MONSTER MAGNET / ELECTRIC CITIZEN / DARK SKY CHOIR
Date: 02nd October, 2018
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
It had been a really long time since MONSTER MAGNET’s last visit in Chicago and this was a powerful reason to drive down to Bottom Lounge on a Tuesday night. But this was not the only one and, most probably, the most convincing reason; you see, Space Lord and his band had d(r)opped the Metal scene with the solid full length “Mindfucker” which lives up to the expectation this band has been creating all these years.
The proof that both of the aforementioned reasons were powerful enough was the filled venue we encountered upon entering the always welcoming Bottom Lounge during the last songs of DARK SKY CHOIR’s set. Ok, the audience was a bit cold during the set, even though the groovy Hard Rock these guys were playing was a perfect fit to get the concert juices flowing. In the end I think DARK SKY CHOIR managed to crack the rather hard shell of the Bottom Lounge audience and saw a bit of reaction during the nice cover of MÖTLEY CRÜE’s “Knocked ‘Em Dead Kid”. It is unfortunate to get some reaction with a cover and not with original music, but sometimes desperate times require desperate measures...
The last band before the coming of our beloved Space Lord was about to completely change the musical aesthetics from the modern styled Hard Rock to the ‘70s inspired primitive Doom Metal, and of course I am refereeing to their strong BLACK SABBATH influences shining through at any given chance. The great thing was that ELECTRIC CITIZEN had a fanbase present that night, so the mood really brightened up as soon as the stage had been prepped to host the band from Ohio. Everything about this band looked and sounded vintage, so I totally understand the excitement the moment Laura Dolan greeted us asking “Are you ready, Chicago?” before letting “Heart Attack” to do the rest. The in-your-face riff, the pounding rhythm section topped off by Laura’s high pitched singing consisted the energy boost we were looking for to get into the right mood. Ross Dolan’s riffs sounded as old-school as his coil guitar cabled looked… For some bizarre reason, I have acquired the habit of trusting each guitarist who is using such a vintage guitar cable, especially when ‘70s influenced Rock / Metal is on the menu. But ELECTRIC CITIZEN did not rely only on those two, and I will give extra-special-super-duper kudos to drummer Nate Wagner who was pounding the skins like there was no tomorrow while making all those grimaces playing with the people at the front rows. Without stopping, “Hide It In The Night” came next and it was interesting to watch how restless Laura made the stage looked too small to hold her. Ok, having two drum-sets on the Bottom Lounge stage does not leave enough space for the supporting bands, but her electrifying energy was too much to contain. However, it was exactly what we needed, since live shows this early in the week can be tough as far as the audience’s participation goes.
After the three-song suite from the band’s latest album, it was time to visit the ELECTRIC CITIZEN debut with the sweat riff bearing “Beggar’s Need”. Oh yeah, the wailing-Ozzy-like vocals combined with another solid rhythm section were awesome, and a solid indication why this band has gained so much traction. Their music and, most importantly, their onstage presence feel honest and not like just another copycats or wanna-sound-likes. “New Earth” slowed things a bit but at the same time highlighted the melody in ELECTRIC CITIZEN’s music and made a killer antithesis with the faster and in-your-face rocking “Ripper”. “We just released our new album and you are hearing a lot of material from that”, said Laura making absolutely sense because promoting your latest release is the only way to spread your word. The “N.I.B.” sounding “Lunch” came loud as it should, and seeing Laura hitting the mic stand as if she wanted to break it, it was a clear indication of the energy build-up after connecting with the Chicago audience. “Oh shit, we came to our last song but we will be at our merch booth”, said Laura (before promoting the drummer’s hot sauce that was on sale... I did not check whether she was joking...), and then, let the hit “Light Years Beyond” drop the curtain. Indeed, the ELECTRIC CITIZEN set felt short in duration, because the crowd’s participation took some time to get up to hard rockin’ standards, but once it did, it felt absolutely great. I guess, we will be seeing ELECTRIC CITIZEN more often, and this is most welcomed!
