Brutus (Botaniek, Mechelen) – 4/7/2021

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And we’re back! It’s been too long since we’ve attended a live concert ever since global culture went all but extinct. Sure, the musical world has been fighting back with full force as bands have been struggling to keep their heads above water by organizing streaming concerts and whatnot. I’ve checked out a few and, while most are okay, it’s just not the same. I’ve seen far too much of my couch and my desk chair the past year. But there’s hope. I am once again hearing the call of the sweet green fields rife with empty beer cups and passed out drunk metalheads. And tonight the seductive voice is hailing from Botaniek Live in Mechelen, where our beloved local heroes Psychonaut and Brutus are playing their first live gigs in a long while. As I take my (seated) place among the eager crowd, the contents of my surroundings are slowly but surely dawning on me. Drinks on tap? The smell of weed and cigarettes? A merch booth? People wearing band shirts? My god. It’s true. I am actually attending a festival!

Psychonaut (***1/2)

We start off with Mechelen’s metal heroes from Psychonaut. What’s in a name, you say? Well, exactly what you’d imagine. This moderately famed local trio brings us psychedelic metal with some stoner vibes which are hinted at in their ability to groove it up while keeping it mellow at the same time. That’s kind of their sweet spot, and I ate it up like honey on toast. These cheerful lads have been dying to play a live concert and it shows. As a consequence the crowd warmed up to them easily as it was many people’s fist gig since long as well.

Despite a few minor sound issues, which are to be expected on a festival stage, Psychonaut manages to captivate the thirsty crowd and even succeeds in getting a few asses off their mandatory benches. Jazzy breaks, soaring guitar pitches and a mix of clean and harsh vocals of varying quality, are precisely what I needed after such an imposed long break with live music. I enjoyed this opener thoroughly.

Set list:
All I Saw Was a Huge Monkey
The Story of Your Enslavement
Halls of Amenti
The Fall of Consciousness
Psychedelic Mammoth

Brutus (***1/2)

I’m honestly quite happy my return to live music could happen in attendance of such fine Belgian artists. After Psychonaut reminded me there’s still hope for the future of festivals, in walks their Leuven colleagues, Brutus. I’ve seen the dynamic trio more than I can count and I always dig them. Stefanie is as mesmerizing as ever going nuts on drums while she’s mustering all her strength to sing as loud as she can. Although her performance suffers from uneven volume, you can’t begrudge her too much. I will always cut some slack to drummers who decide to take up the mic as well. In any case, you can always count on fellow band mates Peter and Stijn to keep you invested in the music, should your attention span falter when the vocals leave to be desired.

This concert was over far too quickly however. Brutus even had plenty of time left but, to our big surprise and disappointment, didn’t indulge the crowd’s obvious wish for an encore. Most of us were at least expecting them to round it up with a classic like ‘All Along‘ or ‘Baby Seal‘ but it wasn’t meant to be. Such a shame that a strong start should end so flat.

Set list:
What Have We Done
Horde II
Justice de Julia II
Sugar Dragon

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