Monster Magnet

support Scorpion Child
author BV date 12/03/16 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

You may call me any phrasing similar to insane after I disclose the following information; I have never seen Monster Magnet live before. Not until I got the chance on this night, that is. But how can that be? Personally I’ve enjoyed all of their A&M releases but mostly stuck to adoring “Dopes to Infinity”. Admittedly I’ve never really paid much attention to them beyond those releases and thus my interest wasn’t necessarily piqued before their current tour which, as it turns out, is a celebration of the aforementioned A&M releases. Not one to miss out on an obvious opportunity to hear some great riffs live and, in honesty, also a great opportunity to finally see a band I’ve been ridiculed for never having seen live, I entered Pumpehuset with great expectations.

Photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Scorpion Child

Now, the support of the night was certainly no stranger to me. As a matter of fact I’ve seen them before, whilst also having reviewed their debut album quite a while back. Scorpion Child hail from Texas, a place with a great tradition for classic rock n’ roll in my opinion and classic rock n’ roll is exactly what the band is currently trying to deliver to its audience. The lineup has morphed a fair bit since I last saw them, as they are now touring with an organist as well, bringing that proper seventies-styled, filthy rock organ sound to the stage as well – bringing the already present connotations of Led Zeppelin into a mixture with one deeply influenced by Deep Purple as well. They fared surprisingly well on Pumpehuset’s upstairs stage and from the looks of it, I’d say the band has grown quite a bit more cohesive as a unit since I last saw them.

Technical difficulties plagued the overall performance on a few occasions (particularly in terms of the vocals occasionally being inaudible), these difficulties did not hinder the band in displaying exuberant energy all around. During “Polygon of Eyes”, what could only be described as the ‘hit’ from their debut album, Scorpion Child owned the room for a few minutes with what could best be described as the highlight of their performance. Even though the musicianship is there and the band is certainly made up of skilled performers, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing overall. Maybe it was a sense of identity unique to Scorpion Child that I felt was missing, or maybe it was variety in their material. Overall though, I felt the performance was a sort of pastiche of what defined ‘great’ rock music in the seventies – i.e. exuberant performances, filthy sounding instruments and a rather formulaic approach to rock music. I feel like Scorpion Child could become a much more interesting band if they’d only dare let go of at least some of the clichés.

Monster Magnet

Some nights you can practically just feel that particular vibe of anticipation. Waiting for Monster Magnet to take the stage definitely also reeked of that vibe. People were trying their best to get as close to the stage as they possibly could to have the best view of these monsters of riffing. It would take a while for Monster Magnet to actually get on stage, but when they finally appeared, they were bathed in visuals equal parts trippy and derived from Marvel comics. Opening with “Crop Circle” from “Power Trip”, Monster Magnet assured us of a sort of riffs-galore selection for the evening. Dave Wyndorf’s characteristic voice rang powerfully throughout the hall whilst the grooves provided by the Chris Kosnik’s bass and the solidifying, grounding presence of Bob Pantella’s drums made it damn well clear that we were in for a loud and tight musical experience. “Powertrip”, “Melt” and “Superjudge” take us through a veritable powerhouse of an opening, following the already solidified groove of “Crop Circle”. It seems to be a relentless onslaught, as if Wyndorf was hell-bent on jamming as much material from these A&M years in the setlist as he possibly could – a decision he’ll hear no complaints about from me.

“Look to Your Orb for the Warning” was the first cut off “Dopes to Infinity” to make an appearance on the setlist. It was pretty amazing when it started off, however, with its sense of impending doom lurking in the riff performed in unison by guitarists Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeny. As Wyndorf’s iconic lyrics from “Look to Your Orb for the Warning” resounded through the halls, I was amazed to see how many people in attendance had actually, seemingly, learned lyrics like these by heart; ”The mountain screamed three times today / I guess it thought it'd like to play / How much does one have to pay / To fry a peak and melt away / Launching titan's breath on mine / The sweating measure lands on time” - amazing lyrics as they may be, I had not expected a Monster Magnet to be any kind of sing along event, but there was an undeniable air of equal parts nostalgia and relevance mixed in with the crowd, which might explain why these particular songs have such an effect on the crowd. Most in attendance certainly looked like these songs might well have been the soundtrack to their teenage years.

With the pairing of “Dopes to Infinity” and “Space Lord” as the final songs of the main setlist, Wyndorf and his musical comrades certainly ended on a very high note as these two tracks are, without a doubt, some of the strongest and most memorable material to ever grace Monster Magnet’s back catalogue. Because of that, it makes the whole séance appear quite great as the following three encores did not drag down the vibe at all, but merely added to the general air of acceptance, nostalgia and, well, headbanging. It was almost inevitable, really, but I must admit I was beyond stoked when the final track of the evening turned out to be “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” – a track that is equal parts corny and amazing. It basically sounds like several aspects of the nineties rock scenes mashed together into one song – with great success. There’s a bit of grunge in there, some stoner rock, we bit of grandiosity and most of all there’s a highly memorable riff. If you’re a Monster Magnet fan, I can’t possibly see how this particular night could have disappointed. If you weren’t a fan and you watched the show, I reckon you are one now. The rest of you should see this as a massive fucking hint; go see Monster Magnet live. I was hesitant, and realize now I should have seen this spectacle a lot sooner.

Setlist:

  • 01. Crop Circle
  • 02. Powertrip
  • 03. Melt
  • 04. Superjudge
  • 05. Twin Earth
  • 06. Look to Your Orb for the Warning
  • 07. Dinosaur Vacuum
  • 08. Cage Around the Sun
  • 09. Tractor
  • 10. Dopes to Infinity
  • 11. Space Lord

—Encore—

  • 12. I Want More
  • 13. Face Down
  • 14. Negasonic Teenage Warhead

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