Until one week ago I’d never heard of this band, but lately it seems as if Bushman’s Revenge‘s been the chatter of the town. I decided to go to their concert at The Crossroad’s Club with clean info on the band, and try to figure out what the hype was all about. Well, almost no info, that is. I found out the same day, according to friends and connections, that I’d basically come to see was a jazzy garage-rock Norwegian band. Which sounded interesting enough.
It was a slow Thursday at Crossroad’s. I expected to see the place packed, but you could say it was half-full, to stay on the positive side. When they got on stage I soon realized that they didn’t have, or intended to have, any vocals. But it didn’t heavily matter once music started pouring out of the stage from the young-looking trio. Tight and heavy to say the least, playful, and confident. Some of the songs had the kind of power to it that felt like they were pushing and shoving the music in our faces in a steady rhythm. Powerful stuff with psychedelic tweaks to soften the edges. At times when they slowed things down they sounded a bit like Tortoise with a hint of Kaada.
It’s obvious why they’ve been playing at numerous jazz festivals. The jazz element is solid but with a thick layer of classical, bass-drums driven 70’s Rock to it. With help from the guitar, at times I felt King Crimson knocking on the door with a crusty Jimi Hendrix in his pocket. Gard Nilssen toyed on the drumkit like a kid at the candyshop, hitting those toms as if he was picking his favorite from the shelves, and in perfect rhythm and confident smile. I wasn’t surprised when he went for a long solo session in the middle of the set. “Even Helte Hermansen” on guitar is a typical soloist and has a well-developed signature sound. He’s obviously improvising a lot at times, sometimes making the guitar squeal like an ice scrape in the hands of a spastic person on a over-frozen car window (and at parts, to the extent-close to annoying…). Probably side-effects after playing with the Metal Jazz band, Shining, for three years.
Despite their obvious experience I couldn’t help feeling they had a bit of a distance to the audience. They never really connected. I’ve been to my share of band practices and this was very similar. They were definitely in a sort of private zone playing for perfection, but nevertheless with a huge gap against the audience. Sometimes the songs drifted so far I lost interest. I couldn’t help it, I was missing something, that last spark to set me on fire. Kind of like a Motorpsycho song missing the big “finally”. The red carpet laid out, but nobody walking the full length.
Speaking of finally, they did save the best for last. Stating their platform, the last song played was a Black Sabbath cover song, War Pigs. I wondered how they were gonna solve the vocal aspect, but the skilled guitarist basically made his guitar sing.
Bushman’s Revenge just released an album on January 20 on Rune Grammofon, entitled, “A Little Big of Big Bonanza”. The band have also been added to the steadily heavy line-up at Øyafestivalen this year. For more info, check out the label site.
® All photos by Erik Moholdt