It’s always a strange feeling to be heading to a concert on a Monday evening… even more so when the concert in question is one of the potential concert highlights of the spring: Roky Erickson embarked on this 2-week European tour along with his son Jegar’s band, The Hounds of Baskerville, who have been accompanying him on his solo career for a few years. On April 25th, 2016, they performed a variety of songs written by Erickson’s former psychedelic rock band, The 13th Floor Elevators, as well as some of Erickson’s solo songs.
Full gallery HERE!
Being a Monday, and obviously not a cheap gig in Kallio, I wasn’t too surprised to see only a few people waiting before the show. Luckily things changed rather quickly, and by the end of the night, Tavastia club was completely full. But let’s get to the gig itself!
Before the main show began, Matt Long (the band’s drummer) came on stage to greet the crowd, offering a short 15 minute acoustic set. Having not been announced anywhere beforehand, I’m not sure whether this was planned or improvised, but people enjoyed it nevertheless. After the set concluded and a short break, it was about a half hour past the scheduled start time. That’s when the other members of the band – and of course Roky himself – showed up. With all the people shouting his name from the audience, one could close their eyes and imagine being in the audience of a Stallone movie boxing match.
The pioneer of psychedelic rock and his fellow bandmates brought us back to the 60s with a long sequence of classics: “Fire Engine,” “Dr. Doom,” and “Monkey Island” to name a few. For the first two to three songs, Erickson’s vocals were almost impossible to hear, but that was fixed as the show progressed and there was not much for trouble for the rest of the gig’s duration.
Erickson was sitting in his chair for the whole gig, right in the center of the stage, while a nearly unnoticeable guy in the corner of the stage played the electric jug (yes, you heard right!). On harmonica was none other than Jegar Erickson. The most lively of the lot was certainly Jason Richard on bass, who at times was grabbing attention with his stage moves and introducing some of the songs along with the Ericksons.
The audience seemed rather quiet, at least by the standards I’m used to (though granted, this was not exactly your average heavy metal show) and looking around you could easily see that the age range of the concert-goers was generally higher than normal – which is to be expected – with the exception of a few younger guys, some of whom were sitting on the floor close to the stage. For some reason, after some time the atmosphere started to sound a bit too mellow even for my taste (though this was perhaps also due to the fact that I was already rather tired before coming to the show), so I decided to sit down and enjoy the rest of the concert in peace with a drink until it was time for the encore.
To my immense surprise, Erickson got rid of the chair and stood up for the final songs, while everyone in the crowd suddenly got properly excited as they heard the first notes of “Night of the Vampire.” I was among those who stood up to watch more closely, as this particular hit is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the band skipped “If You Have Ghosts” (as well as “White Faces,” another song I would have liked to hear live, but let’s not be too fussy). They concluded the gig to cheers and applause from the audience with “Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer).”
All-in-all, though I did expect that this show would be a change from my normal gig nights, perhaps I had set the bar a bit too high as per my expectations. On the other hand, it was well worth checking out Mr. Roky Erickson live for the first time to get a good taste of what music was like way back when heavy metal was yet to be born. I am sure that the night would have been much more successful had it been on a weekend, but after all, I’ve learned that when it comes to touring, you don’t really get to be picky with the dates when it comes to Finland!
Text/photos: Marco Manzi