If Lo-Pan do anything at all, they keep busy. The Ohio-based fuzz frontrunners — do I need to call them the best American heavy rock band going right now again what I do well okay they’re the best American heavy rock band going — will partner with Capital City riffers Borracho for what I’ve no doubt will be a long weekender of bro downs and fuzz outs. Pennsylvania seems to be the lucky state playing host to most of these shows, but fear not, rest of the country, as I seriously doubt this’ll be the last time Lo-Pan and Borracho pair up. They’re like stoner rock Superfriends.
I wrote this press release, so here’s me quoting myself:
LO-PAN: Ohio Rockers Announce Tour Dates With Borracho
They’re the hardest working band in fuzz, and on July 18, Columbus, Ohio’s LO-PAN will continue their mission to obliterate eardrums nationwide. Late in 2012, the foursome took to stages across the land with High on Fire and Goatwhore, and in June, they joined forces with Torche and KENmode.
As they prepare to headline the Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 fest in Brooklyn on July 27 at The Acheron, LO-PAN be taking Washington D.C. up-and-coming heavy trio Borracho along for a few dates along the Eastern Seaboard. Both bands have new material in the works and will be showcasing material from forthcoming releases.
LO-PAN will share the stage not only with Borracho, but also with Philly riff-slingers Kingsnake, Pittsburgh metallers Sistered and Supervoid and Virginia-based Southern metallers King Giant.
LO-PAN AND BORRACHO ON TOUR: Jul 18, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA Howler’s w/ Borracho, Sistered, Supervoid Jul 19, 2013 Washington D.C. Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Borracho, Kingsnake, King Giant Jul 20, 2013 Stroudsburgh, PA The Sherman Theater w/ Borracho, Kingsnake Jul 21, 2013 York, PA The Depot w/ Borracho
Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan
Here’s a quick metaphor for how I feel about the city of Philadelphia. I was on my way down to Philly from my office, wanting to get to Union Transfer early to see High on Fire, Goatwhore, Primate and Lo-Pan. And I’m doing my usual not-there-yet stress thing. I’d never been to Union Transfer before, so what if there’s no parking anywhere, what if I can’t find it, what if I drive off the edge of a cliff — all that ultra-reasonable anxiety that sometimes is enough to keep me at home but generally accompanies me one way or another everywhere I go.
Parking space right outside the venue. Maybe 50 feet from the door. Street parking, free because it was after 6:30PM. Once more, Philly, your hospitality astonishes.
It was chilly waiting for the door to open, but I’d listened to enough NPR en route and the cold did me some good. My understanding is UnionTransfer is a relatively recent advent, show-wise, and if it was actually a train station at one point, it makes a decent club. The room was sizable and the stage can be moved either forward or back to allow for more space on the floor. It was pretty far up. Apparently advance sales for the Thursday night show weren’t great, so the balcony was also closed, which was a bummer because that’s probably where I’d have been otherwise.
I grabbed a beer early (it would be my only one of the night) and waited about an hour for Lo-Pan to go on, sitting at one of the side tables killing time to the best of my ability. Gradually I made my way toward the floor and then up front. Though the room wasn’t nearly as full as it would be later, there were already a bunch of people there and I figured better safe than taking pictures of the back of some dude’s head.
Of the four bands on the bill, I really only had more than nominal interest in two: Lo-Pan and High on Fire, the bookends on the bill. That said, I hardly suffered through either Primate or Goatwhore‘s sets. It went down like so:
I was especially looking forward to seeing Lo-Pan on this tour, it being the hardworking Columbus, Ohio, natives’ biggest yet. They lined up toward the front of the stage, all in a row, from bassist Scott Thompson on down through drummer Jesse Bartz, vocalist Jeff Martin and guitarist Brian Fristoe. Martin, who’s usually in the back while Bartz is out front — at least that’s how it’s been at every Lo-Pan show I’ve seen and I don’t mind saying I’ve seen a few at this point — was up there with everyone else and held his position well, projecting his powerful, soulful voice upward into the mic in front of him. Pipes for days. They played “Colossus” and “Eastern Seas,” the two new songs they had included in their set at the Small Stone Records showcase in Boston at the start of the month (review here), and though the one right after the other threw me for a bit, the driving “Chichen Itza” from Salvadorwas a highlight and “Dragline” from 2009’s Sasquanautwas something of a surprise. They intended to close with it but were granted some extra time and made the most of it with one more song. It wasn’t the most comfortable I’ve ever seen them, but as the openers, I imagine they’ve made a positive first impression on a lot of heads throughout this tour. They were more than worth showing up early for, and I hope they continue to tour at this level, because they’ve proven that they’re more than ready to carry the flag for heavy rock to a wider audience that won’t know what hit it.
