Vista Chino + Monster Truck @ The Institute (Library), Birmingham – Thursday 31 October 2013

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Review by Chop, photos by Sean Larkin

Whilst Halloween pranks were in full swing elsewhere, gathered in the Library were an expectant throng chomping at the bit for tonight’s bands.

Monster Truck
Monster Truck

Having made quite an impression at this year’s Download Festival, by all accounts, Monster Truck returned for their first full UK tour. On tonight’s evidence there will be many more tours to come all being well. In impact terms, if not directly stylistically, this was comparable to Lonely Kamel’s stunning set with The Sword earlier in the year. Paying homage to the greats of yesteryear, whilst incorporating modern nuances, their set balanced power and groove perfectly. If a heady concoction of Deep Purple, Cream, Free, Thin Lizzy, and to a degree ZZ Top, sounds like your thing then do everything in your power to check them out sooner rather than later. Impeccably slick as a band, with vocals that fitted perfectly, their potential is staggering. Still early in their career, with but two EP s and this year’s début album behind them, they’re one to get behind and cherish as they scale the inevitable heights.

Vista Chino
Vista Chino

In the beginning there was Kyuss. Then Kyuss Lives! After lengthy litigation we now have Vista Chino. Whatever their band name may now be, and whatever genre you care to attribute to them, be it desert rock, stoner, or a myriad of other descriptives, it’s all immaterial – they’re simply fine showmen, with a collection of fine songs, intent on slaying all before them and making it look ridiculously easy. They kept reminding me of Baroness in their relentless ability to entertain. From the meticulously laid out stage, the beautifully symmetrical backline, to the crisp yet concussive sound, Vista Chino were spectacularly good. The crowd’s reaction said it all, equal parts reverential and rabid as the band worked their way through a mesmerising performance. Much as I’m a fan of all forms of extremity and darkness musically speaking, the contrast between the usual warp factor velocity and skull crushing force was a refreshing change; the band’s fluidity and focus more than compensated.

Efficiency is perhaps as good a word as any to sum it all up. Efficiency of effort whilst still displaying high levels of skill and application. Efficiency of the staging, no frills yet effective, accompanying without being distracting. Even when things went wrong – and there were several lengthy technical issues with the guitar rig for starters – there was an efficiency to the way the issues were resolved. All comes with experience of course, and a trusted crew, but there was a degree of slickness to it all that was a joy to behold.

Vista Chino
Vista Chino

During their hour and a half on stage there were only two crowd addresses of any note – one each from vocalist John and drummer Brant – and they weren’t really needed. The music did the talking and they packed in as much of it as they could. Intriguingly, after all that time in court, the set consisted of half a dozen songs off the new album ‘Peace’ with the remainder being Kyuss ‘covers’. Not that anyone in the crowd was at all bothered by that – they were all having way too much fun. All in all this was a great performance, from a great band, up there with the best sets I’ve seen this year without any doubt. Festival dates and another full UK tour for 2014 please!

Set list:
1. Adara
2. One Inch Man
3. Dargana Dragona
4. Hurricane
5. Sweet Remain
6. Gardenia
7. As You Wish
8. Asteroid
9. Supa Scoopa And Mighty Scoop
10. Dark And Lovely
11. Thumb
12. Green Machine
13. Freedom Run

Encore:
14. Planets 1 & 2
15. Whitewater
16. Odyssey

See more of Sean’s photos here: