Spaced out stoner rock from New Jersey

I have no idea what time it is, where we are, or how we got here. During the brief break after Terrorvision, I find myself evicted from the nice cosy spot I’d hidden myself away in and thrown into the tangled mass of inebriated bodies down at the front of the stage. And they don’t know anything either.

What we want from this evening is a set full of spaced-out stoner rock to gradually melt into, which is an incredible coincidence because Monster Magnet appear and proceed to fry our brains. The place is packed out, and so it should be. How often does anyone in England get a chance to see New Jersey’s finest purveyors of cosmic heavy groove? Opening with the mighty ‘Dopes to Infinity’ and deliciously dimension defying ‘Crop Circle’ the Magnet prove that you don’t have to be a mile-a-minute guitar shredding metalhead to fit in with this crowd. Especially not this late in the day. Somewhere along the line our brains turned on, tuned in, and dropped out in the endless chain of spaced out riffage.

There was nothing in Magnet’s performance that disappointed, although frontman Dave Wyndorf obviously caught some punters by surprise because our listening pleasure was constantly being interrupted by unfair jokes about his weight. So what if the guy’s put on a bit? You’ll get over it. It didn’t make any difference to the music, except that he had a guitar slung over his shoulder which barely received any attention, and that wasn’t exactly bothering anyone. When you’re playing a raw ‘Powertrip’ and suitably grungy ‘Space Lord’, everything else is secondary to the sheer musical force blasting from the all-too-near speakers.

It doesn’t occur to me until later that we’ve burned through a ten song set, plus four song encore (by massive popular demand) by the time they leave the stage. The fantastic thing about just letting the riffs roll along one after the other is that as soon as the music’s on time and space lose all sense of meaning. Songs can be three, five or twenty minutes long and you just wouldn’t care (which is good because they frequently are). We’re barely interrupted even by introductions from the band; they just keep going like some unstoppable maelstrom and we’re all swept along with it.

And then as suddenly as they’d appeared, they disappeared with just as little ceremony. The crowd gradually disappears (including the massively drunk dancing guy who I’ve been staring at in a trance-like state for who knows how long) and you’re left wondering whether any of it really happened, and feeling a little sorry for the band that had to follow that.