Psycho Las Vegas 2020 Announces Ulver, Mayhem, Elder, Ty Segall, Windhand, Kaelan Mikla, Mephistofeles and Blonde Redhead to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2020 logo

Psycho Las Vegas 2020 has begun the process of unveiling its lineup, and already it’s all-over-the-place in that precariously well-named kind of way. That is, Psycho, and, well, yeah. Familiar faces Elder and Windhand return, and Ulver, Blonde Redhead, Mayhem, Kaelan MiklaMephistofeles and Ty Segall and the Freedom Band will join on as well for a varied and already kinda overwhelming aesthetic reach that should be perfectly suited to the festival’s gonna-blow-minds mission and generally hallucinatory vibes. Like a mirage all the more so for the blurred vision of those in attendance. There’s a difference between drinking in the heat and drinking in heat. At Psycho, they do both.

Also they get stoned.

I got asked the other day if I was planning to write another book anytime soon. I said I wasn’t, but that’s not entirely true. I’d like to fly out to Psycho Las Vegas 2020, maybe a day early, eat a bunch of mushrooms in some stupidly-deluxe hotel room and gonzo my way through 20,000-odd words over the course of the four-day fest experience and then publish that in paperback. It would not be a common photos-and-words review. It might not be a review at all. But it would be something, and I think it would be fun to do, and an experience befitting the atmosphere for the fest itself. I haven’t made that pitch yet to Psycho. I’m not sure if they’d go for it.

Anyway, here’s the lineup announcement. Private bathrooms for the win:

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2020: First Round Of Artists Announced Including Ty Segall & The Freedom Band, Mayhem, Ulver, Windhand, Blonde Redhead, And More; Tickets On Sale Now!

America’s rock n’ roll bacchanal, PSYCHO LAS VEGAS, will return to Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino for a second consecutive year August 14th through August 16th 2020. Set to commence with a pre-party at Daylight Beach Club on August 13th, PSYCHO LAS VEGAS remains the premier rock festival destination offering fans one of the most unique and immersive festival formats in the world.

Now approaching its fifth year in the swirling neon decadence of Las Vegas, the resort-wide takeover will utilize four stages including the world-class Mandalay Bay Events Center, the iconic House Of Blues, Mandalay Bay Beach, and Rhythm & Riffs Lounge located at the center of the casino floor. With its signature mix of grit, grime, and grandeur, PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2020 will continue to redefine America’s conception of what a music festival can be.

The curators of the event are pleased to unveil the first round of artists to grace the PSYCHO stages with California garage rock icons Ty Segall & The Freedom Band, New York alternative noise rock veterans Blonde Redhead, Virginia doom metal unit Windhand, and Massachusetts psyche metallers Elder (scheduled to play the pre-party), as well as Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem, long-running Norwegian dark ambient collective Ulver, Icelandic synth punk trio Kaelan Mikla, and Argentinian dark electric “mausoleum music” makers Mephistofeles.

Tickets for PSYCHO LAS VEGAS as well as the PSYCHO SWIM pre-party, which requires a separate ticket from the main festival pass, are on sale now!

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS offers several pricing tiers and payment plans starting with a $20 deposit. 3-Day GA Weekender passes start at $199 (excluding tax and fees). Limited VIP 3-Day High Roller passes – which sell out annually – are available for $499 (excluding tax and fees) and include:

— VIP access for all three days of the festival + entry to the Thursday pre-party
— VIP hotel and festival check-in at Mandalay Bay
— Dedicated lines for expedited entry to all stages of the festival
— Private viewing areas, seating, restrooms and bars at three stages of the festival
— Limited edition and exclusive merch item for 2020 High Rollers only

Tickets for all PSYCHO LAS VEGAS events can be purchased at VivaPsycho.com or AXS.com.

Meticulously curated, PSYCHO LAS VEGAS has gained worldwide recognition for consistently delivering lineups that grow increasingly diverse and eclectic with each passing year, the magnitude of which have yet to be seen in North America. From post-rock, to black metal, to world music and even electronica, PSYCHO’s wide-ranging allure has expanded ceaselessly since its inception, bringing together musicians and artists from seemingly immiscible corners of the musical world.

https://www.facebook.com/events/3255628101138593/
http://www.vivapsycho.com
http://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
http://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Elder, Live at Psycho Smokeout 2019

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Elder, Dead Roots Stirring

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So yes, I’ve been thinking about what are some of the best heavy records of the decade. We’re almost halfway into 2019, it’s time for a bit of reflection on what the heavy ’10s have wrought. I’ll probably do a poll at some point in the next couple months instead of my own list — frankly, I’m more curious what everyone else thinks — but I have to imagine Elder‘s 2011 second album for MeteorCity, Dead Roots Stirring (review here), belongs somewhere in that discussion. I don’t think it’s album of the decade, or even the greatest achievement Elder have had in the last 10 years, but it was an important moment for the Massachusetts then-trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, when they began to really show who they were becoming as a band and how their songwriting process was beginning to realize a more progressive vision. Their prior 2008 self-titled debut (discussed here) made its impression via riffs and grooving largesse. Dead Roots Stirring, at the time, was an entirely different level of achievement for Elder, and it set them on the path toward not only emerging as a touring band, but becoming an essential voice of progressive heavy rock and an influence for others to follow.

