Live Review: Sonic Jesus in Berlin

posterSJ Cropped’s Jan Wisniewski checks out Italian psych-rockers Sonic Jesus at Berlin’s White Trash Fast Food:

A last-minute venue change, a reduced line-up and a late start – when Sonic Jesus took to the stage for a brisk and noisy sound check in front of a largely sitting audience enjoying their fast food by candlelight, it all seemed primed to go wrong.

As the smoke machine blew a strong stream directly into the faces of those sitting on the front tables, a few machine-gun snare hits provided the launching point for what would be an hour’s worth of unrelenting, droning, psych satisfaction.

The Sonic Jesus live sound is built from the ground up on the foundations of some busy drumming and bass rumbles, allowing the twin guitar attack with occasional interspersions of organ and keyboard to provide the colour – albeit only in dark shades. This is serious music.

They are stylish men. Beards, black and a bit of fringe was the order of the day from the Italian natives. Even a pair of sunglasses was in use to dull the glare of the candlelight. But of course they had the groove to back it up.

With an upcoming album, Neither Virtue Nor Anger, to showcase the six-piece kept it tight, doing justice to the work of core writing team Tiziano Veronese and Marco Baldassari. When a band locks in like these guys can, there is always danger of drawing out each track and testing the audience’s patience. But Sonic Jesus are disciplined musicians and let their carefully considered layers of sound do the impressing with each track building and peaking as designed by their resident masterminds.

It paid off. From my vantage point behind the Medieval Madness pinball machine I witnessed as table conversations died off, attention was gained and heads were moved in rough time to the music. A few couples even took their romance to the floor to get psychedelic with it.

Audience interaction was extremely low on the scale but this was not all detrimental to the atmosphere Sonic Jesus was curating. European mystique is a powerful thing.

The high points came when Veronese’s voice came to the fore – hints of emotion seeping through the effects. Though it was near impossible to distinguish actual words, sentiments were clear.

The band finished with Locomotive – a study in slow-build atmospherics that explodes into some cold, restrained aggression. With the last notes ringing out they left the stage with a minimum of fuss and pleasantries – leaving behind them some gratified punters and a lingering sense of cool.

Remaining dates for the ‘Neither Virtue Nor Anger’ album release tour are as follows:

14/04/15 Brighton The Hope (UK)
15/04/15 Bristol Mother’s Ruin (UK)
16/04/15 London The Waiting Room / Release Party (UK)
17/04/15 Manchester The Roadhouse (UK)
19/04/15 Clermont Ferrand Le Raymond Bar (FR)
21/04/15 Recanati (An) Dong (IT)
23/04/15 Athens An Club (GR)
24/04/15 Larisa Stage Club (GR)
25/04/15 Thessaloniki Eightball Club (GR)
26/04/15 Skopje MKC (MK)
27/04/15 Niš Feedback (RS)
28/04/15 Zaječar Omladinski Centar (RS)
29/04/15 Belgrade KC Grad (RS)
01/05/15 Padova Parco d’Europa (IT)
02/05/15 Parma Oltretorrente Sonico (IT)

jan Cropped


Words by Jan Wisniewski.