Stonefield With Flat Worms, Cosmonauts At The Bootleg Bar, Monday April 16th 2018
Flat Worms play a tough badass rock ‘n’ roll, loud and abrasive as a chainsaw, with drummer Justin Sullivan center stage, guitarist Will Ivy on one side and bassist Tim Hellman on the other side. Standing close to the power trio is probably trying to catch a tinnitus, as they are true sound warriors and sonic barrier destroyers with fast accelerations and plenty of distortion. They were opening the night at the Bootleg Bar for Stonefield’s April residency, and they had gathered a large crowd despite being the openers. The three of them have been in other bands before, Will Ivy was in Dream Boys, WI Band, Girls, Hunx, Justin Sullivan was in the Babies and Kevin Morby Band, while Tim Hellman was in the Oh Sees, Sic Alps and Ty Segall‘s band, and to add to such a pedigree, their self-titled debut album was released via Castle Face. Their music had a formidable power, an earthshaking power in this already seism-damaged land, and its anxious nature, combined with Ivy’s morose vocals, seemed to announce the worst apocalypse or some force of nature determined to engulf us. They were so loud that it was difficult to realize that their big bold sound, filled with turmoil and anguish, only came from three guys, as chaos and annihilation were materializing from these guitars riffs and deafening rhythm section. Overall the sonic atmosphere they created was fluid and angry, direct and pessimistic, a straightforward punk reflection of our dark times, morphing into a loud empowering expression.
When the next band, Cosmonauts, took the stage, Mad Alchemy had started its analog liquid light show, and the psychedelic experience of the music got surely enhance with all these moving colors on the faces of the musicians and in the background. Cosmonauts, a psychedelic garage rock quartet, played a long set of layered and colorful music, an update of a certain ‘70s ambiance, with throbbing bass lines, plaintive vocals from their two alternating singers Derek Cowart and Alex Ahmadi, responding to each other and often going into mantra mode. If it’s too easy to drop names such as the Jesus and Mary Chain or Brian Jonestown Massacre to describe their sound, but they had this same taste for shoegaze drones with melodic lines and distinct vocals above the fuzz. However Cosmonauts were more interested by a certain atmosphere than structured pop rock songs, actually their songs were often hard to follow, turning around into a heavy narcotic-induced feeling with space out vocals and distortion, a bit creepy and very druggy, and they even closed their set with a noisy experimental long piece filled with distortion, UFO sightings and dragging vocals, some meandrous thing which wasn’t necessarily looking for an uplifting ending.
But the night belonged to the four Stonefield sisters from Australia, each of them playing a different instrument and producing a stormy and intriguing mix of stoner/psychedelic/heavy rock. Amy Findlay on lead vocals sang with a powerful high howl, a long psych-rock scream while drumming at the center of the stage. Backed up by her three siblings, Hannah on guitar, Sarah on keys, and Holly on bass, who were all contributing to back up vocals, the Findlays had style and launched a heavy wave inside the Bootleg. There was something almost ancient in their wild form of proto psych rock and I know it wasn’t only due to their retro outfits, as some of their songs could have been used for the soundtrack of some ’70s movie with pretty party girls and a heavy consumption of acid. As if Stevie Nicks had met Black Sabbath for an exotic ride on another planet, they brought an increasing dose of sludgy atmosphere with psych-era flashbacks, with Amy’s prolonged roaring screams getting wilder and guitars riffs getting doomer, as the set progressed.
After many recognitions – they won the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) Music Award for Rock Work of the Year in 2015 – and after opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club during their Australian tour, the four sisters are now ready to conquer the US with their freshly released third studio Album, ‘Far From Earth’ (which was out on April 13th). Sibling rockers are always a hit for some reason, but when there are four of them, it surely becomes irresistible.