Truckfighters

support White Miles + Valley of the Sun
author BV date 16/02/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Sunday gigs are a strange phenomenon. On one hand you never expect them to amount to much, given that it is the final, most tedious day of the week as you have probably been partying Friday and Saturday, with the outlook of going to work on Monday morning. Yet, somehow Beta had managed to book, as well as completely sell out, a Truckfighters gig on that very day of the week – odd indeed, since Truckfighters are known for their energetic, party-like stoner-rock sets. With the combination of residual hangovers from the night before and the slight skepticism towards booking Truckfighters on a Sunday, I entered Beta for what would essentially become one of the most intense, hilarious and rocked out Sundays I have experienced in months.

All photos by Kenny Swan

Valley of the Sun

First up on the night’s triple bill was Valley of the Sun, a desert-rocking and ridiculously groovy band from Cincinnati, Ohio. From the opening riff of their first track, “Hearts Aflame”, the energy-level being displayed on stage was borderline ridiculous. Not only did drummer Aaron Boyer rival the drum-kit antics of Animal from The Muppets, he also proceeded to break a drum-stick within 50 seconds or so of the song. Musically speaking, the guitar-riffs of Ryan Ferrier and the bass grooves of Ryan McAllister merged to a near-brutal, fuzzy onslaught of disturbing tightness which progressed all the way through most of their set, whilst they also managed to rival drummer Aaron Boyer when it came to gaining the attention of the crowd – effectively managing to drop a jaw or two, as I am quite sure that no one had predicted the sheer magnitude of this first of support bands, as well as the impact that they would have on the rest of the evening.

With “Deep Light Burns”, Valley of the Sun reached their musical highpoint of the evening as their songwriting seemingly matched the superiority of their stage antics – up to this point they were, first and foremost, an insane live experience with some very decent songs. However, as the riff of “Deep Light Burns” roared through the speakers and Ryan Ferrier’s howling voice echoed through the venue it was quite clear that this was a profoundly groovy, catchy and eloquently constructed song that we were being treated to – what made it even better was the subtle inclusion of a cow-bell on the drum-kit. As Valley of the Sun rounded off their short but sweet 30 minute set, I came to the conclusion that; 1) this would be insanely tough to follow. 2) I need to review their upcoming EP.

White Miles

Following a very brief changeover, the duo White Miles prepared for their tough spot in the middle of a great opening performance, and the promise of a hopefully great headliner. As guitarist/vocalist ‘Medina’ fuzzed up the proceedings, she was subsequently followed by drummer ‘Lofi’ who was, quite surprisingly, also displaying an insane amount of energy behind the kit – to such an extent really, that I was beginning to sense a pattern of ‘show-stealing’ drummers forming here. Displaying obvious inspirations from acts such as The White Stripes, White Miles thundered through a fuzzily bombastic, somewhat blues-laden variant of stoner rock which would probably fit neatly into the surroundings of a strip-club on the outskirts of a desert – coupling the dusty with the heavy, whilst adding a sense of raw, sexual energy to the proceedings. With tracks like “Hell of a Woman” and “Feinripp” the duo displayed a perfect example of how a mere duo can actually fill out a venue, provided that their energy level matches the intensity and magnitude of their soundscape.

Their songs might not be the most original thing I have ever heard, as they do adhere a lot to quite stringent forms – however, if one couples the catchiness of their tracks with the level of showmanship these two performers displayed, it still provides one hell of a memorable performance, complete with plenty of crowd interaction. With “Show Your Hope Where the Dope Grows” the band displayed itself from its corniest, yet also most intriguing standpoint of the night. Fueled by Lofi’s drum grooves, eventually supplemented by a guitar that sneaks up on the soundscape, the band relied a great deal on a sense of minimalism, which was indeed a bold move for a duo playing for a packed venue. However, as the catchy and simple chorus of the song reared its head, the fuzz came along and added a monolithic counterpart to the otherwise minimalistic and nearly introverted beginnings of the song. As White Miles also rounded off their set after a brief 30-35 minutes, the uplifting sense of excitement initially provided by Valley of the Sun lived on – proving that White Miles were indeed capable of fulfilling their support band duties, even when facing a difficult task such as following a great performance like the one which had preceded them.

Truckfighters

Finally, after two impressive support acts and a lengthy changeover, Truckfighters took the stage. Or, rather, Truckfighters’ guitarist Dango took the stage, further enticing the crowd before he was eventually joined by his two associates, Poncho (drums) and Ozo (Bass/vocals). Following the brief introduction and crowd-teasing, Truckfighters immediately launched into a massive version of “Mind Control”. Granted, the sound issues that had apparently become evident during the changeover were still affecting the soundscape, muddying up specific passages whilst the volume had also been cut to, at least to my ears, a significantly lower level than during the two previous performances. However, the onstage antics of the band were too captivating for most people to really take notice of this. As Dango tore off his shirt and lunged it at the crowd with a maniacal look in his eyes, it was evident that this band is probably as rock n’ roll as you can be – effectively portraying the party-like reputation they seem to have garnered in recent years.

The fuzzy proceedings carried on with specific tracks becoming harder to identify due to the nearly seamless flow of their performance with the tracks elaborately intertwined in a playful atmosphere of fuzzed out desert-rock tinged with a hint of psychedelia. Throughout their performance it seemed as if the previous energy displayed by the support bands had spawned more energy – to such an extent that guitarist Dango jumped around frenetically, acting as if he was literally on fire whilst tearing it up on the guitar. Likewise, drummer Poncho smashed, pounded and beat his drum-kit in such a fashion that one could probably call it brutal assault. These two very extroverted performing approaches complemented bassist/vocalist Ozo perfectly as his stoic figure held down the fort, making sure things never got sloppy in the midst of his colleagues’ down-right insane performances.

As the crowd maniacally, and quite frequently, chanted ‘TRUCK-FIGH-TERS!’ the band lunged into their final track before the encores – namely that of “Desert Cruiser”, to what seemed like thunderous applause. During this highpoint of the set, Truckfighters swayed the few remaining people in the audience who weren’t exactly sure that Sundays could be used for partying as well. As Truckfighters then left the stage, the crowd was nowhere near ready to let go just yet – prompting Truckfighters to come back out and immediately pick up on “Desert Cruiser” once more, much to the surprise and joy of the crowd in general. Closing the proceedings with “In Search of”, the band managed to let out the last remaining bursts of energy, sending a crowd of 200 or so people back home to the safe confines of their own homes – all of us well aware that the gruesome Monday morning awaited, whilst none of us could really be bothered to give a fuck about it, due to the air of rock n’ roll attitude which virtually oozed out of the venue.

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