ELECTRIC CITIZEN setlist:
01. “Heart Attack”
02. “Hide It In The Night”
03. “Cold Blooded Blue”
04. “Beggar’s Need”
05. “Shallow Water”
06. “New Earth”
09. “Light Years Beyond”
(click to enlarge)
The close ranks in front of the stage meant that more people had entered the venue just in time to catch the headliners. Yes, the atmosphere inside Bottom Lounge bore enough excitement to make that Tuesday feel like a Friday, so everything was ready for Stoner Gods MONSTER MAGNET. The only downside was that the access to the photo-pit had been denied following the band’s instructions. I have no idea why this happened but it made the photo-shooting a real hassle because moving inside a packed venue can be annoying to the one doing it, but also to the people who were asked to accommodate this nuisance. On the other hand, it was a bunch of photographers having this trouble because the rest of the audience were more than happy to ignore this and have fun with set opener “Dopes To Infinity” which brought an extremely happy-looking Space Lord onstage who spent the first non-singing moments greeting the fans at the front-rows. With the help of some psychedelic video projections at the back of the stage, the atmosphere was MONSTER MAGNET-ized and immediately the groove started bouncing from the PAs onto the audience and back up to the stage again. Usually a US MONSTER MAGNET tour coincides with a new album release, so the first “Mindfucker” songs came without pausing having “Rocket Freak” and “Soul” kicking up the bpms a bit. Mr. Dave Wyndorf looked happy as a clam and was constantly smiling spreading the party-mood all around, but looking at the faces of the audience I don’t believe he faced any resistance...Yeah, “Powertrip” marked the first climax of the night with many middle fingers raised in the air, while the singing-along “I’m never gonna work another day in my life” was as loud as I would expected to be. For reasons I cannot put my finger on, the chorus lyrics always make me smile when looking people from all ages stating as loud as possible that they will never work another day... Talking about party mood, right?
“Chicago, we are back, baby! How are you all doing?”, asked Dave and I am sure he got the answer he was looking for just by noticing the loud cheer he got in response. The drum-driven tempo of “Radiation Day” stopped the talking and got us back into the grooving mood. The sound was loud and clear, and the video projections gave an extra push to the kind of atmosphere only MONSTER MAGNET know how to create; you know, the one that seems to be a mix of the ‘70s all the way to the modern days we are all living. You can never go wrong with lyrics reading “the mountain screamed three times today” from “Look To Your Orb For The Warning” bringing along what I like to describe as the New Orleans groove. Even though outside the weather was wearing its winter coat, inside Bottom Lounge the air was hot and humid… Whenever Dave was not fiddling with his guitar, he was tweaking a set of effect pedals keeping the dope-atmosphere intact without messing with the setlist flow. Yeah, the talking was kept at minimum, so the focus was on the music and on the atmosphere it brought along with the pounding “Dinosaur Vacume” and the fresh awesomeness by the guitar-driven-groovy “When The Hammer Comes Down”. Playing the songs back-to-back highlighted the quality of the latest MONSTER MAGNET LP because moving from the old to the new did not disturb the flow and that’s a huge success, if you think about it.
Well, there is no way to do this without talking a bit...”It’s an absolute fuckin’ pleasure being here tonight”, said Dave before asking for the audience’s participation in singing the reply-lyrics to Space Lord... Having 200 people shouting “motherfucker” can only be extremely fun. Phil Caivano started off the trademark guitar chords helping Dave to effectively explain how the singing-along would go. And it did go as loud as possible, marking this as one of the night’s highlights. Seeing the band saying goodnight after this seemed appropriate as the gathered momentum and excitement would definitely request MONSTER MAGNET back. This is what happened, and minutes later Space Lord and Co. were back for a long encore. No, there were just two songs on the setlist, and “Tractor” sure speeded things up even though it lasted around 4 minutes, but “Spine Of God” was stretched with some jamming along and I believe it flirted reaching 15 minutes in duration. But it was fun diving headfirst into this type of ‘70s-infused jamming, and this is why everyone was happy and doped after the drop of the curtain. Yeah, MONSTER MAGNET seemed to have fresh fuel in their tanks, so you better check ‘em out while you still can.
MONSTER MAGNET setlist:
01. “Dopes To Infinity”
02. “Rocket Freak”
05. “Radiation Day”
06. “Look To Your Orb For The Warning”
07. “Dinosaur Vacume”
08. “When The Hammer Comes Down”
09. “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”
10. “Space Lord”
12. “Spine Of God”
(click to enlarge)