the singer, the constant guitar lifting during soloing (no room for other movement, really), or the older material that recalls classic southern hard rock like Sweet Home Alabama, albeit in a slower and more bluesy fashion. At one point the singer even goes on at length to talk about the importance of soul behind songs and bands. But where the venue is really won over is when vocalist Jay Buchanan executes, get this, a vocal solo. Not a guitar solo or a drum solo, but a lengthy demonstration of just what kind of pipes we are dealing with here, completely a cappella, doing scales with his voice, going faster, slower, and everything else you'd normally expect from an instrumental solo. If the band appeared a little dull and uninteresting until this point, mostly because the older songs that were aired are simply no match for "Pressure & Time" material, then this part energizes the crowd and the hit parade from the aforementioned album begins. Even the severe malfunction of the drum kit does not ruin the evening; the rest of the band (including the vocalist) engage in impressively improvised soft jazz-n-blues in the meantime to keep the crowd occupied. It's similar to an actual jam section towards the end, where the vocals and guitar solos are equally competing for the audience's attention. And so, after just over an hour, Rival Sons leave the stage, having played half a set of merely decent material, and half a set of great material. Although the first part prevents me of giving them a higher grade, they can leave Pumpehuset with at least one merit: they have proven that they have both the image and the sound for large-scale success in the mainstream. It wouldn't surprise me to see them play a much bigger venue next time around, especially if their next album is anywhere near as good as "Pressure & Time".

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