Monster Magnet, Headquake // Pireaus Academy, Athens, Greece // 02.04.2016
It’s always a huge pleasure (and even that feels like an understatement), when MONSTER MAGNET come around these parts. MONSTER MAGNET, is a band so unique in its rock approach and with a singer/composer who so easily embodies the quintessence of being an inspirational frontman, that is virtually impossible to not fall in love with their work at first listen. Coincidentally, my love for this band was firmly established by 3 out of the 4 albums that they would be honoring on that night’s set list (due to their re-release); The iconic, mind-melting “SUPERJUDGE”, their magnum opus “DOPES TO INFINITY” and the ultimate 00’s electric shocker, “POWERTRIP”. Not that I have any problem whatsoever with “GOD SAYS NO”. “Just set that plastic soul on fire and watch it melt”, motherfucker.
No one could doubt that this would be an unofficial “redemption” for their last appearance here in Athens ,which was a great show altogether, yet I personally felt it lacked some of the immense passion, that this band traditionally produces on stage. And yes, this Saturday we were “redeemed” out of freaking skulls by the space lords. First of on stage though, and in front of a sparse crowd, were HEADQUAKE.
HEADQUAKE, have inscribed their own, long history on Greece’s “heavy” underground lore and I was very excited to see them play live. I have to say, although I was not blown away by their performance, their performance was perfect as an appetizer for what was about to follow. For 40 minutes they pounded our ears with a lovely mixture of deep, hard hitting, classic stoner rock sound, mixed with the ever-present sense of alternative, grungy rhythms and vocal lines that – especially- this generation of heavy rockers has gotten us used to. Very loud and committed to what they were doing, having fun on stage and trying to warm up a generally “cold” crowd, they earned a heartfelt applause after each song and at the ending of their set, plus my personal admiration for their drummer who beat the living shit out of the drum kit. They definitely laid many years of experience on stage, and with their slow yet energetic show, they grew our appetite for fuzzed up rock ‘n ’roll guitars ten times larger!
When the lights went out, the tension in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife. And when Dave Wyndorf and his company of psychedelic warlords walked on stage, it felt like all the attendants were waiting for the first notes like runners wait for the commissar’s gun sound. Take positions; Get set; They open their set with “Crop Circle”! ; GO! For anyone who has found a new meaning in the essence of rock ‘n’ roll and has wandered on strange places with this band’s music, I feel like I don’t even need to describe what it felt like when they kicked off with “Crop Circle”, “Powertrip” and “Melt”. It felt like they came to rip heads, taking in all of our anticipation and transforming it into double amounts of energy, that they’d then kick back to us. The guitar duo was simply out to kill, playing on 11 and shaking the grounds with their groove. And Dave, oh Dave; It does not matter if he’s had his ups and downs. This man feels immortal to his fans, he sweats music through his pores and just saying it was “joyous” to see him at such a form is the understatement of the year. Dangerous, sweaty and powerful rock ‘n’ roll, in one of its purest forms walking up and down the stage of Piraeus Academy. And how the hell is it possible that, after 25 years from their debut, his voice still carring that same angry, ironically psychedelic and destructive vibe almost intact? I’ll never find out, but what I know is that it turned that night into a wild party, with the crowd losing its shit from the first moment to the last amplifier static.
And then “Superjudge” came. I won’t waste your time with my insane affection for this song, but I was flying through clouds of magic, when the first notes appeared. Then the anxiety kicks in; “Will they be able to perform the greatest solo of the entire 90’s live”. Well, you can’t play that thing twice in a lifetime, but Phil Caivano almost destroyed his chords, tapping and shredding like a maniac, producing one of the most amazing, jaw dropping improvised solo I have ever heard live. And improvised psychedelic passages were a recurring theme in this concert, like on “Look To your Orb For The Warning” or “Cage Around The Sun” (masterpieces) when already incredibly psychedelic typhoons, were stretched to the point of rendering the crowd motionless, quitting dancing and shoving and screaming for some minutes, just to gaze at the orgies of fantasy happening on stage, either by the guitar duo or Dave’s perception altering keyboard sounds.
“Dinosaur Vacuum” gets dug up from the dusty chest it’d been locked in, “Twin Earth” makes bodies move, as if it was a divine command, “Tractor” and “Dopes to Infinity” send the crowd into a sing along frenzy and fill us with the undeniable thought that “we are absolutely free” and by the time “Space Lord” has ended, MONSTER MAGNET seem like rock ‘n’ roll kings, bathing in their insane light show. “Face Down” and “I Want More” serve as the encore desert, and the monster hit “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” serves as the icing on that glorious cake.
They came, they saw, they conquered. It was a show that portrayed exactly why MONSTER MAGNET were ahead of their time, writing songs 20 years ago that still sound as fresh and youthful as ever. An absolute rock power trip, or if you’d like “all in all, a pretty good day”…
Photos: Afroditi Zaggana