From The Desert With Love: The Atomic Bitchwax and Yawning Man live at Hard Club, Porto
Avid readers of our musical diaries know how much we love the stoner music scene. After all, we have been heavily and pleasurably engaged with SonicBlast since 2018, and our love for the best psychedelic music festival in Europe and the promoters behind it has grown exponentially over the years. Naturally, this also means that any show they bring down to Portugal deserves our full attention, especially one that unites two of the biggest names in the scene for one very special night. So, with our bodies and minds ready to receive some heavy psych melodies, we paid a visit to the Hard Club, in Porto to see both The Atomic Bitchwax and Yawning Man, after devouring a delicious bowl with rice, salmon and avocado – the perfect food for a desert trip, wouldn’t you agree?
Originally formed in 1986, Yawning Man are a phenomenal instrumental trio that inspired the creation and growth of the entire desert rock scene thanks to their incredibly unique and rich sound that blends stoner rock, psych rock and experimental rock. Currently comprised of founding member and guitarist Gary Arce, as well as bassist Billy Cordell and drummer Greg Saenz, Yawning Man transmit ever-expansive, evolving and introspective soundscapes surrounding the listener like a warm blanket that soothes and taking them on a voyage through their own mind. On a live setting, the band is accompanied by mesmerizing and alluring visuals that complement their sound in an absolutely impeccable way. On this particular night, Yawning Man were presenting their latest record, Long Walk Of The Navajo, which was released four months ago via Heavy Psych Sounds, and of which they played “Blood Sand” and “Respiratory Pause”. It is odd how fast time passes when you are seeing Yawning Man play live, as the 50 minutes they spent playing seemed more live five minutes. We could have spent an entire day listening to them just jamming away and we’ve done that when spinning their records. That is the only “bad” part of their entire performance; they didn’t have enough time and we wanted more. Hopefully, we will get just that really soon.
While we dreamt a little longer of a larger Yawning Man set, and slowly processed the majestic sonorities we had just experienced, the time came to see The Atomic Bitchwax once more. We’ve caught the lovable New Jerseyans twice before and both times were at the aforementioned SonicBlast, so we were eager to see what the trio of vocalist and bassist Chris Kosnik, vocalist and guitarist Garrett Sweeny and drummer Bob Pantella were capable of in a smaller indoor venue. The quick answer? They fucking crushed it. Opening up with a rendition of “Frankenstein” from The Edgar Winter Group, followed up by “Hope You Die”, “Forty-Five” and “So Come On”, the trio slayed away, with the audience responding in kind by dancing their skeletons and headbanging away while doing some nifty air guitar moves and singing every lyric spouted. After a quick visit to their debut record, from which they played “Birth to the Earth” and rendition of Core’s “Kiss the Sun”, The Atomic Bitchwax journeyed all the way to their latest record, Scorpio, to play the amazing “Ninja”, always taking time between songs to tell a quick joke or thank the audience for their support. “Force Field” and “Shit Kicker” ended an highly-entertaining and energetic set, perhaps the best one we’ve seen of the trio so far. May many more like these come soon.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Alexandra Ramos