Seems like the appeal of Atlanta-based grinders Primate was rooted in the fact that the band features Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp and Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher in the lineup. For a more Philly-specific angle, second guitarist Mike Brennan once slung for Philly dirt thrashers Javelina. Whatever the status of that band, his contributions to Primate were in line with the band’s general modus: Play fast, be angry. The barefoot Sharp has nothing to prove as a frontman, and his vocals remained consistently intense throughout the tightly-delivered set. Likewise, Kelliher‘s resume doesn’t exactly need padding at this point either. He made playing fast look like playing slow, hardly breaking a sweat as they went on. A straight-up hardcore punk persisted, and Primate only confirmed their intent with a cover of Black Flag‘s “Rise Above,” which the young dude standing next to me went — pun most definitely intended — apeshit for. He was not alone by any means. Theirs was a different kind of heavy from what I’m used to seeing, but hell man, I’ve done my time with extremity of sound and I can get down with that if need be. Their stuff was pummeling and precise in kind, and when that’s the case, even if it’s not what I’m interested in hearing on a given night, I have a hard time not appreciating it on its own level.
I’d have to go back and check the archives to be sure, but I think Goatwhore might be the fastest band I’ve ever taken pictures of. Maybe that’s not saying much, considering the context, but still, it was a new experience for me. It’s been more than half a decade since I even really vaguely paid attention to what they had going on, but it didn’t seem at Union Transfer that I’d missed all that much. Frontman Ben Falgoust still had his strangely effective hand gestures and every time I looked at guitarist Sammy Duet, I still just thought to myself, “Wow, he’s the dude from Acid Bath.” So it went. They were pro, though, and made the fine line between metal and capital-h Heavy seem much thicker than it has at other times. Duet spit on the stage at one point and I caught some ricochet, but other than that, it wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest. Despite all the time that’s passed since I heard one of their records, I recognized the breakdown in “Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult,” and that was as much landmark as I really needed. The crowd I guess wasn’t as into it as Falgoust was hoping for, since at one point he reminded from the stage that, “It’s cool to like metal again.” I didn’t know it was ever cool to like metal. Someone better tell Shakira to get on that shit, lest she lose her pop relevance. Either way, when they were done, they broke down their own gear, and for a band who’ve been around as long as they have and toured as much as they have, I found that admirable.
High on Fire
Near as I can tell from the small sample I’ve seen, here’s the difference between watching Matt Pike sober now and Matt Pike not at all sober before: Earlier in his career, he came out on stage like he was swinging a double-sided battle axe and conquered the stage, claiming the heads of any and all who opposed him as though anyone would be foolish enough to attempt such a thing. He was a shirtless madman. That’s enjoyable but hardly sustainable for a career. Now when Matt Pike comes out on stage, it’s not even a question whose stage it is. The battle axe need not apply. He just owns it. That’s not to say High on Fire were in any way lacking their trademark sonic fury, just that it had direction, knew where it was headed and the band — Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensell — were smarter with the tools of their trade. They fucking killed. Most of the set came from this year’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), set opener “Serums of Laio” even more riotous on stage than it is starting off the record. “Last” and especially “10,000 Years” from the recently-reissued The Art of Self-Defense were highlights, and the moments of slower groove on “DII” or “Madness of an Architect” came as welcome changes of pace from the ripping likes of “Spiritual Rites,” “Fury Whip” or “Devilution.” High on Fire have a catalog of five strong albums to draw from — “Speedwolf” represented 2002’s Surrounded by Thieves — but it was the title-track to 2010’s Snakes for the Divinethat did the closing duties, and with its grandiose lead work, it seemed suited to the task. By then I’d long since moved to the back of Union Transfer to extricate myself from the violence up front, but wherever you were, there was no getting away from the fact that High on Fire have pushed themselves forward and that watching them now, there’s no doubt who the headliners are. Pike was more subdued in his stage persona, as one would have to expect, but he still played to the crowd, as did Matz, and Kensell was so buried in his kit you could only really see the top of his head, so if High on Fire have a rock star aura about them, it’s certainly one cast in their own image. However derailed they may have seemed or whatever hit their momentum may have taken earlier this year by their ducking out on the commercial exposure Mayhem fest would’ve brought, they’re back rolling hard and they seem clear-headed and ready for whatever could be coming their way. The stage looked small around them.
I’d taken Friday off from work, but a drive to Boston awaited in the morning and I had a two-hour trip home to my humble river valley, so I was out of there pretty quick once the house lights came on. Of course, it was Philly, so I had no trouble getting to where I was going, hit no traffic and made it home in record time. God damn I love that city.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2012 by JJ Koczan
Heartfelt congratulations, kudos and generic cop compliments to Ohio foursome Lo-Pan, who will tour all over the frickin’ place with High onFire and Goatwhorestarting Nov. 15. I can’t think of a band of their fuzzy ilk who’ve earned it more with the touring they’ve done and the fantastic records they’ve released, so well done, gentleman. Way to make all that hard work start to pay off. Now go do a bunch more hard work. Ha.
Kind of a wild bill, but heavy is heavy and I’ve no doubt Lo-Pan will make a lot of new friends on the road. Once again, congrats.
Here’s the news from High on Fire‘s point of view:
HIGH ON FIRE Announces North American Headlining Tour
California Power Trio to Storm Stages Across the Continent this Fall!
Oakland, CA heavy metal juggernaut HIGH ON FIRE has announced a full North American tour in support of its new album De Vermis Mysteriis. The eagerly anticipated run — the band’s first since the release of the new LP — will kick off on November 15 in Austin, TX and is slated to run through December 22 in San Francisco, CA. Support on the HIGH ON FIRE headlining tour will come from Goatwhore and Lo Pan with special guests Primate (featuring Mastodon‘s Bill Kelliher and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth) joining the trek from November 23 to December 1 and Corrosion of Conformity hopping on the caravan from December 18-21. Simply put, HIGH ON FIRE will hit the road with all guns blazing for what will undoubtedly be one of 2012’s best heavy music tours!
On December 20 at the Mayan in Los Angeles, HIGH ON FIRE will headline a special “Power of the Riff” show that will also feature COC and SunnO)))). For more details, visit this location.
HIGH ON FIRE fall North American tour: (all dates include Goatwhore & Lo Pan) (Nov. 23 – Dec. 1 also includes Primate) (December 18-21 also includes COC) November 15 Austin, TX Emo’s November 16 San Antonio, TX Korova November 17 Dallas, TX Tree’s November 19 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks November 20 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall November 21 Savannah, GA Jinx November 23 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel November 24 Boston, MA Sinclair November 26 Toronto, ON Opera House November 27 Montreal, QC La Tulipe November 28 Portland, ME Port City Music Hall November 29 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer November 30 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom December 1 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg December 3 Buffalo, NY Mohawk December 4 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop December 5 Columbus, OH Ace Of Clubs December 6 St. Louis, MO Firebird December 7 Chicago, IL Double Door December 8 Minneapolis, MN Turf Club December 9 Madison, WI High Noon December 10 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room December 11 Denver, CO Bluebird December 13 Boise, ID Neurolux December 14 Seattle, WA Neumos December 15 Portland, OR Dante’s December 16 Vancouver, BC Venue December 18 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst December 19 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick December 20 Los Angeles, CA Mayan (* Power of the Riff w/ COC, Sunn O))) ) December 21 Santa Ana, CA Observatory December 22 San Francisco, CA Slims