Greenleaf , No Trip Mechanoid // Six Dogs, Athens, Greece // 08.05.2015
The best gift a band can grant you is when you enter the venue with a bad mood and at the end of the night you exit with a big smile and a calm head. That is what GREENLEAF did for me, apart from filling my ears with raging heavy rock. With their three latest albums, “Agents of Ahriman”, “Nest of Vipers” and most notably last years’ “Trails and Passes”, the Swedes have managed to step out of DOZER’s shadow and cast their own light upon the ever restless scene of their nation’s heavy/ stoner rock.
But, before we dig into the main course of the night let’s stand for a moment and reflect on NO TRIP MECHANOID APE’s performance. It’s always nice to not have a clue about a band and at the end it turns out to be, if not something more, at least promising. I have a soft spot for the German masters COLOUR HAZE and when I see a Greek band trying to tread on their –not so easy- path, I can’t help but congratulate them, no matter if I found them lacking a bit on the climactic aspect of this sound and rather basing their sound to the “wall of fuzz” approach. Then again, who said it is obligatory to play exactly as some other band?
Aiming to power and raw fuzz lengthy jams, they made quite a few heads move up and down, either from headbanging or from nodding in appreciative agreement to their effort and musical path. They reached the highest peak of their performance with “Reptile Jam” and a cover that needs some heavy “cojones” to pull off, “Somo” by SUNGRAZER. The mixture of their psychedelic visual effects and their heavy psych rock did very well to warm us up and I believe that should they get the chance to play in a bigger venue we will be talking about a whole other level of live experience. If you appreciate any of the bands from which they seem to draw their inspiration from, make sure to check out their Bandcamp page and contribute to the cause.
Giving us little time to fool around though, GREENLEAF storm on the stage and to be honest, I think the word “storm” maybe even does them some injustice. We are talking about tons of energy, passion and movement upon the stage, especially from the hyperactive frontman Arvid Jonsson! At some points he looked like a heavy rock preacher trying to instill fire in the hearts of the crowd, with glimmering eyes and body language that screamed “Get the fuck up!”
And so we did of course. How could we possibly not, when the set kick starts with heavy hurricanes like “Equators” or “Ocean Deep”? No monkey business or experimentation here, straight up stone ‘n’ roll in the vein of DOZER (obviously) and ORANGE GOBLIN fueling the mind and bodies of the enthusiastic –and also quite hyperactive- attendants, with a spice of melody here and there, all for good measure. Well, good measure is relative here since at one time I felt the wooden floors trembling beneath my feet, but who does not like a good sign of raw power in a heavy rock concert?
By the point we reach “Depth of the Sun” Tommi Holappa could have filled ten buckets with his sweat, a result of his manic movement up and down his guitar frets and also his thrashing dance on any song he might had been playing. And I think this is the quintessence of this live, because although someone may not be a huge fan of GREENLEAF (like me for example), it is really hard to not appreciate how much they seemed to love their own songs, how they were infatuated with every note they produced and how they seemed to be having a whale of a time with their own concert, making them look more like fans than a band doing just another gig. That’s some stoner bonding time with the crowd right there.
Arvid will leave the stage to catch his breath (quite logical when you think the quantity of energy he has produced by that time) and enjoy a sip of red wine, while the other dudes remain on stage and take us on a trip in the past with the explosive instrumental “Electric Ryder”. The party never stops and here come rushing forward “Stray Bullit Woman” (with a killer sing along from the crowd) and “With Eyes Wide Open” which I think was the vocal highlight for Mr. Jonsson and a clear sign of how hard “Trails and Passes” rules. And, I don’t believe something needs to be said about a triple encore which included “Black Black Magic”, “Going Down” and an a capella version of “Be your husband” with the music provided by the crowd stomping its feet on the ground, really unique moments.
So, a night of pure entertainment, tons of sweat and energy and a shitload of smiles on our faces; these are the goodies that these lovely Swedes brought to Athens and I sincerely hope they bring them again soon.