Back in July RTM stumbled across a record by a band called Monster Truck. “Furiosity” it was called and it was just one of those things the musical obsessive finds every now and again. You don’t hold out much hope for it, then you stick it on.
The album is beyond stunning, it rivals Clutch’s “Earth Rocker” as the album of the year so far – apt really because essentially they are what Neil Fallon’s boys would sound like if they had a Hammond organ. Truck are making waves in their native Canada, where their “Old Lion” single is number one and the album sits at 13 in the Billboard charts. And if nothing else it proves just how far we lag behind our friends from overseas in the taste stakes.
It was, therefore, with a genuine frisson of excitement that we saw that the Monster boys were opening for Vista Chino. So while there are 500 people crammed in here tonight dewy eyed over the return of what is effectively Kyuss, we are ready to anoint what is genuinely our new favourite band around here.
And by god, they do not disappoint us. Singer and bass man Jon Harvey stands in the middle of the stage belting out the songs, while guitarist Jeremy Widerman does his best Janick Gers impression, twirling round like a lunatic. For 40 minutes they keep us transfixed and if you have heard the record you know why, whether it is “Old Train,” “Boogie” or “Undercover Love” they all sound absolutely magnificent, while closer “Call It A Spade” is so good that you forgive them for not playing our favourite song “Sweet Mountain River.” The Truck are monstrously good, get on board and tell them we sent you.
After that, to be frank, we could have gone home and been perfectly happy with our lives, but Vista Chino are a pretty exciting proposition in their own right. They had better be because there is an inordinate wait before they take the stage.
Half of the men on stage are staples from Kyuss, one of the most critically acclaimed stoner rock bands of all time. They briefly returned as Kyuss lives, before that dissolved into a lot of lawsuits and rancor. So John Garcia and Brant Bjork regrouped, released the “Peace” album as Vista Chino and have added Corrosion Of Conformity bass genius Mike Dean for this jaunt. Not that you would recognise Dean given since we last saw him, last year at Bloodstock, he has grown a magnificent perm.
The set is heavy on Kyuss numbers as you would expect, but they do kick off with “Adara” from their own record. It is riff heavy, of course and Bruno Fevery’s guitar work is to the fore throughout, but we are soon into the band that made them all famous, with “One Inch Man” rampaging out of the speakers.
John Garcia is not a particularly outgoing frontman, indeed he seems content to wrestle with his mic stand throughout, and all is going swimmingly until they lose guitar around half way in. For a band that needs its riffs as much as Chino, this is a bit of a blow and they do lose a little momentum, which never quite returns as the second half of things is punctured by some lengthy jams. The encore of “Planets 1 & 2” brings us back to Chino, but Kyuss finish us off with “Whitewater” and “Odyssey” and the set is brought to a rattling conclusion.
In the context of our world, though, Vista Chino were just a bonus – as far as we were concerned they were here to support Monster Truc