Up in Smoke 2017 Adds Saint Vitus, Brant Bjork, Stoned Jesus, Beastmaker, Toner Low, Kaleidobolt and Usnea

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

up-in-smoke-2017-banner

I was fortunate enough to see Toner Low once in my life, and though it sounds greedy to even think I’d like to do so again, yeah, that would be pretty frickin’ awesome. At least that’s how it went last time around. Theirs is just one of the considerable names added to the Swiss-based Up in Smoke 2017 festival in this update, and one finds the Netherlands trio in the company of desert legend Brant Bjork, doom legends Saint Vitus, and YouTube legends Stoned Jesus, as well as Beastmaker — one assumes they’re soon to announce a full European tour for this fall — Usnea and Finland’s Kaleidobolt. All told it’s seven new bands for Up in Smoke 2017, which wasn’t exactly hurting before, with the likes of Orange Goblin and Graveyard, Ufommamut, Windhand and so on.

Bottom line? Awesome bill. Here’s the latest:

up-in-smoke-2017-poster

Up In Smoke 2017 – 7 New Bands : Brant Bjork (with Special Guest Sean Wheeler), Saint Vitus, Stoned Jesus & more added to the bill!

We are thrilled to announce 7 new bands confirmed for Up In Smoke 2017! BRANT BJORK (coming with Special Guest Sean Wheeler), SAINT VITUS, STONED JESUS, TONER LOW, BEASTMAKER, USNEA & KALEIDOBOLT! Our 5th edition will feature at least 20 bands on two stages with no overlapping set times, to guarantee you two days of Volume Worshipping!

BRANT BJORK (USA)
SAINT VITUS (USA)
STONED JESUS (UKR)
TONER LOW (NL)
BEASTMAKER (USA)
USNEA (USA)
KALEIDOBOLT (FIN)

Located Pratteln, in Switzerland’s best rock venue, Z7 Konzertfabrik, only a few kilometres from the German and French borders, Up In Smoke is an indoor festival for fans of Heavy Rock – Doom – Psych – Stoner… easily reachable by plane via the Euro-Airport (Basel/Muhouse) or by public transportations (train, bus) via Basel Main Station. There are plenty of affordable Hotels and Hostels located in Basel and for “budget savers” we are also offering to sleep over + breakfast (Coffee and bread rolls) in the venue for a small fee!

How does this work? After the last concert of the day, we ask everybody to step out of the venue for a few minutes. During that time, the venue and toilets are cleaned and the floor covered with a plastic sheet. (people have to bring their sleeping bags and air mattresses)

https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1306
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.facebook.com/events/466424317082118/
https://www.upinsmoke.de/

Brant Bjork, Live at Desert Generator 2017

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Keep it Low 2016 Announces First Bands; Colour Haze, Monkey3 and Toner Low to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2016 header

I was dying to get to Keep it Low this past Fall and didn’t make it, and here we are again and Sound of Liberation has begun announcing bands for Keep it Low 2016. This is the fourth edition of the laid-back, Munich-based fest, the vibe of which I feel like bleeds through even the press releases, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this is the year I can actually make the trip happen. What was the problem last year? Oh yeah, that’s right. No money. Ever. Ugh.

The first three bands have been announced as being Colour HazeMonkey3 and Toner Low, which are enough to pique interest on their own, never mind however many others are going to be added over the next half a year. Well, you know me. I’ll be here, daydreaming about booking a flight all the while. Something tells me this is gonna be one to see.

From the PR wire:

keep it low 2016 poster

KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… Colour Haze, Monkey3, Toner Low confirmed!

It’s time to unveil our first bands for KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2016, that will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich)! We are thrilled to tell you that Psychedelic Rock purveyors Colour Haze will perform one of their rare 2016 shows on October, Friday 21st. We love them here, Munich is their home town, and it has become sort of a ritual to let them play on the first night of Keep It Low.

Then, on Saturday 22nd, we’ll have the great pleasure to welcome the Swiss Heavy Psych outfit Monkey3, presenting their trippy upcoming 6th album, and The Netherland’s Stoner Doom trio Toner Low, who hadn’t played in Germany for a while… we wanted that fixed!

KEEP IT LOW 2016 greets with 3 stages and around 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. For the ones keeping it really low, we decided to end the festival with an aftershow party (+DJ) on the 22nd in one of the concert rooms.

