Stoner-rock shaman of legend, Brant Bjork has perfected chunky riffs and driving grooves over the course of three decades in venerable groups such as Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Mondo Generator and Vista Chino. He’s brought the thump and lived to toke about it.
For their first-ever gig in Chile—October 19 in capital city Santiago’s Sala Metrónomo—Bjork and his bandmates arrived at a curious time. Decades of neoliberal economic policies and post-Pinochet reforms haven’t reduced the yawning gap between the haves and the haves-much-less. In fact, the country suffers from the highest rate of income inequality in the rich man’s club of OECD member states. After an announced hike in the cost of metro tickets, populist demonstrations ignited, looters set fire to supermarkets, students chucked rocks at the military, scruffy-faced teens defied curfews, and tanks rolled into the streets. The country’s tone-deaf billionaire president then announced that Chile was “at war with criminals” and declared a state of emergency.
Bjork’s extensive catalog provides an appropriate soundtrack to Chile’s current woes. While latest album Jacoozi (Heavy Psych Sounds) is a lazy promenade through sunny jazz/psych, the group’s live performances crank up Southern-fried rebel rock. For those who pump their fists triumphantly at an in-yer-face metal that don’t take no guff from nobody, BB is a stoner Che, rallying the masses to storm the pot dispensary.
But not surprisingly, in light of the country‘s most serious social upheaval in four decades, Bjork’s gig was cancelled.
He’s never sounded better.