That’s hindsight, so I’ll stress that when it came out, no one knew that was going to happen. Elder had played some outside of their native Boston and gained a reputation for blowing much older bands off the stage, but I can remember vividly putting on Dead Roots Stirring for the first time, making my way through “Gemini” and the 12-minute title-track that follows it, and being fairly blindsided by the leap in their sound. Now, that’s just what they do, right? Every album is a considerable step forward from the one before it. They’ve done it four times. But Dead Roots Stirring was the first leap, and I still feel the impact of that when I listen to the record. The turn to acoustics in the intro to the instrumental “III” and the graceful build-up from there; the way they embraced not only the longer-form work of the debut, but shifted that to tell a story with the music as well as the lyrics. Elder‘s songwriting process has long since defied conventional logic. That is, they’ve never really been a verse-chorus-verse-chorus band. It’s always, “We’ll take this part and put it next to this part and sometimes we’ll maybe repeat a part and it’ll be awesome because Matt half-times the drums or something.” And why the hell should that work? Aside from Couto half-timing the drums, because I’m sorry, but that’s always going to be great. But seriously, Elder manage to turn a part played once into a hook, and one can hear that throughout Dead Roots Stirring, on “Dead Roots Stirring” itself, certainly, so elder dead roots stirringthat when a riff does come back around, its effect is all the more highlighted. It’s dumbfounding. It shouldn’t work. Other bands do it, and it just sounds like part-mashing. Elder do it and it’s brilliant.

I won’t take away from the opening salvo of which that title-track is part. “Gemini” into “Dead Roots Stirring” is probably one of the strongest one-two punches a heavy rock record has offered in the last 10 years — and yes, I mean that — but “III,” “The End” and “Knot” showed even more how far their reach had expanded in the three years since their debut. Already noted was the poise of “III,” which not only served its individual function, but fed into the overarching flow of the entire album as its centerpiece, leading to the tumbling fuzzout of “The End,” which was probably the most guitar-led of an album that’s still very much guitar-led. Peppered throughout with leads and backed by a solid groove, the song moved through a long instrumental passage at its end to cap with undulating volume swells and give a direct transition into close “Knot,” which was just a few second shy of the title-cut’s 12 minutes. The finale showed rare swagger on the part of the band, much bolstered by Donovan‘s bass, and swung its way into a overload wash of noise at the end, something Elder‘s cleaner tones on subsequent work would never really allow them to do again. I recall hearing a lot of Colour Haze in Dead Roots Stirring at the time, and I hear some less now, but there’s no question Elder were already pulling from more than just the conventional heavy-rock-riffout playbook even eight years ago. This was something special. Still is.

And of course, Elder have continued to build on it to a point where they’ll be back on tour in Europe starting next week (click here to pop out tour banner). I was fortunate enough to see them two weeks ago headlining the inaugural Desertfest NYC (review here), and they were every bit the headlining act, professional in their delivery but still clearly passionate about what they do and with the kind of draw to anchor a festival lineup. Their last two albums, 2015’s landmark Lore (review here) and 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World (review here), have pushed them further along the progressive path, growing increasingly clearheaded in their purposes as they step forward from what Dead Roots Stirring and its 2012 companion EP, Spires Burn/Release (review here), accomplished, and their profile has only grown to match. The last album was doubly notable for being the point where they added a fourth member in guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg, and allowed themselves a little more room to explore different textures touching on psychedelia and jamming in ways they never had before. They’re slated to release a new EP along those lines called The Gold and Silver Sessions of instrumental work — kind of a one-off — but it will be interesting to hear when they embark on a fifth full-length if and how that plays into their sound.

Because if Elder‘s output over the last 11 years been anything, it’s been a narrative thread of progress, with each offering using the one before it as a springboard to new modes of expression. I won’t guess where their next record will take them in terms of sound, but I’ll be glad to find out when the time comes, just as I was that first time I put on Dead Roots Stirring years ago.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Oh, my aching head. Whenever I get a real-deal toothache, I think of that scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks goes DIY-dentist on his mouth with an ice skate. Something on the stage left side of my mouth has been giving me similar impulses all week, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a distraction from writing. Last night I was up a few times overnight from the combined pain of the toothache plus the inevitable jaw clenching I do in my sleep because, well, unresolved trauma, I guess? I don’t know. Anyway, it hurt like a bastard to the point that 2AM found me downstairs digging the tube of Orajel out of the couch cushion to numb it up. Good fun.

So yes, this week, as American democracy develops yet-more cracks in its imitation-Roman marble and the UN says like a million species are dying because humans exist, I’ve been busy thinking about my hurty tooth. Is it the worst thing that’s every happened to anyone in the existence of mankind? Yes. It is. Sorry. It’s the worst.

It’s been two weeks since I properly closed out a week. Whoops. Two weeks ago was Desertfest NYC. That was fun. Last week was the New England Stoner and Doom Fest, and though I didn’t end up going — family matters; it happens — I didn’t really pull the plug on it until Friday afternoon, and as I was already in the car and driving, just didn’t have the opportunity to put something together. I only mention it because it was noted in a comment. If you’ve been aching for a Friday Full-Length, I thought Elder would probably do the job nicely. I hope that’s the case.

This past weekend was The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. The 15th episode. I’ve been talking this week to the program director, Brian Turner, about swapping out for a weekday shift, since apparently the Thursday replays have been going well. I think that’s pretty nifty. I didn’t really imagine doing the radio thing would last this long. I thought it would be a couple episodes, the audience would be like, “This isn’t Dave Mustaine — screw you!” and I’d get summarily shitcanned. Not to say it couldn’t still happen, but it hasn’t yet. I’ll keep you posted when the next episode is going to go live, but it looks like maybe Friday the 24th at 1PM Eastern? We’ll see if that’s final. I need to email Brian back, which I’ll do as soon as I finish writing this.

Neat either way, though, and twice as encouraging, because basically with that show I’m trying to play so much new stuff. I don’t know. It feels good to do a thing and have it be well received. That’s all. Give me my moment. I know it won’t last.

Next week is packed. I’ve been getting to the point where people hit me up for coverage and stuff and I’ve had to issue flat turn-downs. Not because I don’t want to cover whatever it is, just because everything’s already slated. It’s madness, I tell you.

Here are the notes, subject to change blah blah:

MON 05/13 LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE REVIEW
TUE 05/14 ETHEREAL RIFFIAN VID PREMIERE; LANGFINGER LIVE ALBUM TRACK PREMIERE
WED 05/15 SLOMATICS PREMIERE
THU 05/16 KALEIDOBOLT TRACK PREMIERE
FRI 05/17 VALLEY OF THE SUN ALBUM STREAM

There might also be another video premiere on Monday if I can properly coordinate it in time. If not, maybe later in the week? I don’t know. This week was oddly light on news, but I’ve already got stuff slated for Monday — friggin’ Truckfighters are putting together a festival in Stockholm; thanks guys, I was gonna do that! — so that’s good. I feel better when I’m playing catchup.

But seriously, new Slomatics, Kaleidobolt, Valley of the Sun and Langfinger next week? All premieres? And a new Ethereal Riffian video? Even if nothing else happens, that’s a pretty badass week right there. I’m stoked to be doing a Slomatics premiere. Their new album frickin’ fantastic. Likewise Valley of the Sun. Two year-end-listers for sure.

Alright, this post has gone on long enough and I won’t delude myself into thinking anyone’s still reading, but if you are, thanks for doing so. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you check out the forum, radio stream and merch over at Dropout.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , ,

Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night Three, 04.28.19

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The final day of a festival is always bittersweet, in any context. This being the first Desertfest NYC, it was a time to step back and take stock of the event, the crowd, the proceedings, what worked well, what could be tweaked in the future, and in what ways generally it could grow — because if the Desertfests in Berlin, London and Antwerp are any indication of intent, growth is the idea.

So what about it? The venue worked. The Well is a cool spot, and you almost feel like you’re getting away with something out on that back patio. The tent for the main stage worked. The food worked. The free iced coffee cans from Stumptown Roasters certainly worked for me, if we’re defining “worked” as “kept me upright.” The sound worked. The lights worked for the most part. And the location worked. I got street parking both days, no problem. Mark it a win based on that alone.

The second stage room was intentionally smaller and got to be a squeeze, and with the way the door was, you were either in or out — there was no peaking through to see the band onstage. Not that that’s the ideal way of seeing live music, but it’s better than nothing. It was easy enough to get there early, but I heard people noting it just the same. And it was cold. Yesterday more so than the day before. The sun teased a couple times but wasn’t out for more than about 20 minutes at any point, and then it was night, so it got colder. Rain held off, which was a relief, but there was definitely a flux of people going inside for a bit to get warm before going back out to be in front of the main stage. April in New York. That’s a possibility.

But on the whole, given the crowd size and response, the fact that it ran so well from front to back, and the general spirit of those playing and attending comingling and having a good time, I wouldn’t call it anything but a success. Desertfest is a brand, and they were feeling out a new, tough market in New York, but they pulled it off. I was given a t-shirt and I’ll wear it proudly. I hope they do another.

But holy crap was I tired.

Really, just a mess. Doing a festival is one thing. Doing it not completely removed from the rest of one’s life is quite something else, and I could feel myself showing signs of wear and tear especially early in the day before what little adrenaline my deeply flawed body could produce got to work and got me through. That coffee didn’t hurt either. You’ve made a customer for life, Stumptown. I mean that. I don’t usually even drink iced coffee.

Felt like an earlier start than it was at 3:15PM:

Unearthly Trance

Unearthly Trance (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As sadly will happen, Fatso Jetson canceled their trip east to open the third and final day of Desertfest NYC 2019, and I guess it was something of a scramble, but the fest kind of wound up with the opposite. If Fatso Jetson are desert rock, Unearthly Trance are dystopian-expanse-of-concrete-under-a-dark-grey-sky metal. Local heroes from Brooklyn, their 2017 comebacker full-length, Stalking the Ghost (review here), was followed last year by a split with Relapse labelmates Primitive Man (review here), and the few years they spent apart clearly did not dull their impact or atmospheric breadth. Playing in the tent with the sun outside, they were still unremitting in their darkness, and their slow, churning sonic gruel was served up cold to the early crowd, which was perhaps still bleary-eyed from the night before but primed to get bleary-eyed all over again, in no small part to keep warm. That’s a thing, right? Whatever. Unearthly Trance were loud as fuck and bleaker than they were loud. They’ve always been more of an export than a NY-scene band, at least since about 15 years ago, but they gave Brooklyn a showing of some of its best homegrown, and so could’ve hardly been more fitting for that spot.

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s a good band. They’ve got their kinks and quirks to work out — don’t we all — but the second they realize how much power they actually command from the stage, it’s all over. They’ve got newly-announced tour dates in June that begin in Denver at Electric Funeral Festival and will see them bum around the Midwest for a while, and that’s only going to help. More of that. But already their presence is significant. I haven’t seen them since they released Seismic Vibes (review here), which was a debut I was anticipating to an almost embarrassing degree, so they were an absolute must for my weekend, and hearing them do “Open Road” and “God is Dead,” two of the most potent hooks from among the many boogie-driven brainmelters on the record was more than welcome. They would close with the Budgie cover they just issued digitally, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” but their energy was infectious and as I stood there and watched I imagined what it might’ve been like to see Nebula 20-plus years ago when they were just really starting to hit it. It couldn’t have been much different. Sun Voyager are awash in potential now and starting to put the work in to pay that off. I will continue to hope they get there.

