Last time Brant Bjork and John Garcia swung by Nottingham, it was as Kyuss Lives! over in the main hall of Rock City. The Rescue Rooms are markedly smaller confines and it goes to show that even in the age of instant and shareable news on the internet, renaming and rebranding your band is a mammoth task. Having said that, the Rescue Rooms are rammed and nobody is complaining about seeing Vista Chino up close and personal in this intimate venue.
Before Vista Chino arrive; Nottingham welcomes Canadian hard rockers Monster Truck, who are on their first ever UK tour. With just one UK date, at a little festival called Download, under their belts prior to this tour they are a bit of an unknown quantity.
It doesn’t take long for Monster Truck to demonstrate what they’re all about though. The brace of ’Old Train’ and ‘The Lion’ from this year’s awesome ‘Furiosity’ album sets the ball rolling. Anyone not familiar with the Canadians soon gets the picture; they’re a rock’n’roll band, plain and simple. They play loud and energetic big rock songs. As frontman, Jon, explained to CackBlabbath just before the show, they’re not trying to rewrite the rules on rock’n’roll; they’re out to have fun and hope people are able to join in along the way.
Nottingham certainly buys into the idea and the continuously swelling crowd bang their heads in approval throughout the set. The band have ample big tunes to hold everyone’s attention but guitarist Jeremy Widerman adds a lot of spark to the show, just to make sure. He gurns his way through providing the backing vocals,and when not required to sing, he’s moving around the small stage, working the crowd and generally being the band livewire.
‘Sweet Mountain River’ and ‘Seven Seas Blues’ go down like old favourites and it seems Monster Truck have made a few new friends tonight.
By the time Vista Chino arrive onstage, the Rescue Rooms are crammed and the bonfire night temperature is quickly soaring. John and Brant are joined by Kyuss Lives! guitar man Bruno Fevery and bass legend Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity fame for the current Vista Chino line-up.
It doesn’t really matter what the band is branded as; when the likes of ‘Adara’ and ‘One Inch Man’ are unleashed early on in the set, it’s just majestic. Once the music of Kyuss gets under your skin it’s hard to shift and Garcia’s piercing vocals are unmistakable and still some of the best pipes in rock. The swirling smoke and moody lighting match the low end rumble of the desert rock perfectly and it quickly becomes a near religious experience for the gathered stoner rock hardcore.
Having Mike by their side is a real asset to Vista Chino. He resembles one of those plastic dancing sunflowers over at stage right. When the music is up tempo he twists and turns with his straggly blonde locks windmilling around which reduces to a slow sway in the more reflective passages. Brant sports his usual headband and vest combo whilst Bruno is the coolest man in a cardigan in Nottingham tonight. Garcia assumes his usual postion, using the microphone stand as a gear stick as the band shift between tempos, his long hair has been shorn at some point this year but he’s lost none of his powers.
Vista Chino look as though they’ve got a point to prove and what better way to prove it than by slotting in their new material as though it belongs in the Kyuss catalogue. ‘Dragona Dragona’ and ‘Sweet Remain’ are bot unveiled early on but it’s ‘Planets 1 & 2’ where the new stuff really blossoms. Featuring vocals from Brant, it comes to life beautifully in the live arena.
There are, of course, classics by the bucket load too. ‘Gardenia’, ‘Green Machine’, ‘Supa Scoopa…’ and the colossal ‘Thumb’ all get an airing (among plenty more) as the crowd soak it all up. It’s not long before the smell of weed begins to drift through the air but the music alone is enough to put you in a hypnotic trance, which inevitably leads it to being all over too quickly.
The past year or so has been challenging to say the least for Vista Chino. Having to change their name and the public falling out between former members of Kyuss hasn’t been pretty. Spend ninety minutes watching them live and you’ll quickly forget all that rubbish and get hooked into what matters. John and Brant want to play the music they helped create and love and you’re a fool if you don’t want to listen.