Live Review: Colour Haze, Trevor’s Head and The Brothers Keg in London, 05.22.18

Posted in Reviews on May 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Colour Haze are my that band. You know that band. There’s some resonance there that goes deeper than the average listening experience. I have a couple that bands – YOB, Neurosis, etc. – but in my 15 years of following the Munich trio’s work – which makes me Johnny Comelately when set against the fact that their first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out 23 years ago – I’ve only seen them three times prior. One was Roadburn 2009 (discussed here), another Desertfest London 2013 (review here), and to go way back, Emissions from the Monolith in 2006, which to-date remains the only show they’ve ever played on US soil. I’ve said so before, but that was a moment that genuinely changed my life.

So it was my last night in London before flying back to the US Eastern Seaboard and facing the reality check of bills, stacks of mail – my mail log was on my stolen laptop; whoops – laundry, grocery shopping, and so on, so you’re god damned right I was going to see Colour Haze as they happened to be in town on a tour that brought them to midsize club The Garage for what would be the first non-fest set of theirs I’d ever seen. On my way to the show, I was thinking of what it might bring, for what the room would be like, what the gig would be like, how many people would be there, all that stuff mixed into an anxiety and excitement that lasted pretty much until I walked in the door and saw The Brothers Keg on stage opening the three-band bill.

With Tom Fyfe on drums — also of StubbThe Brothers Keg made their debut with a demo (discussed here) late last year and played material from that and then some, proffering a blend of heavy, desert rock, shouty sludge and psychedelia that someday, probably years from now, some clever critic is going to dub the “London sound.”

It speaks to Kyuss and Iron Monkey alike, but definitely came of age with some grunge influence, and isn’t unaware of the UK’s massive psychedelic legacy either. At least The Brothers Keg weren’t. They had some bearings to straighten out in terms of overall direction, but as with the demo, their potential was writ large in their live set and they made an excellent opener for the night, tying in some elements that each of the next two acts would share.

Trevor’s Head also had some of that “London sound” to them, but it was more of an undercurrent to an overarching layer of prog-metal weirdness. Fronted by guitarist Roger Atkins they played material from their new album on APF Records, Soma Holiday (review here) and a few older songs from 2016’s Tricolossus. Obviously familiar to the crowd, who sang along as the band rolled through, Trevor’s Head‘s three-vocalist approach allowed them to bring the same variety to their live performance as they brought to the record, and three mics on stage meant that at any given point, any one of Atkins, bassist Aaron Strachan and drummer Matt Ainsworth might be breaking the balls of the others. Elephant Tree had a bit of that going too the other night, albeit with one fewer mic. Call it another London thing. Dudes being dudes and whatnot.

They’re an interesting band, though. All three have significant stage presence in the making, and they play with three discernible personalities, with Atkins the frontman despite being in a level line at the front of the stage with the others, Strachan lost in the world of his five-string, and Ainsworth amiably busting chops between songs while seated behind his kit. Again, they knew people in the crowd, but I think even as others started to show up ahead of Colour HazeTrevor’s Head represented the coterie of Desertscene — who booked this gig and also runs Desertfest London — with sonic purpose and a bit of the tongue-in-cheek persona that helps define who these groups are.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek for a bit before they went on, and he mentioned this was their 12th show in as many nights. The night before, they were in France. They’d already been to London once, as well as Porto, Madrid and up to Scotland, etc. That’s not an insignificant run for a band of 20 year olds, let alone a group of veterans who’ve influenced a generation of heavy psychedelic rockers and whose first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out in 1995. And though this was my first time seeing them outside festival confines, I was not at all surprised to find they made a two-hour set seem far too short. They were amazing. I’m speaking literally. I stood there and was amazed.

Bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald might be the tightest rhythm section I’ve ever seen. It sounds like hyperbole, but I’m being honest. Their smooth shifts in meter, groove and progression were a joy to watch from the start of set-opener “She Said” through pre-encore set-closer “Transformation” — both taken from 2012’s She Said (review here) — and they played with such class both between themselves and in kind with Koglek and keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender that as they made their way through the title-cut of 2006’s Tempel (discussed here), there was funk in their sound, as well as jazz and still enough rock to tie it all together. Merwald drove the linear builds forward as his kit faced sideways on the stage to put him head-on with Faszbender, and in classic fashion, as Rasthofer provided the foundation, it left Koglek‘s guitar free to wander. And it did. Gloriously.

And the tones. My god. The crowd — increasingly drunk, increasingly dancing — cheered from the first note Koglek played, and rightfully so. His and Rastofer‘s tones both are a guiding principle for Colour Haze, and standing in The Garage as the sound bounced off the back of the room and came around again at max volume, it was like swimming in warm water. Running “Skydancer” and “Skydance” from last year’s righteous In Her Garden (review here) together into one ahead of “Überall” from 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), they built momentum and brought immersion to a level that I doubt I’d have been able to resist if I’d tried. “Aquamaria” had been an early representation, and along with the encore finale “Love,” it was remarkable what Faszbender — on tour for the first time with the band — brought to the arrangements of material new and old.

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In addition to bringing another melodic presence, the keys and synth fleshed out transitions between the songs and worked as much with Koglek as with Rasthofer. “House of Rushammon,” which first appeared on their lost 1998 second album, Seven (discussed here) and later showed up on their 2004 landmark self-titled (discussed here), led off the encore with “Love” behind it, and before they kicked into the latter, Koglek noted from the stage that in these times of increasing nationalism and everything going on in politics, it was something of which the world needed more. From that start, they executed a final swirling build that consumed the crowd to the point that people were jumping up and down in excitement, and one could only pull out one’s earplugs and give in. I won’t say I jumped, but it was one of several points in the set where I just closed my eyes and let go. At one point I turned to The Patient Mrs. — who had had a prior obligation earlier but showed up for the headliner like the proverbial boss she is — and told her I hadn’t felt so good in a year. It was true.

This trip, with its lows and highs, couldn’t have had a better finish. I have packing to do so I’ll keep this short, but between getting robbed and the subsequent support I received, the killer shows I saw, the little bit of record shopping I got to do yesterday (maybe more on that later), seeing good friends and embracing the magic that is British fish pie, I feel like seeing Colour Haze was exactly the kind of summary for how special this time has been. I’m lucky to have experienced it, and incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to do so.

Thank you for reading.

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The Brothers Keg Post Debut Demo Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

After painstaking hours of keen-eyed detective work, I’ve concluded that the central mission behind the newly-issued two-song Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg by London trio The Brothers Keg is to introduce the band to their audience. How did I come to this resounding realization? Well, the first track on the thing is called “Introducing the Brothers Keg.” There’s that. Also it’s nine minutes long — so I had some time to think about it. That helped too.

Hey folks, it’s a process.

One might recognize guitarist/vocalist Tom Hobson and Tom Fyfe as the current bassist/vocalist and drummer for the soul-rocking trio Stubb. In The Brothers Keg, the transmutated rhythm section brings aboard bassist/vocalist Paul Rosser and with “Introducing the Brothers Keg” and its also-nine-minutes-long companion-piece “Castle Keg,” they hit immediately into a righteous sonic gamut that’s as comfortable basking in the King Buffalo-esque spaciousness of the first song as the post-Sleep roll of the latter, both captured to their fullest in the mixing and mastering job helmed by Chris West (Landskap).

At just under 19 minutes total, it’s not a minor sampling of what The Brothers Keg can do at this point, and while one might expect them eventually to veer away from some of the gruffer aspects they present here in favor of a more melodic approach particularly to the vocals, they use that edge well in these tracks and give a clear signal of where they might be headed and, sure enough, a right and proper introduction.

Check it out:

Folklore Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg

Download our new demo for free through the link below. Cheers.

Bros Keg.

https://thebrotherskeg.bandcamp.com/releases

Tracklisting:
1. Introducing The Brothers Keg (demo) 09:32
2. Castle Keg (demo) 09:17

The Brothers Keg is:
Tom Hobson – Guitar/Vocals
Paul Rosser – Bass/Vocals
Tom Fyfe – Drums

Recorded at Farm Factory Studios, Mixed and Mastered at Scuzzball Studios by Chris West

https://www.facebook.com/thebrotherskeg/
https://thebrotherskeg.bandcamp.com/releases

The Brothers Keg, Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg (2017)

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