Ruby the Hatchet

Ruby the Hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forerunners of Philadelphia’s burgeoning heavy psychedelic movement, Ruby the Hatchet brought presence and the chops to back it up in kind to their set outside on the main stage. The Tee Pee rollers were fresh off Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore on April 20 and were on the West Coast earlier this year supporting 2017’s Planetary Space Child LP (review here), and I’ve seen them live a few times at this point, so to find them locked in wasn’t really a surprise as such. The difference was just what they were able to do in being so locked in. It was a classic heavy rock show. Frontwoman Jillian Taylor led the way through the show, with Johnny “Scarps” Scarperia setting the foundation in riffs somewhere between psychedelic rock and proto-doom, Lake Muir‘s bass and Owen Stewart’s drums pushing the groove forward and the keys — it was quite a setup — of Sean Hur adding texture beyond what one finds in the standard boogie rock of the heavy ’10s. Their next album will say a lot for what the ultimate story of Ruby the Hatchet will be, but their live show left nothing to question about who they are as a band, and the Uriah Heep cover for a finale was a particularly nice choice. Hail heavy prog.

ASG

ASG (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve never been a huge fan of North Carolinian four-piece ASG. Not for lack of respect for the work they do, the time they’ve put in touring, the quality of their records, and so on. Sometimes it just doesn’t click, and I’ll readily acknowledge that’s me and not the band, who obviously weren’t hurting for proponents as they packed out the tent outside at The Well, the chilly air getting chillier and the vibe getting its collective buzz on. I grabbed a can of coffee — honestly, if it had been a bucket, I’d have grabbed that — and watched them for a while and tried to figure out the mental block was stopping me from getting on board. Their 2018 album, Survive Sunrise, was a pick in the Year-End Poll, and I’ve been writing about the band on and off since I saw them in 2011, but everybody else had me beat by far in terms of being into it. My loss, I’ve no doubt. It usually is with that kind of thing. Gave me a chance to go inside and get warm.

Duel

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Does Duel‘s reputation precede them yet? Maybe, given the fact that the room with the Desertfest NYC second stage was filling up 80 minutes before the Austin, Texas, four-piece were slated to go on. Part of that was wanting to keep warm, but the band were setting up their gear and looked surprised to see the expectant faces staring back at them. Fair enough. Duel have a pair of killer studio records under their collective belt for Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), and they’re about to unleash the third, Valley of Shadows (review here), on a speedy turnaround May 17 and do the bulk of their label’s impending West Coast package tour earlier next month as preparation for heading to Europe for a month on the road there. So yeah, Duel seemed to be in a good place as they came back on stage at their appointed time and destroyed that tiny room in a way that would’ve translated well to the stage outside, playing like a band taking their delivery to the next level and doing their best work to-date on all fronts. They were riotous and a pleasure to watch. It once again got slammed in the small second stage space as they rose to the occasion, and while everyone there may or may not have known what they were in for, they will next time. Duel are very quickly making themselves essential. A do-not-miss reputation won’t, and maybe doesn’t already, hurt.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure if Monolord‘s new album — which will also mark their jump from RidingEasy Records to Relapse — is done, or if they’re just already touring for it, but the Swedish trio might as well have been flashing a sign from the stage that said, “NOW IS THE HEADLINING PORTION OF THE EVENING.” Indeed, they and Elder who would follow made up the headliner spots and in the case of Monolord, their primeval riffing, ultra-grooving largesse, chemistry boomed like it was in a meth lab and still-just-dudes-who-like-to-play-loud stage presence was already a highlight of the weekend by the time the first song of their set was done. They’re on the road in the US only briefly this time, having done the Psycho Smokeout on the West Coast as well as this, but they’ll be back for sure after a summer spent in Europe. And I don’t know when they’re record’s coming out, but you’d be a fool not to hold a place on your best-of-the-year list for it whenever it actually happens, because if Monolord have proven anything to this point in their career, it’s consistent. Other bands play, Monolord kill. Make the t-shirt with the spoof logo and sell a million of them. You’re welcome.

Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Green Milk from the Planet Orange (Photo by JJ Koczan)

All three members of Tokyo’s Green Milk from the Planet Orange played seated. Or at least for the most part seated, since I don’t think any of them stayed sitting the entire time, up to and including the drummer, but the arrangement gave their set on the second stage a jazzy feel, with their mega-freaked-out astro-prog heavy grind enhancing that mood. A neon green bass was visible even on what all day was the dark side of the stage, and they likewise were a beacon of weirdness in an undulating sea of riffery. A band on their own wavelength aren’t always easy to listen to — and I’d imagine Green Milk from the Planet Orange‘s new record, which they had for sale outside in the merch area, is plenty frenetic — but the trio made the math add up in their sound and were fun even as they dared the crowd to keep up with them. Most couldn’t, frankly, but that’s the nature of the kind of progressivism a band like that taps into. It’s never been and it never will be for everyone. It was awesome to witness, however, and for the technical prowess and the weirdo vibes coming off the stage, they were a highlight unto themselves. You need that sore thumb band sometimes.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elder are arguably the most forward-thinking band in the current American heavy rock underground. By starting out young, they’ve become the spearhead of a generation of acts, and the work they’ve done throughout this decade is unmatched in its scope and the sheer will toward exploring new ideas. Plus it’s heavy. And plus, it rocks. I mean, there are a lot of krautrock bands out there. They’re in Europe. And the US has its fair share of heavy in various stripes, whether it’s desert rock or psych or doom metal or whatever the hell else we’re on this week, but what Elder tie together with their sound is a signature blend of influences that no one else can match, and their style of songwriting is inimitable. The way their parts interact with each other like Nick DiSalvo, Michael Risberg, Jack Donovan and Matt Couto have a musical conversation on stage. The way they’re able to build tension subtly and find just the right moment to swap out trajectories and head someplace else. It’s brilliant in the very real sense of luminosity. They are important, yes, because their influence will continue to spread, but they’re also incredible just to stand back and watch play. Every bit the headliner at this stage in their career, and I suspect they will remain that way for as long as they choose to do so. This is a special band doing special work on their own terms. Long may they reign.

