Review: Fatso Jetson ‘Live At Maximum Festival’ Reissue

Reissued in a lavish, updated digi-sleeve CD box edition, the Live At Maximum Festival set from Fatso Jetson sees one of the most understated desert rock bands getting down and dirty live in front of a rabid crowd of Italian music fans back in 2013 in a manner that is a pure moment of exhilarating raw power.

Fatso Jetson 'Live At Maximum Festival'

Originally released on vinyl in 2014, this blistering forty-minute live set helped propel Go Down Records to international recognition outside of their native Italy and now looks to give back more of the love by including a poster of the artwork and a HD version of the performance for streaming or download.

Formed in Palm Desert, California in 1994 Fatso Jetson are often spoken of being the forefathers of the stoner and desert rock scene. Whilst more mainstream credit is given to their upstart neighbours Kyuss and Fu Manchu, the fact is that much of the pioneering sound finds its roots in the blues rich, heavy fuzz of the Lali brothers, of which Mario and Larry can also lay claim to being founder members of the seminal Yawning Man along with guitar maestro Gary Arce.

Known more these days for their psychedelic and acid-prog leanings, the band had an early reputation for being a shit kicking rock and roll band that carved out huge slabs of pounding Sabbath influenced mayhem. Recorded on the Legends Of The Desert tour, which saw them pair with the aforementioned Yawning Man, the performance captures the band firing on all cylinders and treating the audience to an ear full of potty mouthed stage banter.

Having more in common with the top down, high octane road trip vibes of Fu Manchu than their other band. The show reeks of a riotous punk spirit from the opening number Tutta Dorma, where laidback guitar noodling breaks into a rockabilly like blues boogie serves as an intro to Orgy Porgy heralded by Mario’s gruff vocals, sounding like a wide eyed drunk who has just smoked an entire carton of cigarettes. The track disintegrates into a stop start rhythm that recalls an old blues master riffing ab lib on stage in a smoke filled club which lends the proceeding a raw intimate feeling.

Bored Stiff is where Fatso Jetson start to tease out their real credentials. Low key guitar bends break out into classic anthemic walls of sound bringing out the deep grooves that would have the punters nodding with the powerful shaking bass of Larry and lone non-family member Tony Tornay thumping the kit as the driving heart of the band.

Moving on from technical difficulties and profanities, festival goers are treated to the histrionic led Flesh Trap Blues with its tumbling swagger and the frenetic Nightmares Are Essential which showcase the bands ability to turn on a dime from hypnotic to pure rock fury.

the Maximum Festival set captures the band in their prime rock and roll best; raw, chaotic and dripping with energy…

Salt Chunk Mary is a more straight forward piece of driving rock with shouted chorus despite their loose jam feel with the members playing off each other, seemingly bound by telepathy or familial instinct that inspired the hard rock stylings of Karma To Burn, before they charge into the eight minute multi-faceted instrumental workout of Too Many Skulls.

Rounding off the main portion of the performance with the epic length closer, Fatso Jetson start with a barrage of feedback before charging into the fret bothering blues workout. When they settle down again, they morph seamlessly into that lazy, tripped out guitar noodling that has become such a staple of the genre. Part retro hippy freakout that the likes of The Doors did so well, and part underlying punk edge, they play with you like a puppet on strings, holding the crowd in the palm of their hands as the psychedelic accents swirl over the rumbling bass work.

After the physically exhausting track, there is the briefest of pauses before they return with the encore of Magma to send the crowd home happy. Rich earthy tones ring out in a celebratory groove as Mario croons and bellows, rounding off a loose but accomplished set, delivered in the style that only Fatso Jetson can do.

Despite being originally performed some nine years ago, the Maximum Festival set captures the band in their prime rock and roll best; raw, chaotic and dripping with energy. This may not be the most polished performance ever committed to tape, but it marks a passionate delivery and a milestone in the scene, not only for Fatso Jetson, but the festival and the label.

This reissue would probably not be described as essential given it has been on steaming platforms and even YouTube for many years, but the CD package, complete with the quality video footage is manna for completists and shows a love for the band that is beyond reproach. If nothing else, it is a great reminder of the vitality and importance of the band and a chance to step back in time and rock out with abandon to what seems like far more simpler times.

Label: Go Down Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden