Dressed in their
customary black, the members of the Warlocks are lurking in the shadows
of the swirls of fog, strobe lights like heat lightning. It’s a murky
mix of bodies up on stage, the two drummers beating a slow and wicked
tattoo, and the air is humming and crackling. Yeah, it’s an old trick–
adding one instrument at a time to create a heavy tension and
anticipation as the crowd waits for the song to break –but it’s an
effective and electrifying one. The Warlocks are masters of these ebbs
and flows, and that gives a seamless fluidity to their live set.
like the ocean, pulling away and then crashing back down on the beach.
I love that pulsing in my body: every nerve is set on tingle, and I
can’t stop nodding and keeping the beat with my entire body, savoring
the buildup into the song I recognize bubbling up through the swampy
intro, the psychedelic sounds running their hands up and down my entire
body creating a delicious warmth. And then the song explodes.
“Isolation” is engaging on the band’s new record, Surgery,
but live it is like Frankenstein after that initial bolt of energy or
the incredible hulk after he turns green — a whole new beast that’s
Warlocks need to be heard live to be really appreciated. The songs take
on a whole new immediacy — the band’s records are just mere hints at
how commanding and huge the songs really are. “Cosmic
Letdown” and “Come Save Us” are like baptismal water, and I’m swimming
through the layers of music to find that the meaning of life is hidden
within their ripples. Its one of those nights that renews my faith in
music, a life-avowing ritual that reminds me why I love going to gigs
so much in the first place.
the Warlocks, opening for the Sisters of Mercy, only have about
forty-five minutes to take us on their head-trip. The members make the
most of this short time, though; their wall-of-sound homage to the Velvets
and the Jesus and Mary Chain is enrapturing. They’re on and totally
connected. About halfway through the set, during a short break between
songs, a fired-up yet blissful Bobby Hecksher intones, “Los Angeles,
oh, my beautiful home, weird, and warped and fucked up.” He is clearly
enjoying himself, playing to his adopted home. The Sisters would be
better off not trying to follow the Warlocks. Their sound seems
emaciated and muted compared to the neon, voluptuous hymns the Warlocks
pummeled us with.