Mick’s Jaguar

Mick's Jaguar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not going to pretend I had it in me to stand there for the entire Mick’s Jaguar set. I didn’t have it in me to stand there for the entire Elder set — I had to go sit inside for a couple minutes at one point or another — but I’d seen every band on all three days of Desertfest NY, so you’re damn right I stuck around and waited for them to go on. I love how New York’s version of party rock is still just a little mean. It’s the punk lineage, or at least the spirit of that culture, because even when a band like Mick’s Jaguar come out on the second stage and start tearing into songs from 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here), there’s still a little edge of “fuck you” to the good time they’re having. Like they’re saying, “fuck you we’re fun.” And they were a blast. It was late and dark in the room, but a lot of people had gone home after Elder, so Mick’s Jaguar were kind of the pre-after-party for the after-party happening after the show. I knew vaguely what to expect going into the set, but as tired as I was and as much as I still had that hour drive home ahead of me, I knew staying for one more song was the right way to go, and hey, no regrets.

The actual after-party was being held at The Anchored Inn around the corner. I said goodbyes at the venue and farted my way over there for a couple minutes to see how the cool kids live. They live boozy. I tried not to put my backpack in anyone’s face, failed, and then once again took my leave. Maybe I hadn’t been ready after all for Desertfest NY to end. Maybe I was delaying that drive home.

Either way, the toll would be paid this morning. Got to bed before 1AM, but the alarm went off at 5:50AM to get up, pack the car and drive back to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to work. It had been traffic all weekend, so I should’ve expected no different. Left at 7:30AM, got in at 1:30PM. Stops for diaper-change, gas, etc., but yeah. Still six hours for a trip that’s ideally not much over four.

That had me pretty much comatose for the afternoon, but I started this review during the baby’s nap and I’m finishing it now after he’s gone to bed. I’m falling asleep while I type and I still need to sort pictures, so I’ll leave it here, but before I go, heartfelt congratulations to Matte Vandeven and Reece Tee on a job well done, and thanks to them, Sarika, Jake and everyone else involved in the festival crew for having me along for it. I felt welcomed in a way that warmed my heart and set the tone for the entire experience. It was much, much appreciated. Here’s to the next one.

More pics after the jump:

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Desertfest NYC 2019 First Lineup Announcement: Windhand, Elder, Monolord, The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, Danava, Mirror Queen, Worshipper and Dommengang to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

DESERTFEST NYC 2019 BANNER

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here or anything, but I’ve been posting about Desertfest lineups pretty much since the whole thing started. And to me, this already looks like a Desertfest. The first lineup announcement for Desertfest NYC 2019 has been made, and the inaugural New York incarnation of the festival brand in partnership with Sound of Liberation and Tee Pee Records seems to represent multiple sides well. Windhand and their new Relapse labelmates Monolord are given prominent showing, as are Elder — because, let’s face it, if you’re running the first-ever Desertfest on US soil and you don’t get Elder to play, you’re fucking up — and Tee Pee Records is well represented with the likes of The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, Danava, Mirror Queen and Worshipper.

Rounding out the bill are L.A.’s Dommengang, who would seem to be the odd band out, but one listen to their Love Jail album that Thrill Jockey put out and you’ll see it’s no mystery why they’re here. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wound up touring east with another West Coast band — Danava come immediately to mind — but of course nothing to that effect has been announced and I’m just speculating.

Point is it’s already a solid bill and in addition to the bands, we now know that the venues involved will be the Saint Vitus Bar and The Well. I’ll have more on the lineup and whatnot as soon as I see it, but early bird tickets are on sale now at the long link below.

Dig it:

DESERTFEST NYC 2019 POSTER

FIRST ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR DF NYC + EARLY-BIRDS NOW ON SALE! We are stoked to welcome Windhand, Elder, Monolord, The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, DANAVA, Mirror Queen, Worshipper & Dommengang to the first edition of Desertfest New York – Taking place at Saint Vitus Bar on Friday 26th April and The Well on Saturday 27th April + Sunday 28th April.

