Brant Bjork

support South
author BV date 15/10/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s quite rare to get to see two shining examples of desert reminiscent, highly groovy stoner rock in the course of a single week. In addition to having witnessed Fu Manchu this past Monday, this particular Wednesday offered up none other than the legendary Brant Bjork – previously known for his work with Fu Manchu, as well as his recent work with Vista Chino. Being a well-known entity in his own right, it was refreshing to see a great turnout at Loppen for this lesson in groove from the groove maestro himself. First of all, however, there was the matter of the support band to tend to.

All photos courtesy of: Nikola Majkic

South

Now, South was a completely new entity to me – and to many others I might add, as they were added as support at the very last minute, following the unfortunate cancellation by Pet the Preacher. Fortunately I found the band to be quite endearing throughout their stoner and sludge reminiscent soundscapes – leaning heavily on a sound that I commonly associate with the Leeds-based band Black Moth, most notably due to the fact that both bands have female vocalists that understand the art of allure – drawing the crowd in with equal parts of stage presence and vocal proficiency. However, placing South’s moderate success on the vocalist alone would be a damn shame, as the two guitarists did their fair part in adding the characteristic grit to the mix, in addition to churning out riffs as if they were born to do it. No band is complete without a solid rhythm section and fortunately South seem to have that particular part down as well. At first glance at least, it seems that all the proper ingredients are present for South to become an interesting act in their own right, but they have yet to find each other musically so that the interplay between the musicians becomes tight and their material can be developed further. I’ll be looking forward to watching their development.

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Brant Bjork

Following South’s display of heavy-as-fuck stoner grooves, the time had come for Brant Bjork and his band to hit the stage with a slightly more groove-oriented, less heavy approach to the stoner rock sound. Opening with “Low Desert Punk” and its slow-burning, utterly hypnotizing riff Bjork and the band immediately took off into a rather jam-influenced territory where lengthy solos, extended instrumental sections and Bjork’s characteristically laid-back vocals were of the essence, rather than going from song to song in the traditional introductory fashion. Words seemed unnecessary for the band to convey what they truly wanted and their instruments did the talking that was required. Dave Dinsmore’s bass quickly proved to be a vital part of the musical endeavors on stage as the heavy, groove-laden bass-riffs drove the jams forward – leaving Bjork and Bubba DuPree to deliver some hazy and heavily acidic guitar parts along the way.

Calling Brant Bjork the maestro of groove seemed to become an understatement as the night progressed. Although his solo-repertoire might not always be as immediate and enthralling as his work in Kyuss, Vista Chino or Fu Manchu, one cannot simply take away the sheer joy with which the material was being played on stage. The joy manifested itself in the way Bjork and his band interacted with each other – constantly leaning on each other’s musical ideas to propel the tracks forward. “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” was a prime example of the unadulterated joy of playing displayed and although much of the set-list (which contained a heavy dose of new tracks to be released next month) eluded me and my limited knowledge of Brant Bjork’s solo work, I must say that it’s been a while since I last experienced such a groovy and tightly knit stoner rock band. With the definite highlight of the set, “Freaks of Nature”, Tony Tornay’s subtle but effective drumming launched the band into what I perceived to be the longest, yet most endearing track of the night. There was something oddly comfortable about the way Bjork barely sings the words, yet somehow conveys an energy fitting of the music and the ferocity and grit it occasionally showcases. As the sounds of fuzz and feedback turned to inevitable silence, people slowly ventured out into the night again. Meanwhile I left Loppen with a single thought in my head; what a rad show.

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