Truckfighters bring fuzzy feeling

By James Firkins

Guitarist Niklas Källgren walks onstage to the capacity crowd, takes off his shirt, throws it into the audience, picks up his guitar and opens a wall of sound. 

He runs to the front, allowing the crowd to hit the strings as drummer Daniel Israelsson and bassist and vocalist Oskar Cedermalm step onstage, before bouncing around relentlessly, jumping, running, shouting and kicking. As the band Truckfighters frenetically works through the groovy new riffs of its latest album V, Källgren never stops. It’s inspiring and impossible to resist.

Truckfighters, formed in Örebro, Sweden, in 2001, is a desert rock band often likened to genre giants Fu Manchu or Kyuss. Its groove-laden riffs are innovative and the tone of the guitars show an attention and care for the music they create. V, released Sept. 30, 2016, via their own Fuzzorama Records outside the U.S., is a slight change in direction for the band because it augments its heavy stoner rock sound with lengthier atmospheric, psychedelic sections.

A fresh new album inevitably means another tour, and V has Truckfighters traveling across the globe, with a range of dates in America, Canada and Sweden. On Jan. 24, it was Chicago’s turn to host this burgeoning group of stoner rockers at Reggies Rock Club, 2109 S. State St., featuring support from U.S. openers Kings Destroy and Blue Dream.

The decent-sized venue has exposed-brick walls and a blue-lit bar, and the countless band stickers plastered on most surfaces show that Reggies has hosted a multitude of talents. As the crowd began to fill the space, Blue Dream played funky psychedelic rock to start out the night, featuring Mick Jagger-esque vocals, loud shirts and a particularly amorous bassist who was more Spinal-Tap than Rolling Stones. Kings Destroy followed, hailing from Brooklyn, and its “no-nonsense” approach translated into an honest set list featuring Kyuss-style vocals—ranging from doom metal sludge to fervent hardcore.

With the crowd suitably fired up, Truckfighters played for more than an hour, not counting the few minutes between the main set and the encore. With their fuzzy, bold, heavy sound playing through Bogner, Hiwatt and Line6 amps, these Swedish rockers provided a truly interactive show, never forgetting the crowd for a moment and instigating call-and-response, encouraging fans to sing along, headbang and mosh, and reveal why the band is steadily earning a stalwart fanbase. 

After the show and sweating, tired and out of breath, Källgren was still on fire. Returning to the merch table to help the sudden rush of fans high-fiving, buying vinyl and t-shirts, he displayed an infectious enthusiasm that other musicians in the genre of rock might eschew. When asked about how the show felt he said, “It felt good.” Proving the crowd is Truckfighters’ main focus for creating great desert rock he went on to say, “Fans are great in Chicago. May the fuzz be with you.”

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