A limited amount of 3-day early-bird passes are available for $65 via the below link – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/desertfest-nyc-2019-the-well-tickets/8942735?pl=thewell&fbclid=IwAR28zNtuppWWRVoi3vCXRkeGIg4wOD4FShfPgjbIPDGiOGPDOzbL2vj_UWE

Artwork by the wildly talented Mercerrock (Brian Mercer Design)

https://facebook.com/Desertfestnyc/
http://www.desertfest.nyc/

Monolord, Rust (2017)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PostWax: Vinyl Subscription Service Beats Crowdfunding Goal; New Music from Elder, Lowrider and Others

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I don’t get a mention in the press release or anything — hey, we can’t all be Peder Bergstrand or Mark Lanegan — but if you check the Kickstarter page for PostWax, you’ll see my name among those involved with the project. Rumor has it I’ll be contributing old-timey-style liner notes to the exclusive LP releases with likewise exclusive new music from the likes of Elder, Domkraft, Lowrider, Besvarjelsen, Spotlights and others. Seven records total in the first year and then more beyond that to come. Fucking staggering. And I’ve talked to project head Jadd Shickler, who founded MeteorCity once upon a time, currently helms Blues Funeral Recordings and does work besides for both Magnetic Eye Records and Ripple Music, about some of the packaging and design ideas he and Bergstrand have been kicking around and it’s whatever the next step beyond top of the line is. It moves the line.

I’m excited and humbled to be involved in the small way I am. Already looking forward to stressing out about the first deadline. You know the old liner notes that came with jazz records and stuff? Like that.

A press release came down announcing the thing, but even by then the Kickstarter goal was met. If you want a more direct payment option, they’ve got installment plans posted on Blues Funeral website, and I’m not gonna tell you it’s the holiday season, gift-giving, etc., but in the Great Material Continuum, there’s always room for limited vinyl. Here’s the info, and of course, expect more to come on it:

postwax logo

ELDER, SPOTLIGHTS, DOMKRAFT (feat. MARK LANEGAN) and LOWRIDER to release new records on the curated subscription series PostWax in 2019

Ultra-exclusive project offers boundary-pushing one-offs from hand-picked heavy/stoner/doom/psych notables; Kickstarter campaign under way now

This week, Blues Funeral Recordings launched a Kickstarter for their groundbreaking new vinyl subscription project PostWax, a series of limited edition records with jaw-dropping artwork and next-level design for fans of stoner/doom/heavy/psych metal.

Smashing their initial goal within 36 hours of going live, the Kickstarter continues until December 9th.

Before joining Magnetic Eye Records in 2016, original MeteorCity founder Jadd Shickler was already contemplating a return to the music industry.

MeteorCity had put out seminal releases from Nebula, Unida (with John Garcia of Kyuss), Spirit Caravan, The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, The Obsessed, Truckfighters, Lowrider and Solace, all under Shickler’s guidance.

After selling MeteorCity in 2008, he took a few years away from the business before the stoner/doom underground started calling to him again. But, in thinking about returning, he wanted to try something besides a traditional label model.

Envisioning what he’d want as a fan himself, Shickler conceived the idea of a curated series of records, one-off releases from an array of heavy/stoner/doom bands both notable and unknown, delivered exclusively as a subscription at regular intervals throughout the year.

The records would be crafted to appeal equally to both diehard fans of the style and dedicated collectors, with interconnecting cover art and groundbreaking design recalling archival comic book sleeves.

Two years later, and the idea has taken shape in the form of PostWax, now enveloped within new label Blues Funeral Recordings and pushed to ambitious heights with the addition of world-class creative Peder Bergstrand to the team.

In assembling the first year of PostWax releases, the goal was to pull together a dizzying cross-section of phenomenal recognizable bands and impressive newcomers, such that subscribers could reliably sit back and wait, confident that everything coming their way throughout the year would hit that sonic sweet spot.

PostWax year one will include exclusive new releases from Brooklyn metalgazers SPOTLIGHTS, apocalyptic doomsters DOMKRAFT with a guest appearance by MARK LANEGAN, and desert rock progenitors LOWRIDER, among others, with 7 records total set to land during 2019.

The series kicks off in February with all-new music from ELDER.

For their release, Elder made a stop in the midst of a European tour last month, entering a Berlin studio for three days of focused jamming to channel the mid-tour high. Their goal was to explore a different side of the band through a change of scenery, with lots of psychedelic ideas flowing and no experiment too weird to try. The result is something very different than the band has ever done, a perfect way to launch something as unique as PostWax.

Notably, the PostWax project also has a humanitarian component, with a portion of profits being donated to support youth music education. From the Kickstarter description:

“In an era when music and arts programs are being increasingly eliminated by school budget cuts and kids are learning about music from Kidzbop and Tik Tok, we want to help make sure kids still have the chance to learn how to play and write real rock music on real instruments.

With that in mind, a chunk of the profits generated by PostWax will be donated to support youth music education programs. There’s nothing extra you need to spend or do, just know that part of the cost of your subscription will go toward this important cause that we really believe in.”

The Kickstarter for PostWax can be found here, with plenty of details about the project to outline what subscribers can expect.

Multi-payment subscription options are also being offered via the label at bluesfuneral.com/, and more details will be revealed in the coming days.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluesfuneral/postwax-a-curated-heavy-music-vinyl-subscription-s
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
bluesfuneral.com

Tags: , , , , , ,

Psycho Smokeout Set for April 20 in Los Angeles; Elder, Monolord, Amenra, Belzebong and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho smokeout 2019

With the advent of the Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles next April 20, Psycho Entertainment partners with RidingEasy Records and enters the fray of a busy Spring festival season, pushing Elder and Monolord into headliner positions that both deserve and importing other Psycho veterans like Amenra and Belzebong alongside RidingEasy groups Here Lies Man, Electric Citizen, BlackWater HolyLight, R.I.P. and Zig Zags. If you don’t see the significance of this, think of all the fests happening in Europe at the time, whether it’s Roadburn just one week before or Desertfest the first weekend of May. Lineup-wise, the first-ever Psycho Smokeout would seem to be more in line with the latter than the former, but still, it’s a packed Spring for those up for a bit of intercontinental travel.

