Monster Magnet, King of the North, Arrowhead, The Hi Fi, Sydney, 4/04/2014

A night of riffs and trips.

Oh great, the bloody football's on. The location of Sydney's Hi Fi is inconveinient enough as it is, but the fact that it's located right near Allianz Stadium means that while lining up for the gig, we have to endure the moronic japes of the half-pissed troglodytes streaming past to tonight's rugby league game.

Fortunately, once doors opened we could leave the dickheads and shitty weather outside and enjoy the warmly welcoming riffs of opening band Arrowhead. This Sydney three-piece got the proceedings off to a good start with their energetic performance and hooky take on 70s' inflected stoner rock. The great advantage of playing stoner rock is that it's easy to get into, even if you've never heard the band before, and that it's always more enjoyable in a live setting. The heavy rythmic guitar and focus on grooves you can dance to makes it nearly impossible to not enjoy. As Arrowhead's set finished I found myself thinking that if this level of quality could be maintained, we would be in for a good night.

I shouldn't have worried because the next band, King of the North, absolutely shook the house. The band itself consisted of onlt two members, Andrew Higgs on guitar/vocals and Danny Leo on drums/backup vocals. They more than made up for this brevity of band membership by having the biggest sound of the night by a mile. One guitar filled out the same amount of sonic space that is usually occupied by two guitars and a bass as well. at first I thought the bass had to be sampled, but seeing Higgs performing bass lines on his guitar made me doubt myself. Looking at their website later, they claim that everything is 100% performed live, which is bloody amazing frankly. Leo was no slouch either, being an absolute demon behind the kit and providing solid backup vocals. His long curling locks and the intensity in which he beat those skins had me thinking he might just be an illegitimate child of Brant Bjork. Someone should look into that.

The performance was top notch, the songs were equally catchy and heavy and frankly they were the band of the night for me.

Monster Magnet took to the stage to much adulation. Launching straight into the trippy title track to their latest work, Last Patrol, the band set about doing their thing and doing it well. Next up was Tractor  off their Powertrip opus and the Dopes to Infinity title track, which injected some great stoner guitar work to the show. The out and out energy of the support acts wasn't really replicated in Monster Magnet's set, replaced instead by the more contemplative ebbs and flows of their doped out space rock sound.

I must admit to really only being a casual fan of the band, and as such I found myself slipping in and out of focus through their set. Perhaps this is the band's intent, as there is as much focus on psychedelia as there is on riffs in Monster Magnet's music. A good example of which was the inclusion of a Donovan cover, Three Kingfishers, into the set and having it fit in perfectly.

The band all played well and vocalist Dave Wyndorf displayed an admirable level of snotty attitude, taking pot shots at the crowd for talking too much and yelling out dumb shit. On paper everything was up to par, but it didn't stop me from feeling underwhelmed.

After the main set had ended, we were subjected to a tediously long wait for the band to come on and play their encore. When they finally did, we were treated to three of their strongest songs and they ended the evening well with the inimitable Space Lord.

Monster Magnet played a decent set and I have to respect their longevity, but I honestly came out of that gig far more excited to see the next King of the North show.