Tuesday, 15 October 2019

On Stage: Sleep @ Melkweg

I love a good stoner rock band, although sometimes when it gets too close to doom metal I find it hard to stay interested. I didn't know the band Sleep from San Jose, even though they have been around since the early nineties. They did breakup for more than a decade, but reformed in 2009. A friend of mine came over to see them play and of course I joined him.

Sleep at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 9 2019

Apparently the band are arriving in a space ship, because we get to hear the moon landing's radio transmission. After the three have touched down, they start playing their heavy grooves. The songs are long, slowly built up stoner rock anthems with only a few lines of vocals. Mostly it is bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Jason Roeder laying down a concrete foundation, where guitar player Matt Pike plays his riffs and solos on top of.

Sometimes when stoner moves into doom metal territory I find the slow metal music too heavy to enjoy for a long time. That slow low tuned music is of course the idea of the genre, but it isn't always for me. That's why I like stoner a lot better, where a psychedelic element is added to the mix. Sleep does have this element as well, where you can even hear traces of early Pink Floyd. The trio also showcases great virtuosity from all three members. It keeps their music interesting enough and I can enjoy it for the whole ride.

Cisnero cooks up some incredible riffs and sounds with his bass guitar. He gets a few moments alone, where he is able to show all that. Pike has some stunning solos where he is showing his skills with some tasteful shredding. Roeder is playing the complex grooves with great ease and makes the odd time signatures sound natural. All three are playing in a very relaxed way, which enables them to let the music breath. Clearly this is a very good band with talented musicians that play stoner and doom metal on a very high level. It's good to see a full Melkweg is able to appreciate it too.

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01. Marijuanaut's Theme
02. Holy Mountain
03. The Clarity
04. Sonic Titan
05. Giza Butler
06. Leagues Beneath
07. The Botanist
08. Dragonaut

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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

On Stage: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ TivoliVredenburg

By now you'd think King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard would take it more slow. But these guys seem to be on tour continuously and recording albums at a murderous pace. The Australian band is heading for Europe though after releasing their second LP this year, the trash metal album Infest The Rats Nest. They are opening this tour with a two day residency at TivoliVredenburg and tonight is the first night.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, October 7 2019

They brought two more bands from Down Under to support them, ORB and Stonefield, who are both on King Gizzard's own label Flightless Records. I walk into the venue during ORB's last song, but fortunately I get to see Stonefield. The four Findlay sisters play heavy stoner and 70s hard rock and I like it a lot. Drummer Amy Findlay is also the singer of the quartet, who play a tight and convincing set. I simply have to get their latest record Bent after the show.

These shows sold out in no time, so it's a full house tonight. It's a nice mix of young and old, although the younger generation are vastly outnumbering the oldies on the floor. They are eager to go wild with King Gizzard who give them what they ask for right away, leading off with 'Rattlesnake'. Immediately there's a pit forming and everyone around me starts dancing.

A big screen behind the band is showing psychedelic visuals, while the band is turning on the heat. They are off to a flying start and the crowd is greeting every song with loud cheers. They cool it down a bit after a while with some of their more mellow and jazzy songs, showing their best dance moves during 'Cyboogie'. It's amazing to see how easily these guys switch from psych rock to prog rock, back to blues rock, basically anything ending with rock.

The only thing missing so far is the trash metal of their latest album. The last part of the set takes care of that, where they play a few songs from that album. I thought maybe their fans would find it a bit hard to get into, but judging from the euphoric crowd I couldn't be more wrong. "Euphoric" is the right word for the whole night ,where everyone is eager to have a good time.

The band closes the night with a lovely long version of 'The Bitter Boogie' where Ambrose Kenny-Smith takes his harmonica into the crowd. After more than two hours, the band leaves a sweaty crowd behind that had an incredible night. This band doesn't do encores, but will play have extra song in their regular set instead of leaving the stage for a couple of minutes. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard still are one of the best live bands around, one that will turn every venue upside down and inside out. They can do whatever they want, record whatever kind of music they like, it never disappoints. I will be there again next time for sure.

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01. Rattlesnake
02. Sleep Drifter
03. Anoxia
04. All Is Known
05. Alter Me I
06. Altered Beast II
07. Mr. Beat
08. Evil Death Roll
09. Acarine
10. Cyboogie
11. Beginner's Luck
12. Let Me Mend the Past
13. Inner Cell
14. Loyalty
15. Horology
16. Mars for the Rich
17. Organ Farmer
18. The Great Chain of Being
19. The Bitter Boogie

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Friday, 4 October 2019

On Stage: Motorpsycho @ Paradiso THT

It's been two years since the last time Norwegian rock heroes visited this same place in Amsterdam. Back then I wrote I couldn't wait for the Motorpsycho space ship to dock again, which is absolutely true. There's a new album The Crucible with only three songs, that kind of continues where the previous LP The Tower left off. Tonight it feels like they are continuing where they left off two years ago as well.

Motorpsycho at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, September 30 2019

The band doesn't even have to release any new music for their hardcore fanbase to show up. I'm glad they do keep recording new music, since once again The Crucible is of epic proportions where the title track takes almost 21 minutes. All three of the songs make it on the setlist tonight with that monumental song in the middle of the set as the proud centre piece.

The band hasn't changed since the last time and only switched some bigger stage lights for ones that don't light them out as nicely. Together with continuous smoke it is impossible to make decent pictures with my small camera, which explains the poor quality of the ones in this post. But it's not about photography of course, but it's all about music. With this band you know you get a lot of that.

For two and a half hours the band keeps playing tirelessly taking us across the whole rock spectrum and beyond. From prog rock, to hard rock, to stoner and back, with dazzling solo's and mind blowing jams. Bent Sæther and Hans Magnus Ryan both take out a double neck guitar at one point and dive into another epic journey. Tomas Järmyr adds plenty of fireworks behind the drum kit, while Reine Fiske has joined them this tour for additional guitar and keyboard parts. These four together create this thick sound, that makes your head spin.

With so many albums full of long songs, the band could probably play for days. They stick to two and a half hours tonight and even throw in an encore. This is a unique band, that I keep coming back to whenever they release new music and visit a nearby venue. Looking forward to next time again.

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01. In Every Dream Home
02. The Alchemyst
03. Mountain
04. Pills, Powders + Passion Plays
05. The Jig Is Up (Kiss the Snake)
06. The Crucible
07. A Pacific Sonata
08. Überwagner or a Billion Bubbles in My Mind
09. The Pilgrim
10. Psychotzar
11. Hogwash
12. No Evil
13. Hey Jane
14. Fools Gold

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