Monster Magnet – Citizens of the cosmos
17 November 2013 and beyond past, present and future
“It’s a satanic drug thing, you wouldn’t understand” says the t-shirt on the wall for sale……..The most obvious idea requires the most obvious response…….yes or no or maybe a nod scene…..anyway curiosity will lead to the devil….
Loyal fans in the US have been waiting more than ten years for the live sounds of the stoner-rock pioneers Monster Magnet, powerful sounds that Aleister Crowley should have been listening to while climbing those mountains cause the world would possibly be a more peaceful place….. Hippie metal, no shoes.
Sunday night purgatory in downtown Minneapolis with chills, tears of joy, demons and angels, a lot of middle-aged white guys, and of course a pot smell in the men’s bathroom and probably in the ladies too which I did not visit even though the women to men ratio was quite polar. Not an intimate gathering there at the mid-sized venue Mill City Nights unless you were one with your doobie, or whatever, like the guy that said he found a one-eyed Nietzsche in the wallpaper pattern. Bongs and Mill City Days did not exist for a couple of hours. It was a weak attendance for a band that was more popular in the post-Kurt Cobain ‘90s.
Every concert is a gathering of the collective unconscious. The band’s connection to the audience is an unwritten rule which I have just wrote never to be repeated again.
I admire Monster Magnet in Jungian terms, as the epitome of wholeness, or capturing “individuation” for all you psychology geeks out there. A fully integrated rock & roll kindness filled ego with all good and all filler. They do retro and future at the same time – ‘70s and 2000s and everything in between, the usual heavy-rock template. It’s only rock & roll and it certainly is not dead.
Wholeness is best defined by an integration of all aspects of the self, past and present, conscious and unconscious, good and not so good. Psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) wrote, “The right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings.” And “The unconscious is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good: not only dark but also light, not only bestial, semi-human, and demonic but superhuman, spiritual, and, in the classical sense of the word, divine.” Monster Magnet embodies all that in their music all the time……
For example –
A Jung idea = a Monster Magnet lyric
1. unable to define divine = if satan lived in heaven he’d be me
2. symbolic image as unconscious aspect of conscious event = peace is what you get from the chemical king
3. mans capacity to reflect came from painful consequences of instinct = nature’s got a way brothers, of scraping the bowl
4. spiritual values exposed will disintegrate = your violation will be televised
5. draw strength from shadow = I’m gonna bleed on this town until it’s red
6. the essence, the sacrificial element in it = if you take a lot it will kill you
7. religious symbolism is significant by its absence = and play some music for the holy ghost
8. the unconscious leads with a secret design = blood’s got soul
9. transformation comes through the vehicle of symbols = oil of love, swimming in a zodiac
10. projected psyche onto things = when I die it’ll be because of you, there I’ll lie and it’ll all point to you
11. at bottom the psyche is “world” = I love everyone
12. god is dead = there ain’t no pioneers
“There is only enlightened activity, not enlightened people.”
How about lone survivor and mastermind of the band Dave Wyndorf’s effects table on stage controlled by his hands with his back to the audience like scrolling Photoshop filters on a computer – creating aura, the invisible color haze, gaussian blur, ripple distortion. In the beginning, in the ‘80s, it was Wyndorf’s mind that was the most important instrument, his vision. A vision that makes me appoint him the Lou Reed of stoner rock. So arguably, what Monster Magnet did for the heavy-rock genre is equivalent to what Lou Reed’s band The Velvet Underground did for psychedelic/noise/indie rock, Hall of Fame kind of stuff. Influential and innovative and on-the-edge and before it’s time and somewhat trashy. A noble and respected spectacle.
Technique that night? It shouldn’t be about technique and how good they are with their instruments, it’s about music with passion, a feeling, a non-fatal saturation of emotion. Every song was well executed, sounded great. There wasn’t any special sonic modernization or extra noodling baggage acquired along the way with those old tunes except a magick homage to Don McLean’s “American Pie” within the iconic “Spine of God” song. There was still the appropriate jam session-attention-span-freak-out parts like on the records but not overly long and without all the electronics used in the recordings after their LP Powertrip which came out in 1999.
Casual presence on the stage, and lyrically, Wyndorf does not seem to care about truth, a broken string, or any such TV-ish drama, maybe because he has a solid backing band that supports and engages his one-for-the-books fictional lifestyle? He has found the planet where that Jungian wholeness in a band works the best amongst scientific human – half pig and half chimpanzee? Or science and bullgods, but science will always change the answer…….
One thing I do remember vocalist Wyndorf saying was when the band came out for an encore – “Hope you guys like space-rock cause this song is eleven minutes long.” It was one off of their latest LP titled Last Patrol, a hypnotizer deserving of a huge black light poster watching in a 1970s custom boogie van with a warrior mural airbrushed on the side that says Vantastic. Some things you don’t want to end.
I don’t think Monster Magnet “ended up” here after all these years. There seems to be a mission, a holy grail to be discovered somewhere. A patrol, a trek through the cosmos with rock ‘n’ roll in the driver’s seat and their identity sought out through live performance. So let’s all change our middle names to “In Search Of” partially because the rest of one’s life is based off of a first love right, a conquering sort of mission from here on out?
Monster Magnet is still on this plane of existence for now and I want to use a word to describe them that means the opposite of “destroyers of consciousness,” but I do not know what that is so, I will end with the idea of gestalt because Carl Jung would approve and give permission and because Wyndorf and his mystic crew are everything, everybody, all the time, layers of archetypes. Love.