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Big Elf Live in Los Angeles

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Monday, June 14, 2004 @ 10:35 PM


Big Elf Live at Spaceland in S

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Los Angeles-based Big Elf play prog-rock for people that hate prog-rock, stoner rock for people that hate stoners, and heavy metal for people bored of metal. At Spaceland in Silver Lake (an eastside section of L.A.), Big Elf were a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing stayed consistent: their ability to rock tastefully, artfully and hard as fuck.

This four piece band is made up of three Swedes and one insane lead vocalist named Damon Fox who looks like Ian Anderson, sings like Ian Hunter and plays keyboards like Ian McDonald. In this day and age it is rare to even see a guy on stage playing keyboards in hard rock band, least of all to have it be the frontman and to be surrounded by massive walls of '70s style organs, Moogs, Mellotrons, and ancient looking synths. ELP style, he played both rows of keys simultaneously while standing center stage and singing into the mic stand (and even strapped on the guitar for a few tunes). It was quite a site, one not seen in a "hip" Hollywood rock club since about 1978.

They played material culled from their recent effort, the brilliant Hex, as well as their previous albums and EPs, much to the delight of the packed house that seemed to know every word and played air guitar along with every riff. Tunes like "Rock & Roll Contract," " Black Moth" and "Pain Killers" rocked hard enough to please the heshers, yet epic slow burners like "Frustration" and "Money Machine" prove these guys can tackle a wider range of sonic subjects than the average metal band. Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things and The Beatles play as important of a role in their identity as Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap, MC5 and Montrose. Amazingly, for such a loud band, their massive sound was carefully orchestrated so you could hear every note of every instrument. It was a wall of sound to be sure, but hardly a wall of noise.

Dressed sharply in black suits, leather pants and velvet jackets (except for Fox, who also had on a top hat and cape!) the guys looked hella-cool. If I had one complaint though, it'd be that they didn't move around much. Yet with music as precise and multi-textured as theirs, I guess ya wouldn't expect much jumping around. It wouldn't really fit the vibe. These guys are pros and the focus is on the music… and the music kicks major ass.


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