Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

support Spiders
author AP date 30/10/15 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Friday night concerts are always a pleasure to attend. People are energised and in high spirits, treating these gigs like a celebration of another week conquered, and certainly in this case the fact that most people would have received their paycheques earlier in the day translates is not a disadvantage. The stage is thus set for an invigorating evening in the company of one of the most exciting stoner / doom / psychedelic rock acts in the market right now, known as much for the quality they lay down on record as for their entrancing live performances. First though, as always, there is the support act to consider.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Spiders

To my understanding, Spiders garnered considerable praise with their sophomore album from 2014, “Shake Electric”, which peaked at seventh position on the official Swedish chart. But watching the tambourine shaking, maraca rattling, and occasionally guitar strumming vocalist Ann-Sofie Hoyles and her three male colleagues John Hoyles, Olle Griphammar & Ricard Harryson course their way through a good 40 minutes of support time, it is, for the most part, difficult to identify justifications for the acclaim. Ms. Hoyles is beaming with enthusiasm to be sure, but to me she seems alive only in a choreographed fashion and even if this is not the case, the robotic movements and disinterested stances of her instrument-wielding and -manning compatriots sure contribute to an overall feeling that Spiders are all about Ms. Hoyles’ slightly husky, Anouk reminiscent singing. She is consistently impressive, but despite the fact that the bluesy balladry of “Above the Sky” (I think?) and the high energy rock’n’roll of brand new track “Why Don’t You” have their moments, the music offered up just doesn’t cut the threshold. There is a serious lack of memorabilia, and as a number of attendees around me point out, the soundscape is incredibly narrow, with none of the oomph and instrumental depth of, say, the evening’s headlining act. So even though Ms. Hoyles must be applauded for her undying fervour and impressive vocal chords, overall all of this sounds a little shallow — like a lighter and less interesting version of their countrymen (and women) in Blues Pills. With more spirit from the remaining three musicians, as well as a louder and heavier sound mix, the experience would be miles better, but alas, my first experience with the group ends in disappointment.

5

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats on the other hand are a much more full-fledged act in the live setting, cranking the volume high without sacrificing clarity, and creating a wonderfully entrancing atmosphere with their customary dim lighting. And honestly, the band’s songwriting is in another dimension — the different elements are not original on their own, but the way in which the group fuses doom, stoner and psychedelic rock is unique and, in liaison with the moody light show, creates an atmosphere of magic that has the audience spellbound throughout. Indeed, it is perhaps the greatest asset of this band, the inherent capacity of songs like “Waiting for Blood” or “Mind Crawler” (a potent opening duo for the evening, by the way) to draw you in with a groovy riff and then capture your undivided attention with a combination of repetition and the Ozzy-rooted vocal harmonies of the two guitarists, Kevin Ryan Starrs & Yotam Rubinger.

The performance feels like a portal to the 70’s, the limited interaction with the audience, the sublime interplay between the four musicians, and not least the frequent lapses into evocative instrumental passages transforming Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats into vessels through which past magic is resurrected. Seldom does one witness a band so immersed in their own music as it the case here, and were it not for their relentless rocking out, one could be forgiven for deeming them a little distant. Their detachment has a purpose, and judging by the boiling audience during tracks like “13 Candles” and “I’ll Cut You Down”, there is a universal appreciation in the venue that this is the best way to experience Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. They take their art seriously, and succeed.

Still, things never reach the unearthly plane they did at Pumpehuset last year, and I suspect this might have to do with the fact that contrary to that gig, tonight’s show is not sold out. It is lacking some of that hot intensity that transformed that previous concert into a feverish sweat lodge, although the large audience that has nonetheless gathered here is lapping it up with raucous approval. Instead, by Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ standards, what we witness here is probably the band’s solid form — much better than most of their ilk, yet just short of them firing on all cylinders.

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