Live Concert Photography: Monster Magnet with Electric Citizen, Dark Sky Choir, and Diesel America at The Gramercy Theatre 10/27/18

Live Concert Photography: Monster Magnet with Electric Citizen, Dark Sky Choir, and Diesel America at The Gramercy Theatre 10/27/18

Currently comprised of founding member Dave Wyndorf (vocals, rhythm guitar), Phil Caivano (rhythm guitar, lead guitar), Bob Pantella (drums), Garrett Sweeny (lead guitar) and Chris Kosnik (bass guitar), the Red Bank, NJ-based metal act Monster Magnet formed as a trio featuring Wyndorf, John McBain (guitar) and Tim Cronin (vocals and drums) back in 1989. Initially going by the names Dog of Mystery, Airport ’75, Triple Bad Acid and King Fuzz, the band’s name is derived from the name of a 1960s toy made by Wham-O that Wyndorf liked when he was a child.

In 1989 the members of Monster Magnet released two demo cassettes — Forget About Life, I’m High on Dope and I’m Stoned, What Ya Gonna Do About It?; however, their first official single “Lizard Johnny”/”Freakshop USA” was released on Long Island-based Circuit Records. Their first demo and their first single was recorded as a trio but before the second demo, the band recruited Joe Kleiman (drums) and Joe Calandra (bass) to complete the band’s first lineup. The newly constituted quintet released their self-titled EP through German label Glitterhouse Records, and the EP featured “Snake Dance” and “Nod Scene,” both of which would appear on their full-length debut Spine of God, as well as “Tractor,” which would be re-recorded and appear on their most commercially successful album Powertrip.

In 1990 the Red Bank, NJ-based band signed with Caroline Records and released a single “Murder”/”Tractor.” Tim Cronin left shortly after although he would remain in the background, contributing to auditory effects, lights and visuals for their live shows for many years. But 1991 saw the release of the band’s breakthrough, full-length debut, the aforementioned Spine of God, an album that’s largely hailed as a stoner rock classic, landing at #28 on Heavy Planet’s “Top 50 of All Time.” The members of Monster Magnet built upon a growing profile by touring with Soundgarden — and the tour resulted in the band signing with A&M Records. Interestingly, their final Caroline Records release was the Tab EP, which featured the 32 minus “Tab,” and although it was recorded before Spine of God, the EP was released after it. McBain quit the band was replaced by The Atomic Bitchwax‘s Ed Mundell.

1993 saw the release of Superjudge and despite the release of “Twin Earth” and “Face Down” as album singles (with accompanying videos), it didn’t fare well commercially; however, 1995’s Dopes to Infinity featured hit single “Negasonic Teenage Warhead,” which benefited from a video that received regular rotation on MTV.  After the Dopes to Infinity tour, Wyndorf relocated to Las Vegas to begin working on 1998’s Powertrip, the band’s most commercially successful album to date — and an album that went gold and landed at #97 on the Billboard 200 as a result of the success of “Space Lord,” album title track “Powertrip,” “Temple of Your Dreams” and “See You In Hell.”  That year the band toured  with Aerosmith, Metallica, Rob Zombie, Hole and Marilyn Manson. Also Phil Caivano joined the band that year.

After a two year tour to support Powertrip, 2001 saw the release of God Says No, which landed at #153 on the Billboard 200. Unfortunately, the album failed to match the commercial success of Powertrip. Shortly after God Says No‘s release, Calandra and Kleiman left the band and were replaced by Jim Baglino and Michael Wildwood, who were with the band during the Monolithic Baby! sessions. Wildwood was replaced by Love Among Freaks’ Bob Pantella — and during the time, the band left A&M Records, eventually signing to European label SPV.

In November 2009, Monster Magnet signed with Napalm Records, who would release 2010’s Mastermind, which the band supported with two lengthy European tour. After the European Summer 2010 tour, Ed Mundell left the band after 18 years, eventually forming The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic. Riotgod‘s Garrett Sweeny joined the band for the rest of the tour to support the album,

The following fall, the members of Monster Magnet toured across Europe playing Dopes to Infinity and followed that up the next year playing Spine of God.  Since then the band has released 2013’s Last Patrol and reworked versions of two albums — 2014’s Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Lost Patrol and 2015’s Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux). Both albums featured new arrangements and a less polished, more psychedelic production.

Monster Magnet’s headlining Gramercy Theatre set was a career spanning set that featured their biggest hits and material from last year’s Mindfucker — and holy shit, did they kick ass and take names. The bill included opening sets from Cincinnati‘s Electric Citizen, New Jersey’s Dark Sky Choir and New York’s Diesel America. Check out photos from the show below.

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With the release of 2014’s full-length debut Sateen, the Cincinnati, OH-based quartet Electric Citizen, currently comprised of husband and wife duo, Laura Dolan (vocals) and Ross Dolan (guitar), along with Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums), received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that’s heavily indebted to Led ZeppelinBlack Sabbath, early 70s Rush and others. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a busy schedule of touring both nationally and internationally with several national and internationally known acts, including Fu ManchuWolfmotherThe Budos Band, and Pentagram.
The Cincinnati heavy psych rock/heavy metal quartet’s sophomore effort, 2016’s Higher Time found the band expanding upon their sound, as they were crafting muscular and anthemic hooks around prog rock-like structures —but while being incredibly  concise, with songs clocking in at around 3 minutes or so. The album received massive critical applause from the likes of Consequence of Sound, who placed it on their 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016. Additionally, the album found the band’s Laura Dolan stepping up into more of a traditional frontperson role, which I saw during their live shows, as Dolan strutted, stomped and swaggered across the stage with a larger-than-life confidence.
Released last September through RidingEasy Records, Electric Citizen’s third full-length album Helltown derives its name from the neighborhood in which the members of the band live, practices and where the album was written recorded and mixed. Although now more prosaically known as Northside, Helltown earned its name in the early 1800s. thanks to a reputation for the rowdy taverns frequented by the neighborhood’s factory workers and immigrants. And while being an ode to the band’s neighborhood and its buried past, the album reportedly is a sonic return to form with the band employing a grittier sound along the lines of their 2014 debut. Adding upon the overall homecoming theme, the band returns to their original lineup. As the band’s Laura Dolan says in press notes, “In many ways this album is a realignment to the first,” Laura says. “We experimented a lot on the second album, some of which we learned we didn’t like.”
While largely centered around the material from Helltown, Electric Citizen’s Gramercy Theatre set was a career-spanning set that featured material from their two previous albums as well.

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Currently comprised of founding members Fred Gorhau (guitar) and Mike Sakowski (drums), and newest members Brian Allen (vocals) and John Moyer (bass), the New Jersey-based metal act Dark Sky Choir features a who’s who list of contemporary metal.
The Pacific Northwest-based Brian Allen currently splits his time between fronting Dark Sky Choir, which he joined in 2017 and fronting the Bay Area thrash metal act Vicious Rumors but before that he’s spent time as a member of Last Empire and Two Headed Beast. Fred Gorhau is a grizzled veteran of the local scene, best known as a member of Exxplorer, an act that toured throughout the States and the European Union. And since 2011, Gorhau has toured across the States and Canada as the lead guitarist of the holiday-themed The Wizards of Winter. John Moyer may be best known as being a member of the Grammy-nominated metal act Disturbed. A member of Disturbed since their third full-length album Ten Thousand Fists, Moyer split his time as a member of Texas-based The Union Underground before a two year stint as a member of Adrenaline Mob. After leaving Adrenaline Mob, Moyer co-founded metal supergroup Foundry with Iron Maiden‘s Blaze Bayley, guitarist Rick Plester and Twisted Sister‘s AJ Pero. Back in 2015, Moyer joined Operation Mindcrime with former Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate, and was a member of Art of Anarchy and Stereo Satellite before joining Dark Sky Choir in 2017. Mike Sakwoksi has been a member of the local scene as a performer and instructor since the early 1980s. Sakowski is a co-founder of the aforementioned Exxplorer; but since the early 1990s he has played with a number of acts including Tin Pan Alley, Yesterday’s Child and a number of cover bands.
Interestingly, the New Jersey-based metal quartet initially formed back in 2016 as a tribute band, dedicated to the music its founding members grew up listening. Interestingly, as they developed a local founding, the band began writing their own original music, which resulted in their full-length debut, and last year’s self-titled EP, the first with the new lineup. Their Gramercy Theatre set was also a career-spanning set but was primarily focused around their self-titled EP.

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Opening the night was the New York-based metal quartet Diesel America. Featuring Vic Russo (vocals), Frank Cherena (bass), Kevin Galligan (guitar) and Rob Sonnenberg (drums), the members of Diesel America developed their sound, stage presence and a following in a relatively quick period of time — and with that momentum, they caught the attention of Joey Z, who produced their full-length debut Leave Your Mark.  Naturally, their Gramercy Theater set was centered around the material from their full-length album.

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For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/yankee32879/554K8Z