Josefus @ The Hideout, Chicago (US)

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JOSEFUS / DOOMSTRESS / PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE

Date: 29th June, 2018
Venue: The Hideout
Ticket:
$12 (€10)
Promoter: Doomed And Stoned


It was a crappy weather that Friday night with an unforgiving heat wave / humidity that made the Chicago area feel like it was an Amazon rainforest... Ok, I am exaggerating here but I am sure you know how terrible it feels when heat and humidity team up. The silver lining on this cloud was a rather impressive gathering with JOSEFUS on the headliners spot, something I think had never happened before outside the Texas State borders. This may not say much, but if you consider when this band was formed, then you’ll get the “impressive” side of this event. Yeah, JOSEFUS come from the late ‘60s (no, this is not a typo) and they are considered as one of the pioneers of the Texas Hard Rock scene. Add to this DOOMSTRESS and PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE and you get a sharp knife to cut through the heat wave.

The Hideout turned out to be a ‘sweet’ place with a nice stage and - to my surprise - a killer sound. I mean, it is pretty rare to have great sound in such a small setting, and this venue did impress. I knew nothing about PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE and, to be honest, I do not keep tabs on the Psychedelic scene, so you have to excuse my ignorance although in hindsight I wish I had done some preliminary homework. Anyways, these are easy-to-fix issues so onwards with the task at hand. It was a terribly sparse crowd when the three-piece band appeared onstage but soon enough the loud, full of psychedelia music managed to change the atmosphere. Guitarist and singer Steve Krakow had just stepped out of his time-machine straight from the ‘70s and, along with bassist Cosmik Jru (love the one-lens sunglasses) and drummer Jose “The Beast” Bernal opened the door to a different world, full of colors and effects with a hearty nostalgia feeling. Ok, I was not familiar with the band’s music and it took me some time to get all the flavors, but once that happened, I started to enjoy what I was hearing (and watching). The songs sounded like jam-sessions with the bass / drum rhythm section being the only constant, having the guitar to roam around on top of several effects Steve was using. However, out of this - what it sounded like – chaos, an impossible to resist groove was coming through and I have to give additional credit to Jose for pounding the drum skins like there was not tomorrow. Sure, the vocals were hidden under a heavy echo effect, but they also made sense once you got the gist of it. For the last two songs of the set, the presence of a saxophone onstage made sense with Bruce Lamont (of the YAKUZA fame) joining the band and adding another flavor to the set. Multi-kudos to the Chicagoan band for opening a time capsule and making us forget about the sweaty weather. I will definitely check what PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE have been doing from the studio.

PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE

Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Next on up, was one of the two reasons why we came to this show; DOOMSTRESS is a hard-working band from Texas with a rather unique style of ‘70s-infused Doom spearheaded by powerful female vocals courtesy of Doomstress Alexis. In case your mind starts hovering around the cheesy female fronted ‘70s Retro Doom scene that already feels saturated, then you need to hit the ‘reset’ button hard. DOOMSTRESS is heavy with pounding grooves and an absolute amazing guitar duo which I don’t recall seeing onstage before. Yeah, the presence of two-guitars onstage really sky-rocketed the sound, highlighting some IRON MAIDEN double harmonies influences that I had never noticed before. Of course, Doom with a pinch of Stoner is still DOOMSTRESS’ deal, but the way the two guitarists behaved onstage made me feel a fresh breeze on the Texan band. “We are DOOMSTRESS from Houston, Texas; thanks for having us” said Alexis and then let the hard-hitting “Your God Is Blind” do the rest. Oh my goodness, that sounded awesome! Apparently DOOMSTRESS have walked (traveled seems more appropriated) many miles since the last time I saw them onstage because this instance there was a solid-as-hell band in front of me. Alexis was singing with all veins-popping driven by the passion she always has onstage, with the type of confidence many singers are lacking these days. However, the set felt a bit rushed but I guess this had something to do with the headliners and in hindsight I can definitely say it did not bother me. Still, I will complain (a bit) for not having “Way Of The Mountain” on the set, although getting to hear a new tune was indeed a powerful compensation. By the way, “Bones & Rust” was a great teaser for the things brewing in the DOOMSTRESS camp, and this is when I realized how great the two guitars sound live. I will go that far and claim the early MAIDEN influences in this one. At any rate, it was a great tune!

After “Sleep Among The Dead”, it was time to close the set with the heavy / Doom(ed) cover on COVEN’s “Wicked Woman” which indeed took us to the late ‘60s, like Alexis said as a short intro. Aside from being a great cover, it was the best way to pass the baton to JOSEFUS which have that period of time as their formation date. As for DOOMSTRESS, I hope the time to get a full-set will soon happen and with a LP fresh out of the press.

