- LA’s, The Warlocks, played Mama Roux’s on June 28th
- Support came from The Hungry Ghosts and Violet
- Guitar fuzz and distortion was the theme of the night
Violet are definitely a band lurking in the shadows of anonymity. Collectively dressed in black and with long hair that virtually keeps the bassist hidden throughout the entire set, they cause a shoe-gazing ruckus that combines the psych leanings of Peace (the front-man is a double for Harry Koisser) with aspirations of My Bloody Valentine. The last song of their set ‘Fade’ is a belter which jumps out of the static swell on a new wave bass riff, running wild and free.
For anyone with a nervous disposition or an aversion to drone rock look away now because LA’s The Warlocks are drone masters! Taking their title from a band name adopted by both the Grateful Dead and The Velvet Underground in their early incarnations, the four strong guitar force backed by drums cast their powerful evil magic over a small midweek Digbeth crowd.
Led by guitarist Bobby Hecksher, the LA five-piece combine heavy riffs, feedback and distortion to create a barrage of sound. The obvious influence of The Velvet Underground runs deep in their veins, from the guitar screeches that bring to mind John Cale’s warped violin to song titles, such as, ‘Song for Nico’ and beyond. But though the Velvets are an obvious reference point, they draw from a heady mix of 60’s influences. The driving riff of ‘Dope Feels Good’ sets it out as the hard drinking, hard living biker cousin of The Monkees’ ‘Little Bit Me Little Bit You’, subverting the breezy West Coast vibe, whilst ‘Hurricane Heart Attack’ revs up to be a track that could ride pillion with Peter Fonda in Easy Rider.
As the guitars scream and shriek in fury like they are sound-tracking the death of the psychedelic hippie dream, the imploding Altamont moment, Jason Anchondo’s drums fight for survival, so much so that a resultant broken snare requires a pause whilst a replacement is found before the bedlam can begin again.
New track ‘Lonesome Bulldog’ from their forthcoming seventh album, Songs from the Pale Eclipse, is a slice of Neil Young indebted country rock that washes over rather than drags you into the miasma. Hecksher’s soft vocals combined with the merciless guitars add a Placebo effect, an entry point into tracks like ‘Come Save Us’ that end with metallic squalls conjured up by John Christian Rees’ guitar.
Save for Hecksher’s little foray into the crowd during ‘Angry Demons’, the band stand mainly resolute and motionless on stage, shrouded by twilight smoke and the blood red neon glow of the Mama Roux’s sign. The power and dynamic is completely bound up in the sound that the five-piece craft. It’s as if the compelling riffs carve out a credo that is given over to the audience as a source of empowerment.
A request by Hecksher to “pull some funny dance moves” for the cartoony bounce of ‘Caveman Rock’ from their debut album, Rise and Fall, is met with exactly that. By the end of the set, the energy has completely spilled over into the crowd as ‘Zombie Like Lovers’ causes some un-zombie like moshing.
What kind of sorcery is this? Hell knows but it sure is intoxicating!
Photography by Radek Kubiszyn