Our Early Bird – Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 56 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!
Grab yours quick :)

More bands will be announced in April, but meanwhile… Keep It Low!

http://woolheads.com/cms/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/keep-it-low-2-tages-festivalticket-2016/
https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
https://www.facebook.com/events/203352083353676
http://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com

Colour Haze, Live at Poolbar Festival 2015

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Doomed Gatherings III: Crowbar, Elder, Toner Low and Many More Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

doomed gatherings iii header

You know how I know Doomed Gatherings III has its shit together? Yeah, they’ve got Elder, Crowbar, Trouble, Monolord, Egypt, Ramesses, Mantar and so on confirmed to play over the course of the three-night event in Paris this May, and that’s super. Not arguing against any of that. But how you really know is that not only are Toner Low playing the thing, but they’re playing a set all three nights. That’s right: a Toner Low residency. I don’t know about you, but from where I sit there’s nothing about that concept that isn’t badass.

Details and ticket links follow for the big to-do, for which there are reportedly more band announcements to come. Makes sense, as May’s still a ways off. The following came down the PR wire:

doomed gatherings iii poster

Crowbar, Ramesses, Trouble and more confirmed to play third DOOMED GATHERINGS festival in Paris!

The third edition of France’s only doom, sludge and filth-oriented festival DOOMED GATHERINGS is taking up residence again at Glazart venue in Paris, for three days of crushing, highly grooving and undoubtedly smoke-filled performances. The lineup is now almost complete with a total of twenty-one bands, among which Crowbar, Ramesses, Trouble, Monolord and Elder. Let there be doom.

DOOMED GATHERINGS III
May 14-16th at Glazart – Paris, France
3-day pass (55€) and day tickets (25€) on sale HERE

The current lineup is as follows, with two more bands remaining to be announced. Hotel deals will come up soon along with next announcement.

DAY 1 ? Saturday 14th May ?
Ramesses (UK) ? Toner Low (NL) ? Mantar ? Egypt (USA) ? Demonic Death Judge (FIN) ? The Lumberjack Feedback (FR) ? NNRA ? Bathsheba (BE)

DAY 2 ? Sunday 15h May ?
Crowbar (USA) ? Trouble (USA) ? Toner Low (NL) ? Samothrace (USA) ? Hang The Bastard (UK) ? Throw Me in the Crater (NL) + 2 more bands TBA

DAY 3 ? Monday 16h May ?
Elder (USA) ? Monolord (SWE) ? Toner Low (NL) ? Electric Moon (DE) ? Chaos E.T. Sexual (FR) ? DDENT (FR) ? Carousel (USA)

Doomed Gatherings is the first festival in France for everything doom, sludge, filthy and psyched out. Taking place for the third year at Glazart in the 19th district of Paris, the festival is powered by national heavy promoters Stoned Gatherings and assembles a fine selection of international headliners and breakthrough acts, for the sheer love of Heavy.

Glazart is an indoor/outdoor club located in the north-east of Paris, near reknown architectural unit of La Villette, a venue that is easily reachable from the underground and tramway lines.

? Getting to Glazart ?
7-15 avenue de La Porte de la Villette, 75019 Paris
? Metro 7 (Porte de la Villette station)
or Tram 3b (Porte de la Villette station)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1717007591852526
https://www.weezevent.com/doomed-gatherings
https://www.facebook.com/doomed.gatherings
https://twitter.com/StonedGathering

The Body, Live at Doomed Gatherings 2014

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Friday Full-Length: Toner Low, Toner Low

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Toner Low, Toner Low (2005)

This month marks a decade since Netherlands-based ultrastoner trio Toner Low released their self-titled debut on Freebird Records. It followed a number of shorter offerings and demos and had been issued by the band’s own Roadkill Rekordz. It’s since been reissued a few times, its striking orange cover changed in this way or that, but whichever pressing it happens to be at any given moment, the album’s mammoth riffing, sludgy vibe and, yes, tone continues to stagger even a full 10 years after the fact, if not moreso for the context of the shape of heavy since. Toner Low got their start in 1998, roughly concurrent to the beginnings of Ufomammut in Italy, and as YOB were making their way toward their initial demo. By the time Toner Low‘s Toner Low actually materialized, its six-track/46-minute chug and push amp wall might not have been the first time a blend of cosmic psychedelia and crushing fuzz heft were paired with each other, but there’s no denying that Toner Low brought something of their own to the style that no one else did, a more direct inheritance from the riff worship of Sleep than most who would try could claim even now.

Plus, from the machine sounds within the trench-cut depths of “Devilbot” on through the stonedrone supremacy of “Sunn Of,” Toner Low maintains an experimental flair that sets the band apart not only from those who might be their multinational contemporaries, but from underground heavy in general. The “Dopesmoker”-style opening of “Grass” still nods better than most current practitioners, and the multi-stage righteousness of 14-minute closer “Nymrod” is an album unto itself — the hypnosis of “Sunn Of” before it setting up its explosion with hypnotic noisemaking — finishing out Toner Low‘s first long-player with eternal swing and a guitar and bass so dense that you could stand on them. The core is instrumental exploration, sound worship, but when there are vocals, they’re so blown out as to become part of the space rock affect, blurring the line between voice and instrument — something “Devilbot” does particularly well — except for the post-“Interlude” spoken word of “Murphy,” which recounts some obscure limbs-a-flying horror that may or may not have happened in orbit. All the while, Toner Low retain a sense of sonic will, a purpose that’s there even if you can’t be sure what it is, and that makes the record a mystery on some level to this day.

Of course, Toner Low are still going. They released their second album, II (discussed here), in 2008 and their third, III (review here), arrived in 2013 and has a vinyl reissue due next month through the band’s webstore. Their sound has progressed but remained unifyingly stoned out according to the tenets that the self-titled makes plain. They’re not really due for a follow-up yet, but if one was on the way, I wouldn’t fight it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’ve been feeling big riffs this week, so there you go. Hard to go further in terms of largesse-of-riff.

I said a lot in the anniversary post, so I’ll keep this short and sweet, but thanks again for reading if you got to check in at all this week. There was a lot — and next week has a lot too — but I still feel like we got back to some semblance of normalcy after the anticipated-albums list went up on Monday. I had to get that one out. Next year, I think I’ll try to organize it differently though. Seemed like it was too much. Felt that way writing it, but I think even for people navigating through. Eh, you learn from it, change it around next year. Still pretty pleased with the response it got.

Did I mention next week is really busy? Good. Monday, look out for an Albino Rhinö track premiere that’s a 20-minute long jam. Still only half the song, of course, but it should be plenty. Tuesday, a track from Salt Lake City’s Making Fuck, who have ties to SubRosa and Dwellers. Wednesday, a video premiere from Devil to Pay. Thursday, a review and full stream for Mountain Tamer. And Friday, come hell or high water, I’m going to review Hexvessel. It should be well enough for the week.

Should do a new podcast at some point too. Might have to kiss up January and pick back up in February with the next one. Been a crazy, fast month. In the meantime though, I have a Borderland Fuzz Fiesta mixtape coming together next week that will feature tracks from the fest at the end of February which I’ll be covering in Arizona. Looking forward to that one for sure.

That’s going to have to do it for me. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream, which I’m happy to say is back up and running at its full capacity after being on the backup for most of last week.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Desertfest Berlin 2015: Toner Low Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I’ve seen Toner Low, and they’re one of those bands that, whatever you’re thinking of as heavy, they’re probably heavier than it. A complete tonal overload of lurching riffs, stoned vibes and mega-weedian plod. Their third album, 2013’s III (review here), remains a superlative when it comes to the dankest of grooves, and their 2005 self-titled debut would be legendary by now — a decade later — if anyone who experienced it had brain cells enough afterwards to realize what they’d just witnessed. Sounds like hyperbole? It is. Some bands just bring it out of you like that.

Don’t believe me? Fine, don’t bury yourself under the four tracks of III by listening to it on the Bandcamp player below and thus have to immediately find the most efficient means of purchasing everything they’ve ever done. Your loss. For those lucky enough to be in attendance (would that I could count myself among their number), Toner Low will be dropping jaws at Desertfest Berlin 2015, which runs from April 23-25 at the Astra Kulturhaus, joining the ranks of fellow tone-extremists Conan and Ufomammut, for whom they make good company.

The festival announced their inclusion like this:

toner low desertfest berlin 2015

We are thrilled to tell you today that Lowlands’ psychedelic doomers Toner Low are now confirmed for DesertFest Berlin 2015!

In April, they will spread their overwhelming, crunchy and heavy sound to the Astra Kulturhaus and crush the Desertfest crowd!
It’s gonna be massive!

