Monster Magnet at Fitzgerald's, 12/3/2013

Monster Magnet, Royal Thunder, Anti-Mortem, Venomous Maximus Fitzgerald's December 3, 2013

Tuesday night rock shows are always a dicey proposition. Staying up late and partying on a work night sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice, fans are often too hesitant to really cut loose when they know they're going to have to face the alarm clock bright and early on the same morning that they stumbled out of the club.

Naturally, the best shows are the ones that make you forget not only that you've got to get up and go to work in the morning, but that the very concepts of work and responsibility exist. Experienced rockers know that these shows are few and far between, but we got one last night when the mighty Monster Magnet touched down at Fitzgerald's.

There was already a nice crowd of people inside the creaky old joint by the time the music began, courtesy of local metal sovereigns Venomous Maximus, taking a break from preparing their new album for release to fill Fitz with their familiar, doomy riffage. Heads bobbed enthusiastically for the chugging newer cuts "Dark Way" and "Angel Heart," both of which drew big cheers.

Shouldn't be long now until we hear a full suite of fresh material from Venomous at a big headlining gig, likely on the very same stage. Stay tuned.

Up next was Oklahoma's Anti-Mortem, the kind of straight-ahead heavy metal band that sounds better and better the more beer you guzzle. I was prepared to be a little bored by their stomping, mid-tempo tunes, but the sheer enthusiasm and glee that Anti-Mortem brought to their performance was infectious. As guitarists Nevada Romo and Zain Smith traded finger-tapping solos, I began to come around.

By the time Smith and singer Larado Romo hopped offstage to headbang in the crowd during their set-closer, "100% Pure American Rage," many of those around me had been converted by their showmanship, as well.

Even more memorable was Royal Thunder, the Atlanta trio that sounds like Black Sabbath fronted by Dead Sara's Emily Armstrong. Singer/bassist MLny Parsonz held the crowd rapt with a powerful, soulful voice ideally suited to rock and roll, while guitarist Josh Weaver bowled them over with his phasered Gibson SG. It was heavy rock at its most potent, ramping up from soft, feminine cooing into passionate retro wailing over and over again. If you're into dark and heavy Southern electricity, keep an eye on these three.

As for Monster Magnet? Shit, nobody could touch them on Tuesday.

Review continues on the next page.

The floor was suddenly crowded as bandleader Dave Wyndorf and his group of stony, sci-fi compadres took the stage, calmly brimming with supreme confidence. With a psychedelic projection screen already humming right along behind them, the men of the Magnet carried themselves with the air of a band that knew they had an audience right were they wanted them.

And why not? Wyndorf is a total ringer: an old-school rock star with the kind of effortless charisma that keeps all eyes on him during a performance. He kept a guitar slung way down low over his hips, banging out heavy chords on songs like "Nod Scene" and "Dopes to Infinity," but it was the audience that he played like an instrument, smoothly gesticulating and eyeballing each of us as if conducting an orchestra of headbangers.

"What's happenin,' dudes?" he asked us with a grin. "Y'all wanna take a ride?"

What followed was a psychedelic journey to the center of the scrotum, cascading over us in waves of slinky, hypnotic grooves that swelled into sweaty, pulverizing rock. Enhanced by intense, colored strobes and scenes of interstellar apocalypse on the screen behind the band, it was irresistible to simply lose yourself in the hysteria.

A major highlight of the set was the never-ending "Spine of God," slithering from an itching vamp into a punishing, galactic freakout that Wyndorf rode like a surfer on a wave. Though hardly a young man at this point, the front man's voice proved still supple and elastic as he drew the crowd in before working them to a lathery release.

The unhinged shout-along to "Space Lord" (motherfucker!) that capped Monster Magnet's set might have been the most memorable moment of the night for most, but it's that extended trip through outer space on "Spine of God" that took me out of myself on Tuesday night. It sure beat sitting behind a desk on Wednesday morning, let me tell you.

Enjoyed the trip, Dave. Let's do it again sometime.

Personal Bias: Working stiff.

The Crowd: White, over 30 and ready to rock out.

Overheard In the Crowd: (Glumly) "You can't smoke in there, can you?"

Random Notebook Dump: For a band with Monster Magnet's stoner-rock pedigree, I didn't catch a whiff of the weed on Tuesday. How responsible of you, Houston!


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