However, a killer lineup is a killer lineup, and the Psycho Smokeout has one. Looks like it’ll just be the one day — fortunate that April 20 is a Saturday in 2019 — and I’ll assume it’s two stages, though I don’t have confirmation of that or really anything other than the groups playing, which, frankly, is enough for the moment. April’s a ways away, so there may be changes and whatnot, but especially if this takes off, it’s an important happening in the market and bound to turn heads.

RidingEasy‘s announcement and the lineup info follow:

psycho smokeout 2019 poster

The rumors are true! We’ve teamed up with Psycho Las Vegas For the first annual psycho smoke out on 4/20 in LOS ANGELES. We’ll be vending and loads of our bands are playing including but not limited to Monolord R.I.P. Electric Citizen Blackwater Holylight Here Lies Man Zig Zags and more!!!!

Tickets on sale https://psychosmokeout.eventbrite.com/.

RidingEasy Records & Psycho Entertainment present:
First Annual “Psycho Smokeout”
Saturday, April 20th, 2019
Catch One Riff Compound, Los Angeles

|| FULL LINEUP ||

MONOLORD . ELDER . AMENRA . BELZEBONG . DREADNOUGHT . UADA . GOYA . ELECTRIC CITIZEN . CHRCH . CLOAK . HERE LIES MAN . TOKE . RIP . ZIG ZAGS . HAUNT . CLOVEN . HOWLING GIANT . BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT

https://www.facebook.com/events/179272422957103/

https://www.vivapsycho.com/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/

Monolord, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Pool Party, 08.17.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

viva psycho

08.16.18 – 4:50AM – Friday morning – Hard Rock, hotel room

None of it makes any fucking sense. Not a lick of it. And it took me the better part of the day to realize that’s the idea. The whole point. What even is underground when you watch Bell Witch play by the side of a casino pool in a sweltering den of capitalist exploitation? What is real? Any of it? I don’t know. That’s the point. Psycho Las Vegas is taking the narrative of what the underground is and punching it in the face until it can’t be recognized anymore. The sheer spectacle of this event. The are-you-overwhelmed-yet-okay-good tilt. It’s so weird. It’s so weird.

psycho las vegas 2018 thursdayIt’s so weird.

But I don’t think you’re supposed to get it. It’s not about making sense in any kind of traditional way. Psycho Las Vegas, in the span of three very-clearly-well-funded years, has become the absolute destination heavy festival in the US. There are plenty of other metal fests that have been around longer and have unquestionable reputations, but for this particular branch of heavy, there’s nothing to match this. I don’t know how anything could.

This was the first day. The pool party. By the Paradise Pool. I apologize deeply to Haunt and Toke. I just didn’t make it in time. I wanted to see both. It just didn’t work out. I got myself situated in time to catch most of Fireball Ministry though, and here’s how it went from there:

Fireball Ministry

fireball ministry (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you gotta start a weekend of top-class heavy somewhere, it might as well be with top-class heavy. Fireball Ministry had bassist Helen Storer filling in for Scott Reeder alongside guitarist/vocalists Jim Rota and Emily Burton and drummer John Oreshnick, but there was no way in hell they weren’t going to rock either way. Ostensibly, they were here supporting their new album, late-2017’s Remember the Story (review here), but even more than that, they were here representing a sans-frills heavy rock spirit that has endured in spite of trend and generational swap. That is, Fireball Ministry were there when, and they’re here now, and they delivered a powerful set as only a group of no-bullshit, ace-songwriting, still-underrated-after-all-these-years veterans could hope to do. I hoped to run into Rota later to ask him if this was the first casino pool party he’d ever played — hey, Fireball Ministry‘s done a lot of shows, so you never know — but didn’t get the chance. Either way, they absolutely delivered, and while I was fairly gutted to miss the first two bands, if you need to get on board with a show already in progress, Fireball Ministry are more than ready to make their rock your rock. Oh and by the way, they rock.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Tough to be the odd band out on this bill, but Dengue Fever managed, and again, I was a little bit in wrapping my head around what was happening. Psycho returnees? Took it all in stride. Let’s assume they were the ones in the patched battle vests dancing to Dengue Fever‘s upbeat semi-punk/semi-funk surf groove. There’s a trick to being here, I think, and no, it’s not just drinking. I’ll grant that Las Vegas is among the worst places on earth to be sober — the town simply wasn’t built for humans to be lucid within its borders — but beyond that, the trick is to just go with it. Dengue Fever played two bands after the dirt-sludge of Toke and two bands before Bell Witch and Wolves in the Throne Room back to back. That was the whole vibe of today in a nutshell. If you sat back and thought about it, you were doing it wrong. It’s a party. It’s a weird party. So party, and be weird. Dengue Fever were more than just a vehicle for that spirit, of course, but in this context, but with the sax blaring and the bouncing rhythms, they seemed to embody this festival’s will to be whatever the hell it wants to be, whenever the hell it wants to be it. Truly Psycho.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Band of the day. One more record and Elder will be headlining shows like this. It’s a toss-up whose crowd was bigger, theirs or Wolves in the Throne Room‘s, but even so, their presence on stage, their command of their sweeping progressive heavy rock sound, and their drive to genuinely push the idea of ‘heavy’ to places it’s never been all speak to a band ready to be at the next level. Their 2017 album, Reflections of a Floating World (review here), and 2015’s landmark Lore (review here) were assuredly well known to the masses assembled, and even if it was the title-track of  2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) that got the biggest response, people were cheering during part transitions, let alone the standard round of applause between the songs. Elder are that kind of band, and their movements within tracks have only gotten more fluid and nuanced over time. The four-piece incarnation of the band had all the more depth of tone and sonic reach from guitarists Nick DiSalvo and Mike Risberg (the former also vocals, the latter also keys), while bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto offered swing and intricacy of play alike that just furthered the proggy impression Elder make at this point. They killed. I don’t know how else to say it. It was an utter pleasure to watch and they’ve become one of the best heavy rock live acts anywhere, period. If you missed them, sorry.