DOOMSTRESS setlist:

01. “Your God Is Blind”
02. “Bitter Plea”
03. “Bones & Rust”
04. “Sleep Among The Dead”
05. “Wicked Woman”

DOOMSTRESS

Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Flirting with getting out of line on nowadays’ standards (where every word has the potential to be offensive), I will say that watching the two old guys from JOSEFUS prepping their gear for their headlining show was not a solid guarantee that we would have a great time. Oh my, I could not be more wrong... By default, one expects to see more and feel more when a young and “thirsty” band is performing onstage. On the other side of the age spectrum, there are no expectations when the band onstage looks like it has run its course and has gone beyond its prime. Again, I could not be more wrong, and sadly this does not make the younger generation look better, but first things first. By the way, it was quite entertaining listening one of the two original members and guitarist Dave Mitchel asking Alexis for a “G” note in order to tune his guitar. Yeah, who needs a guitar tuner when you have the music inside your mind and heart? Oh yeah, Alexis has joined JOSEFUS and, in fact, she told us that she is involved in the ongoing making of the new LP. Isn’t this exciting or what?

Speaking of the upcoming album, the show started with the brand new “Moments” and right there I experienced a band that was oblivious of the years that had passed. You see, music comes from the soul, the heart or wherever the artist’s spirit resides in and does not pay much attention to the beating the body has taken after spending a serious amount of time walking on this earth. Clearly, it was one guitar onstage but it didn’t sound like one; the sound coming from the vintage amps was what we music-fans like to call ‘full’ with more flavors than a New Orleans summer feast. Dave was talking to the guitar and the riffs kept coming out from another time capsule straight from the ‘60s. Indeed, there was Blues soul in the riffs and was absolutely in line with how Pete Bailey was behaving… His voice, his moves and his honest presence onstage were more than enough to make me forget or even cancel what I was thinking about age. In fact, this made me feel a bit sorry and disappointed for some young(er) bands out there that have no clue how it is putting your heart into it and what it’s really like exposing your heart on stage in front of a live audience. The riff of “Crazy Man” had Southern US Rock written all over it and got everyone going, and I think The Hideout had way more people than I was anticipating for this show. Drummer Michael Morris had arrived in Chicago some time before the show, but he did not show any signs of being tired from travelling, and along with Alexis were keeping the groove going like a well-oiled machine, and this is extremely important in this type of music. I mean, without a solid groove, the guitar or the harmonica cannot do their thing. And trust me, the harmonica did appear in the rocking “I Need A Woman” which came out fantastic and I think at that point everyone was onboard the train heading down the memory lane. Before this one, Pete said: “We have never been in Chicago, and so far, I really like it”.

Another new tune, “Guns & Fun” came out with all guns blazing (pun intended) but it was “The Shade” that gave me the goosebumps. This one was slow and super-heavy and I will be bold enough to call it Proto-Doom with sweet basslines and a vocal performance that brought the desert inside the venue. I guess, the feathers placed on Pete’s head kind of helped me feel like this. In fewer words, this one was a killer tune, so be on the look-out for the new JOSEFUS LP. The kind of dark “Slave Of Fear” gave me the chills and I will put the blame on the clean guitar arpeggio and on Pete’s voice that was first dipped in the essence of his soul. Being in Chicago with a long history of Blues, the guitar solo on this one fitted like a perfect tailored suit. After the bass-driven and THE DOORS-like “Situation”, it was time for the song-closer of the night which turned out to be the highlight of the set. This is an almost 18-minute jam-like tune and a genuine trip to the ‘60-‘70s sound. Pete was handling the maracas right from the start, while Dave was throwing at us a boatload of guitar licks on top of a rock-solid steady rhythm section. Even if it was the last and longest song of the set, it did not feel like it and it went down smoother than a cold beer on a hot and humid night. You could see only happy faces after the show and a deep respect to JOSEFUS who are a blueprint of how one can put his soul on the music-playing and on the music-making. The bad thing though is that no blueprint or a ‘how-to’ book can teach you how to do that; you either have it or don’t.

JOSEFUS setlist:

01. “Moments”
02. “Crazy Man”
03. “Hard Luck”
04. “Rock X”
05. “I Need A Woman”
06. “Guns & Fun”
07. “The Shade”
08. “Wheels”
09. “Cosmic Man"
10. “Slave Of Fear”
11. “Situation”
12. “Dead Man”

JOSEFUS

Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Josefus @ The Hideout (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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