L.A. band The Warlocks wear their influences very proudly on their sleeves. Mix a cupful of Spacemen 3 with an equal measure of My Bloody Valentine. Pour in a liberal serving of Jesus and Mary Chain and sprinkle with essence of shoegaze. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer, allowing all those delicious reverb juices to blend together. Serve with a side of fresh Velvet Underground.
To call this gig a sonic onslaught is an understatement. The Warlocks perform as a 7 piece – a drummer, a keyboard player, a bassist and four, yes FOUR guitarists! Lead singer and guitarist Bobby Hecksher is the main driving force and the only constant in an ever-changing line-up, which has included past members such as Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre fame (add a sprig of them into the above recipe while you’re at it). Their songs are carefully layered textures of interweaving guitar lines, dripping with effects which complement each other beautifully, and noisily. This is music to get lost in.
They are touring to promote their latest album, Songs from the Pale Eclipse but the setlist pulled tracks from their whole back catalogue. Indeed only one song from the new album, ‘Only You’, was played. This isn’t a slight at the new album either, it is fantastic, if a bit more reserved than previous releases. Rather it’s a testament to the strength of their back catalogue. They kick off with the slow-burning ‘Red Camera’ with its droning guitars and minimalist drums and things continue in a similar vein with ‘Isolation’. Close your eyes and you could be fooled into thinking Messrs Kember and Pierce were still performing together.
Other highlights include ‘Shake The Dope Out’, possibly their most poppy and accessible song and the sprawling distortion of ‘Caveman Rock’. Despite some issues with vocal monitoring and Bobby getting electric shocks – seriously! They put in a solid, mesmerising performance, encoring with an epic rendition of ‘Hurricane Heart Attack’ – on record, a collaboration with Sonic Boom – and the loose jam of ‘Inside Out’.
This style of music isn’t for everyone, hence the ABC2 is only about a third full, but if you have any interest in psychedelia, drone rock or shoegaze, you really need to get yourself to a Warlocks concert for a fix. ‘Shake The Dope Out’ indeed!
Feature image credit: Julie Green.