Be there! Buy your ticket right now on www.desertfest.de/tickets! (85€ + taxes)

DESERTFEST BERLIN #4 – APRIL 23th, 24th, 25th 2015
ASTRA KULTURHAUS / F-HAIN/X-BERG BERLIN (GER)

Red Fang + Orange Goblin + Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band + Acid King + Ufomammut + My Sleeping Karma + Conan + Black Pyramid + Karma To Burn + Brutus + Dopethrone + The Atomic Bitchwax + Lo-Pan + The Picturebooks + Toner Low + Dirty Fences + Heat + Mountain Witch + Mother Engine + Riff Fist + Travelin Jack + many more acts:)

www.desertfest.de
www.soundofliberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/tonerlow
http://tonerlow.bandcamp.com/

Toner Low, III (2013)

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Buried Treasure: Toner Low, III Amongst the Leaves

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 23rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Among the least regrettable purchases I’ve made this year is Toner Low, III — the Dutch trio’s heaviest and stonedest album yet. The three-piece occupy a region of low end that few can claim to know. Conan, Ufomammut sometimes, and that’s pretty much it. III is the first new Toner Low album since 2008’s II, and I was fortunate enough to be able to grab a CD copy at this year’s Roadburn. It’s been caving my skull in ever since.

It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and again I encounter a record for which the volume — whatever it might currently be — never seems like enough. Toner Low‘s III isn’t without its droning moments, harkening back to what the second album brought in terms of development from the more straightforwardly Sleep-derived 2006 self-titled debut, but one needs only to look at the bright, vivid, weedian imagery of the artwork (awash in secret, intricate hieroglyphs and containing the sound advice, “listen to Ween“) to get a beginning semblance of where the band is coming from. The four extended tracks — titled as “Phase Six” through “Phase Nine” — are no less stoned.

Mostly instrumental throughout their course, Toner Low nonetheless work in a few shouts on the opening “Phase Six” from guitarist Daan, before his voice like the rest of the universe gets swallowed in the seemingly unstoppable churn of low end. They keep a solid clip in the 10-minute opener (also the shortest track on III) but ride an ultra-slow lurch for most of the first half of “Phase Seven” before devolving the piece from its rumbling crash to minimal bass malevolence from Miranda and sporadic guitar notes while drummer Jack takes a break until just before the seven-minute mark, at which point he marches in the thick swirl of one of III‘s most righteous grooves, which they continue to push until well past 11 minutes in, at which point the swarming noise and effects take over and become abrasive at points, only to be drowned out by the re-emergent riff. Once again, like the rest of the universe.

Even at their slowest, most plodding point, Toner Low aren’t lacking movement, and that remains true in the subdued opening of “Phase Eight,” which begins with the guitar and drums before the bass returns to hint at some of the massiveness to come. Both Toner Low and II had their quiet moments, but here the trio uses the atmospheric take as the beginning point for an effective build, a wash of static gradually mounting with the rumble, airy guitar and steady drum beat, before at 3:45, the bass claims the lead position as the guitars wander off, and even Jack and Miranda come to an eventual halt before bringing the song to full impact just past five minutes into its total 13. The tonal brunt unveiled, the only thing left to build is the pace, and the trio sets to it almost immediately, winding up in a gear similar to that of the opener, but sounding more unhinged as the track shakes itself apart back to the initial guitar line and (relatively) peaceful feel.

Fall for it at your peril. Closer “Phase Nine” clocks in at 17:47 and is practically an album unto itself, with psychedelic effects, more of Miranda‘s ultra-low bass and the distinct impression that the only reason Toner Low didn’t decide to play this riff for an hour solid was they got bored and decided to get a snack instead. To call it Dopesmoker-worthy doesn’t feel like overstating it, though after the vibrations doled out by III‘s first three tracks, the last one might get lost on already-dazed listeners. If you need to break the record up into multiple sessions, it’s worth it. At 4:27, the band shifts into fuller motion, guitars spacing out over the consistent, hypnotic repetitions, and with a slowdown, drone-out and open-sounding section with vocals, they set the stage for a payoff riff that carries them past 12 minutes, at which point the song commences its own destruction, pushed past whatever sonic event horizon, into a surprising final few minutes of piano that are the finishing point.

A simple rule for life is anytime you run into a Toner Low record, you should buy it. In the case of III — which is out through an allegiance between the band’s own Roadkill Rekordz, Kozmik Artifactz and Freebird Records — it was one I knew I wanted even before I heard the first note, and I continue to be astounded that the three-piece can both be that heavy and manage to make the songs move at all. One listen to their tones and it just seems like something so mammoth a human being shouldn’t be able to make it go. But they do, when they choose to, and III winds up a listen that satisfies as much as it pummels. And that’s saying something, because this shit is seriously pummeling. Not to be missed.

Toner Low, III (2013)

Toner Low on Bandcamp

Toner Low on Thee Facebooks

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LONDON DESERTFEST 2013 Day Three: Shine in a Being

Posted in Features on April 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

04.28.13 — 11:13PM GMT — Sunday — Holiday Inn, Camden

The photo above is of my wristband for this year’s Desertfest. You’ll note it’s not attached to my wrist. I got back just a little bit ago from the Electric Ballroom and had meant to ask at the front desk of the hotel for them to cut it off with scissors, since it’s pretty sturdy material — it’s had to be to last these several days — but forgot on my way up and wound up just pulling it off around my hand. I feel like I should have it framed.

Late nights beget later nights, so I’m not gonna waste time here. Day three was no less righteous than one would have to expect after the first two. Here’s how it went down for me:

Throne

The other day I received a vehement recommendation to check out Throne, to which I responded, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure they played last year and were cool.” Turns out they did play Desertfest 2012, at The Underworld, but this year the trio moved over to The Black Heart, which was where my day began with their unpretentious Sleep riffing and nodding rhythms. They still didn’t have an album for sale downstairs that I could find, but The Black Heart was, as it has been this whole weekend, packed out. On my way through, I watched a couple seconds through the doorway in the spirit of Roadburn and found myself still persuaded by their languid pacing and largely-unfrilled stonery. I had finished my cup of coffee about two minutes before they started playing, so it was a cool way to wake up.

Blackstorm


Meanwhile, at The Underworld, Brighton/Manchester-based Blackstorm were dishing out a pounding the likes of which I’d not yet seen here. They were a band about whom I knew next to nothing, but their double-guitar uptempo crushcore was a longer way away from what Throne were doing at The Black Heart than the street that divided the two acts physically. I arrived part of the way through their set, which the five-piece delivered in lively fashion, with lots of movement, a swinging mic stand and big, chunky riffs set to breakdown beats. “Then You’ll Drown” was a burly basher, and I caught “Run with the Wolves” from their late-2012 EP, The Darkness is Getting Closer, which was distinguished by the dual vocals of guitarist Neil Kingsbury and frontman Karl Middleton. They were tight and had it together on stage, though my head was already preparing itself for the cleaving it would no doubt receive from who followed them.

Conan

Suddenly I had to wonder why I bothered bringing earplugs in the first place. British trio Conan weren’t through the second verse of “Hawk as Weapon” from last year’s low-end raging Monnos (review here) before I felt like they’d melted in my ear canal. Guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil just released their set from last year’s Roadburn as the new Mount Wrath CD and vinyl, and while that’s definitely a satisfying listen, I was glad to see them in-person again, because no matter how loud you turn up a record, I don’t know if there’s any way to do justice to what Conan are live. Beastly heavy. Heavy to whatever degree hyperbole you might want to put to it, and while that heaviness and Davis and Coumbe‘s tones are still the star of the show, the three-piece also have grown as a stage act since I last had the good fortune to see them. Coumbe‘s low growls and Davis‘ shouting worked especially well together, and in addition to “Hawk as Weapon,” “Battle in the Swamp” and “Grim Tormentor” from Monnos, Conan also played two new songs, “Foehammer” and “Gravity Chasm,” which continued the warmongering gallop of the earlier album tracks that set up an excruciatingly slow finale, all the while keeping their fury front and center and proving there’s more to their heaviness than what comes through their amps. The other day, when I got stopped by that customs agent, he accused me of trying to illegally emigrate to the UK. I’m still not planning on it, but Conan make a solid argument in favor of doing so.

Toner Low

Kudos to whoever handled scheduling the bands’ timeslots for putting Conan and Toner Low right next to each other. I’d never seen the Dutch three-piece before — they’re now in their 15th year and have just released their third album — but they actually share a lot in common with Conan in terms of their general ethic. They are unreasonably loud, unremittingly heavy in tone and seem like they’re ready to follow a riff anywhere it might lead them. The difference is aggression. Where Conan are all beheadings and mayhem, Toner Low are purely stoned. Toner Low played in the dark but for a psychedelic lightshow setup they placed in front of their drummer and a sheet with projected falling pot leaves on the guitarist/vocalist, but yeah, they’re about as stoner as stoner gets, working in elements of more primal drone here and there, but keeping a solid foundation of riffs at hand at almost all times. They brought their own rigs, which made sense for the bassist since her gear was different from what seemed to be on hand, but the guitar — which seemed to be actually coated in resin from the look of it — ran through an Orange half-stack and amp they brought, and there’s been so much Orange around Desertfest I can practically taste it. I can’t argue with their having done it, though, since Toner Low sounded unbelievably good. I bought their new record and am looking forward to checking it out.

Naam

Naam beckoned. I won’t lie, there was a part of me that was like, “Why the hell would you go to London and see a band you can see in New York?” The other part of me was all, “No way dude, this is gonna be awesome. Naam have a new record coming out,” and that part of me won. Once a trio, now a foursome and tonight playing as a five-piece with the addition of a second guitar — not that they were lacking texture before, but more never hurts — Naam‘s universe seems to be in permanent expansion, both in terms of their lineup and their sound. Tonight was the best I’ve seen them play, and I’ve seen them play a few really killer shows. The integration of John Weingarten‘s keys along with Ryan Lugar‘s guitar/vocals, John Bundy‘s bass/vocals and Eli Pizzuto‘s drums is complete, and to show that, “Starchild” from last year’s The Ballad of the Starchild EP was the highlight of their whole set, though “Beyond” from their forthcoming sophomore full-length, Vow, came pretty close. They’ve nearly perfected a balance between stoner riffing and Hawkwindian space rush, and not surprisingly, their heavy psych went over huge at the Electric BallroomNaam are just starting a two-month European and UK tour that will have them in this part of the world for a while — perhaps it’s telling of their relative receptions that they’ll be in Europe when Vow releases — so I imagine they’ll only further solidify, but already they played a headliner’s set, closing as always with “Kingdom” from the EP of the same name (it also appeared on their 2009 debut LP), the layers of which shimmered with psychedelic vibes prior to a full-on freakout at the end of pushed-over drums and guitar destruction. Awesome.

Truckfighters


Here’s a direct quote from my notes on Truckfigters‘ set: “Everyone in the world who’s never seen Truckfighters live is a jive sucker and that’s that.” More or less, that covers my feelings on the matter. The Örebro trio — Ozo on vocals/bass, Dango on guitar and now Poncho on drums — are easily the most energetic and engaging fuzz rock acts I’ve ever seen, and before they were through perpetual opener “Desert Cruiser,” both Ozo and Dango had gone past the monitors at the front of the stage to be closer to the crowd, who were singing along loud enough to be heard over the instruments. But Truckfighters — who are fresh off a tour with Norwegian blackened punkers Kvelertak and shortly headed to Australia and New Zealand for a run of shows — aren’t just getting their cardio in, they’re also nailing the material and delivering it with a genuine sense of spontaneity and the impression that anything can happen at any given moment, such as Ozo jumping into the crowd during closer “In Search of The” or the band launching into “Chameleon” after someone in the crowd requested it, jamming on “Desert Cruiser” or unveiling two new songs, the first which fit (“fett?”) well with the bounce of “Monte Gargano,” which came later, and the second which had a fuller, fuzzier shuffle in the beginning and wound up thicker but still moving, with a quick bass and drum break to set up a return to what seemed on first impression to be a solid hook. “Majestic” was welcome, and from their audience interaction to the tightness of their performance — at one point Dango fell on stage after jumping off the drum riser and didn’t even stop playing as he got up — there are few records supposedly coming out before the end of this year that I’m looking forward to as much as the new Truckfighters.

Colour Haze

An hour hardly seemed like enough time for a proper Colour Haze set. Back in September 2012, the ultra-influential Munich heavy psych trio rolled through London and did a full three hours, complete with guest appearances, keys, and so on. Still, I’ll take what I can get, and when it came to “Transformation” from She Said (review here) — my album of the year last year — I still heard the horn parts in my head even though no one was playing them live, so I’m not about to bitch that the experience was somehow lacking. It wasn’t. Colour Haze were a complete 180 in terms of presence from Truckfighters, mostly subdued, no jumping, no running around, plenty of grooving, but less about getting the heart rate up than giving the audience something to shut its eyes and get lost in. As guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philip Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald jammed past “Moon” from 2008’s All and into “Love” from their ’04 self-titled, they were so locked into what they were doing that the real miracle of it seemed to be they didn’t lose the crowd in the slightest. An extended take only gave everyone watching more to dig on, so that by the time “Peace, Brothers and Sisters” and “Tempel” came around, the Electric Ballroom was suitably hypnotized. Seriously, I just wanted to give them money. Like, “Here, Colour Haze, I have 50 Euro left over from last weekend. Please take it.” I’ve seen them before — their set at Emissions from the Monolith in 2006 changed my life (ask me about it sometime), and at one or two Roadburn fests along the way — but even though this felt like a sampling, it was ultra-satisfying to watch these godfathers of the modern European scene do what quite simply nobody does better. As I already knew I wouldn’t be staying for the entire Pentagram set, Colour Haze were sort of my closeout for Desertfest, and I couldn’t have asked for a warmer farewell than that. They were masterful.

Pentagram

I got a press release earlier this week that oft-imitated doom pioneers Pentagram had a new guitarist in the form of Philly-based Matt Goldborough, but that the lineup was otherwise the same as when Victor Griffin was still slinging axe, with Sean Saley on drums and Greg Turley on bass with frontman/defining presence Bobby Liebling on vocals. Of course, lineup changes are nothing new for Liebling‘s band — their legacy is as much about tumult as it is about the riff to “Forever My Queen” — but Griffin‘s presence brought a certain legitimacy to Pentagram‘s recent run and their 2011 Last Rites comeback album (review here), and his departure, whatever the circumstances may have been, changes the context of the band, Griffin — who also played today with his new outfit In~Graved — being one of very few others who’ve done time in Pentagram who can lay reasonable claim to the material. He may well have come out to guest on guitar (I recall seeing the band in 2009 when he wasn’t with them and that happened), but if he did, I wasn’t there to see it. I stayed for about four songs and then had to split to come back to the hotel, write and pack for my flight out tomorrow. For the portion I did catch, however — “Day of Reckoning,” “Forever My Queen,” “Treat Me Right” and “Livin’ in a Ram’s Head” — Pentagram were tight and Liebling was Liebling. There are few things as much fun to watch in a concert setting as Bobby Liebling flipping out to a guitar solo. Like he hasn’t been staring at them for 40 years now. Awesome. Turley and Saley have the material on lockdown, and as the new guy, Goldborough more than held his own on guitar, a younger presence giving some freshness to what might just as easily have come across stale otherwise. I’ve seen worse from Pentagram, and though one can dream of this or that reunion lineup, the simple fact that they exist and persist is to be… respected? Maybe. Probably. Definitely gazed at in astonishment. And so they were.

I have work to do. As in, for my job. And so I know that Desertfest, as blissful as it has been, must be over. My plan is to write up some concluding thoughts for this whole trip tomorrow on the plane, and I’ll include a thanks list with that, but before I switch off to picture-sorting mode, I just want to say it’s been an absolute pleasure and an honor to be back here in Camden this weekend, to see the bands I’ve been lucky enough to be here to see and to meet the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. This place is awesome (but for the weather), the music is great and I feel like even more than last year, Desertfest is developing a genuine vibe all its own. I was beat today, t-i-r-e-d, but at the same time, I knew I wanted to take as much of the proceedings in as possible, because when I’m back home slogging away in the office, I’m going to miss it.

More to come tomorrow, and more pics after the jump. Thanks as always for reading.

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Toner Low Unveil First Sounds from New Album III, Due Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 18th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Science — whose greatest hits include gravity and, more recently, the Higgs boson — has proven time and again that Dutch trio Toner Low are as heavy as, if not heavier than, your face. Next month, the heft purveyors will unleash their first album in five years, III, on CD, tape and LP.

Not much of a surprise, but it sounds heavy as hell. Toner Low‘s fattened fuzz is many things, and in the trailer posted below, which feature song samples from the upcoming, you can find out just a few of the descriptors that the band use for themselves. Spoiler alert: “Meaner” is included. Enjoy:

When the time comes, you can get yourself some Toner Low at their BigCartel store.

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