Sometimes you just “gotta roll with it”, as the song goes! Like when you decide to go see a band play live, despite the fact that you know they are going to play “not your type of music” BUT (deal-breaker) you met the guitarist once in another more “golden” guise, and he was a really entertaining, funny dude so you think to yourself, “Hell yeah, why not, nothing to lose but my hearing”.
That was the logic behind my pitching up at the Rick Ashtray gig in Cafe Lokka, during the second night of the Trondheim Calling festival. Rick who? Yeah, me neither until I accidentally discovered them through their connection with psych lovin’ golden boys, Gold Celeste. You see the “not the drummer, drummer” in GC is Petter Haugen Andersen, a dude who is very much the “not the drummer, guitarist” in Rick Ashtray (he also dabbles in soon to be cult band, Odd Loves to Dance). Ipso facto PHA was the catalyst that sparked my interest and drove me to listen to their music in the first place.
Lasse Febakke (bass), Olav Austegard (drums) and Christopher Robin Omdahl (synths, tambourine & 100m dash) make up the rest of this Fuzzpunk vanguard. Their style is a noisy, punky rock – totally against the swerve – however, having listened to their song “Cops”, the lead single from their self-titled debut album, I was convinced that I could withstand 30 minutes of full decibel noisefesting and so off I went on a snowy Norwegian night, and slip slod my way to the on-trend, bijou music venue Cafe Lokka, which to my amazement, was more jam-packed than a tin of sardines! ‘Quelle surprise’!
Attired in the full ‘denim’ monty accessorised with colourful bandanas Axel Rose stylee, our four rockers took to the teeny stage to much clamour and whistling. The capacity crowd, which even contained some members of the Norwegian musical elite in the form of a few Dråpe-sters (yeah that was me saying hello!), were on fire before the Ashtrays even plucked a chord!
And with the crowd already “up for it” Rick Ashtray got straight down to it, belting out song after song, one more frenergetic than the next. ‘Puddle of Bud’, ‘Cops’, and ‘Daddy’ (Are You Gonna Be My) whipped the audience into a frenzy and nonemoreso than the dude standing next to me who from the get-go shouted ‘Your Generation’ non-stop for 30+minutes.
Well he had to wait a bit longer as the standout track of the night was between him and his “special song”. ‘Clone Wars’ was by far the best track of the night -yeah, I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either! Well, I am a hardened Manics fan, but guys you can consider this psych/indie groovin’ chick
Now to call a spade a shovel, the vocals weren’t exactly 100% the may west all of the time, but to be fair, the type of songs they sing don’t exactly lend themselves to the songbird type of vocal (vocal duties are shared between Andersen and Febakke). Conversely, the musicianship was of a standard pretty much up there with the best of them, with Olav Austegard producing stand out moments courtesy of some of explosive engagement with his bass drum whilst the aforementioned duo of Andersen and Febakke fairly rocked it out on guitar and bass respectively, with the former giving some exceptional bursts of searing solos that had the crowd gagging for more.
Finally, at the end of a frantic set, our hero, Mr SuperFan finally got his wish and the band launched into crowd pleaser and obvious firm favourite, ‘Your Generation’. It went down a storm and storm it was – less that two minutes of musical scorch that brought what was a brilliant set to a rip roaring close.
Now the one thing that made this band stand out from the “musical crowd of Trondheim” was in a word, FUN. From the moment they stepped onto the stage it was obvious that these four guys were intent on having a blast, and in return for their full on efforts, the crowd fed them energy in spades. Rick Ashtray weren’t just intent on putting on a good gig, they were determined to relish every minute of their set and ensure that the crowd did likewise.
Now, not only was I lucky enough to see these guys play live once, I was charmed to see them play for a second time on the following night, in the bigger, bolder and bulging venue, Dokkhuset, which was playing host to the festival headliner and closing act, Tellef Raabe. Faced with the crowd of crowds, Rick Ashtray took off like an Airbus 320, and if I thought their performance on the Friday night was explosive, the one on Saturday was musical gelignite.
Two things set this gig apart from its precursor – the first was PHA’s mind bogglingly good guitar solo that nearly stripped the varnish off the ceiling, and the second was the bands decision, led by ‘Tambourine Man’ Omdahl, to run down onto the floor and dart through the throng whilst continuing to play, much to the delight of the audience. Once again I’ll return to the F-word – FUN.
In the more acoustic friendly Dokkhuset Rick Ashtray’s sound and vocal was significantly improved and with a more than pumped up crowd their performance was a raucous fun-fest more than worthy of its place on the festivals closing night line up.
Rick Ashtray are a live “experience” not to be missed and while their musical style may not be to everyone’s taste, their enthusiasm, energy and exuberance is so totally infectious, one cannot help being won over.
This band put the F into FUN and without doubt gave the most FUN-filled, dynamic performance of TC and in return, they reaped one hell of an enthusiastic reception, which can only bode well for their new album, released on 5th Feb, available to stream and download.
If you see Rick Ashtray advertised to play a venue near you in the future, do not hesitate to buy your ticket and go. There’s nothing like a group of fun loving fuzzsters to liven up your life and brighten up your night!
Rick Ashtray’s eponymous debut album is out now, check it out on Spotify.
Follow Rick Ashtray on FB to keep up to speed with their rockin’ out antics.