Bell Witch

Bell Witch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was sunny when Bell Witch started and by the time they were done, dusk had fallen and the moon was out. Felt about right. They had 80 minutes at their disposal, which would’ve been just enough time to play last year’s brilliant and mournful Mirror Reaper (review here), and sure enough, that single-song outing was basically what comprised their set, even if Erik Moggridge (aka Aerial Ruin) wasn’t around to add his clean parts to it. Bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond and drummer/organist/vocalist Jesse Shreibman had no problem carrying across the outright bludgeoning sensibility of their ultra-doom on their own, however, and with the inward-turned grieving process that is the material itself, Bell Witch nonetheless oozed forth a consuming mass of volume that, despite the outdoor setting, left little choice but to be swallowed whole by it. They’ve toured fairly heavily in support of Mirror Reaper since its arrival — I was fortunate enough to catch them playing it at Roadburn earlier this year as well — and there’s no denying the power of their performance. It’s a masterwork in every sense and deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

Wolves in the Throne Room

Wolves in the Throne Room (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The fog machines on full blast for the breezy desert night, incense consecrating the stage during the low-end volume-swell drone of their intro, and Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room actually managed to make the atmosphere of the pool party their own for the duration of their set. It was a raging, scorching performance, as they took hold on the heels of 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here) and blasted out an intensity that was as much about the ambience as it was the assault. The expanded five-piece lineup was fully charged and as guitarist/vocalist Nathan Weaver, whose brother, Aaron, handles drums in the studio while Trevor DeSchryver fills in live, led the band through an outright pummeling set that made itself even further distinguished from everything before it owing to its keys and synth elements and the manner in which it was able to turn from its most seething stretches to minimalist soundscaping seemingly on a dime. The crowd thinned out some by the end — I’ll admit I watched them finish out my hotel room window as well — but for every dragging-ass member of the audience like me, there were even more for whom the party was just getting started, and somehow, Wolves in the Throne Room fit that party as well as anyone else who played on the poolside bill.

It’s about six-thirty now. Need to shower. Need to sleep more. First band today at 12:30PM. Madness is the order of the weekend. Keep falling asleep while typing. Writing with my eyes closed. Still need to sort pictures. Busy busy busy.

Didn’t have enough coffee yesterday. Will work to rectify that soon enough. More pics after the jump though, so thanks for reading.

More later.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Elder Touring Europe this Fall with Ancestors; Playing Fests and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

elder

Progressive heavy rock forerunners Elder will be back on the road in Europe for Fall 2018, joined by Ancestors for a run through festivals that includes Doom vs. Stoner, Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium 2018, Into the Void and Keep it Low. Because, basically, if you’re throwing a heavy fest in 2018, you want Elder to play. The former-trio-now-four-piece affirmed their ascendance last year with Reflections of a Floating World (review here) and have barely come off tour since. To wit, after the stint with Ancestors? They have another European tour. It’s pretty much how it goes with them these days, and right on.

You’ll note they mention an impending announcement about new music. I know what it is and it’s awesome. It’s not public yet, but yeah, there’s something cool happening. Stay tuned.

They posted the following on the social medias:

Elder announce European tour

We’re back on the autobahn and beyond again this fall, sharing the first leg of our tour with the fantastic @ancestors (who have a killer new album out) Let us know below what show you’ll be at!

Also, we’ve got another exciting announcement regarding new music coming in the near future…

29.09. UK – Sheffield, O2 Academy, Doom vs. Stoner Festival*
30.09. UK – Glasgow, The Audio*
01.10. UK – Leeds, TBA*
02.10. UK – Manchester, The Rebellion*
03.10. UK – Coventry, The Phoenix*
04.10. UK – Bristol, The Fleece*
05.10. UK – London, Garage*
06.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke Festival*
07.10. I – Milan, Legend*
08.10. I – Bologna, Freak Out / Locomotive*
09.10. I – Rome, Evol*
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room*
11.10. CRO – Zagreb, Vintage Industrial Bar*
12.10. HUN – Budapest, Dürer Kert*
14.10. B – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest*
15.10. GER – Hannover, Chez Heinz*
16.10. GER – Berlin, S036*
17.10. GER – Dortmund, Junkyard*
18.10. F – Paris, Glazart*
19.10. NL – Leeurwarden, Neushoorn, Into the Void*
20.10. GER – Munich, Feierwerk, Keep It Low*
21.10. A – Vienna, Arena*

31.10. RUS – St Petersburg
01.11. RUS – Moscow
03.11. DK – Aalborg, Aalborg Metalfest
04.11. GER – Osnabrück, Bastard
05.11. GER – Karlsruhe, Stadtmitte
06.11. F – Poitiers, Le confort Moderne
07.11. E – Barcelona, Razzmatazz
08.11. E – Callosa De Segura (Alicante), Auditorium
09.11. E – Madrid, Nazca
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room
10.11. E – Bilbao, Santana 27
* with Ancestors

Artwork by @digitaldexter

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://stickman-records.com
http://armageddonshop.com

Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,