Sunday, March 23, 2014

Desert Cruiser

Truckfighters / Crowbot
DNA Lounge, San Francisco
March 20, 2014

The day started with me taking an 8:00am flight to Los Angeles and then spending all day in LaLa Land working.  Then I was back on a 7:00pm flight home. I was also in the throes of a Randy Rhoads nostalgia trip since the anniversary of his death was this week.

"Feeling like I should have kept my feet on the ground.. Waiting for the sun to appear.." 

Then at 9:30pm I was driving to the DNA to see Truckfighters who were due to go on at 10:30pm.  It was one of those surgically precise days that Umlaut has not pulled off in awhile.  Tonight was in the upstairs small room of the DNA.  It was cute how the DNA staff outside asked me twice what band I was there to see to make sure I didn't wander into the other event in their big room by mistake.  Regardless, the small upstairs room was nicely packed for Truckfighters which was a pleasant surprise on a school night. 

Crowbot weren't necessarily bad, but I think it's safe to say they have a lot of Monster Magnet on their iTunes.  During the first song the guitarist copped Steve Vai's stage move of flipping his guitar around his back in between riffs not once but twice... and then he did it a couple of more times.  Someone should have tapped him on the shoulder at that point and told him to stop; it was cute once, maybe twice, but unless you're Steve Vai just play, please.  I would have been really into them in 1994 but here in 2014 I had a private conversation with a beer during their set.

Admittedly, I did not know much about Truckfighters going into the show.  I also didn't find out until the next day that, despite having been a band for 13 years, tonight was Truckfighter's first visit ever to San Francisco.  I will cut to the chase and say that Truckfighters are my new favorite Swedish band.  They are bringing the power trio back!  How do you say "power trio" in Swedish?  I'm also thankful I was able to see their first S.F. show so I don't feel as much of a poser for not knowing about them, like, 9 years ago when their debut album came out.  It's the little things in life...

The band is definitely a high energy live act, but tonight they might have been tempered a bit by the small stage and the low ceiling of the DNA Annex.  It didn't matter because the band's strong songs, musicianship, and attitude more than made up for any jumping around they might have done otherwise.  I was impressed with how the dynamics of their songs wrapped the room with tones intertwining with riffs intertwining with a thundering bottom end and a profound fuzzy groove.

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

The great Stoner Rock bands have a distinctive guitar tone that locks in with everything else, and that's exactly what Truckfighters have going on.  All of the bands use the same template, but the great ones add their own special sauce.  How do you say "special sauce" in Swedish?  Their attitude and personality also reminded me of another great Swedish Rock band The Hellacopters.  I'm enamored how the Truckfighters' heaviness isn't obvious until it crushes you like a 16-wheeler running without its headlights on as you cross the street at night... and then they serenade your crumpled body like a melodic breeze through the trees... only to run you over again.

If Stoner Rock had been born in a Swedish desert Truckfighters would be huge; fuzz with an accent.  Also, $12 tonight for Truckfighters seemed like a way better deal than the $50 for Queens of the Stone Age here next month.  The next day I went out (okay.. online) and ordered all of Truckfighters' albums.  It seems like a lot of things are done better in Sweden.  Why is that?

I didn't do a Truckfighters merch audit, but I only had $20 left on me and spent it on the vinyl of their Mania album.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  It was really cool for jaded Umlaut to be won over by a band again; there is hope for me yet.