Yawning Man + Gunther Prague + Bear Head @ The Phoenix, Coventry – 20th June 2019


Stomping like a bear with a sore head the appropriately titled Bear Head have a sound pounds and pummels with some meaty riffs. However the band pull a lot of influences to create their sound and original tunes like ‘Business’ really swing with a southern rock groove while ‘The Code’ rampages like Sabbath fighting with Down. With an effervescent frontman the band can’t go wrong and they should be on your watch list.

Local act Gunther Prague are a three piece who play a furious brand of post-punk. Assaulting the crowd with repetitious riffs they create a huge wall of sound inside which there are plenty of neat time changes that keep things interesting. With a lyrical astuteness that places the band somewhere between the Minutemen and Queens of the Stone Age they turn in an energetic and entertaining set.

Anything but yawn inducing California’s Yawning Man bring their sun drenched sound to Coventry. Their latest album Macedonian Lines is barely a month old yet it’s already attained legendary status and tonight they open their set with the title track from that opus. Simultaneously ethereal and heavy Yawning Man have a sound that’s designed to transport you to another world and ‘Macedonian Lines’ has a real hypnotic feel. Undoubtedly the band have absorbed something of their native La Quinta in sonics that evoke endless desert plains and vast crystalline skies. On the beautiful ‘Melancholy Sadie’ guitarist Gary Acre paints small concentric guitar lines which bassist Mario Lalli circles with a thudding loop. Gary and Mario have been performing together since the bands inception way back in 1988 and the undeniable chemistry they share gives Yawning Man a freedom which they use to expand their songs with an almost jazz sensibility. In Bill Stinson the band have a hard hitting drummer who knows when to exercise restraint and allows the songs to fly like Floyd on ‘Virtual Funeral’ or crush like Crowbar on ‘Bowie’s Last Breath’.

The best thing about an instrumental band is the lack of banal banter in between songs as the tunes effortlessly segue together and patiently build monolithic structures from sonics. It’s obvious why Yawning Man are leading proponents of the desert rock genre but what really shines through is the bands love of music. With a distinct lack of pretension it could easily be your friends rocking on stage tonight as ‘I’m Not a Real Indian (But I Play One on TV)’ brings their set to a suitably cataclysmic finale.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis.