Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that even though they already spent nine days in a van with me earlier this year, Kings Destroy have been kind and charitable enough to invite me back along with them as they rejoin Pentagram and Radio Moscow for a Midwest/East Coast tour to follow-up on the West Coast dates this past spring. Coming along this time will be reunited proto-metallers Bang, and I’m all the more thrilled and honored to have been invited back by the KD guys for this second round with their participation.
Once again I’ll get to see places I’ve never seen, meet people I’ve spoken to for years, and watch killer bands night after night as they refine what they do in the best way possible. I can’t wait to get back out and see cities like Chicago and Minneapolis for the first time. It’s going to be incredible. Of course, I’ll have my laptop and my camera along for the trip, and I will update and review as the trip plays out.
Radio Moscow gave the dates. They’ll do the whole tour save for the NYC show at the Gramercy Theater, for which Blood Ceremony will fill in. The full run is as follows:
USA DATES supporting PENTAGRAM this October! Also joining us are legendary 70′s proto-metal hard rockers BANG and Kings Destroy! So stoked to be part of this amazing tour. Dates below. See you soon!
10/23/14 Chicago IL @ Reggie’s 10/24/14 Minneapolis MN @ Mill City Nights 10/25/14 Grand Rapids MI @ Pyramid Scheme 10/27/14 Cleveland OH @ House of Blues 10/28/14 Pittsburgh PA @ Mr Smalls Theater 10/29/14 Baltimore MD @ Soundstage 10/30/14 Philadelphia PA @ Johnny Brendas 11/01/14 New York NY @ Gramercy Theater* 11/02/14 Providence RI @ The Met
Because I very, very rarely do this kind of thing involving someone else’s work, let me specifically point out I DID NOT TAKE THESE PICTURES. I was not fortunate enough to be at this fest, and even if I had been at Freak Valley in Netphen, Germany, May 29-31, I’m not this good. All the photos in this gallery were by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen, who serves as the festival’s in-house photographer. I don’t even know how many images he sent me, but I’ve gone through and picked out a few from what you can see above was a packed schedule, starting with the headliners and then working by day from there.
If you’re the type who usually does the clicky-makey-biggy thing with the pictures around here, you might notice it doesn’t work on this post. Truth be told, it took me a very long time to get all the photos here to load, and with so many pics, it crashed the site more than once in the making. Resizing the images was the only way I could get it all to fit. I apologize for any inconvenience making it work may have caused.
Still, it’s only through the generosity of Mr. Bernshausen that I’m able to do this, and I thank him profusely for sharing his work. Please note there were more bands he shot than appear, and please also visit his website here, and check out the Freak Valley page as well.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Since I’ve spent the last two months-plus with these songs stuck in my head, it seems only fair to mark the release date of Radio Moscow‘s new album, Magical Dirt(review here), on Alive Naturalsound. The band just wrapped one European tour and are shortly to announce another, and with Magical Dirt, they’ve given themselves a worthy cause to support, tracks pushing their furthest yet into psychedelic blues topped off by the stellar-as-ever guitar work of frontman Parker Griggs, who’s joined by the dizzying rhythm section of bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone.
Getting to see these dudes seven nights in a row earlier this year was a treat. Here’s what they had to say about the end of their European run and some words from the label on the album:
RADIO MOSCOW ‘Magical Dirt’ out today on Vinyl, CD & DIGITAL
Our month long European tour has come to an end. We had an amazing time playing in the countries we visited and meeting a lot of new friends along the way. Stay tuned for another short European tour announcement which is taking place in the end of July. By the way our album comes out today officially! Cheers!
Says Alive Naturalsound:
Trends come and go, but the idea of a bunch of guys getting together in a garage and playing the kind of music that makes the neighbors call the cops — that’s forever. And it’s that idea that’s crystallized in the form of Radio Moscow. The power trio led by the Stratocaster genius Parker Griggs have found THE formula : powerful, crunching Sabbathstyle chords and fiery solos that earn the right to be called Hendrixian and plants its flag firmly in the territory where psychedelic rock and cranked-up blues meet. Parker’s demo caught the ear of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produced the 2007 self-titled debut. With « Brain Cycles », their second album Radio Moscow proves that they’re not a cheap time machine but a direct descendant from the golden age of Rock’n’Roll. In 2011, Griggs continued his psychedelic trip with « The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz ». Now in 2014 the band has released the 4th studio album “Magical Dirt” with high goals of sending you on another trip into heavy psychedelic headphone heaven.
Posted in Reviews on May 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Since the release of their self-titled debut in 2007, Radio Moscow have specialized in tight-knit heavy psychedelic blues rock, topped off with the barnburner fretwork of guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs. In drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia) and bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti), Griggs has a rhythm section not only able to stand up to his own playing, but to meet it head on, and their fifth album for Alive Records, Magical Dirt, is all the stronger for it. Radio Moscow‘s last proper studio outing was 2011′s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz, and it’s always tricky to figure which of the instruments Griggs is handling himself on a given release — he seemed to play everything on 2012′s previously-lost-tracks LP 3 &3 Quarters, originally recorded in 2003 — but the dynamic that Radio Moscow brings to their stage performance is present throughout Magical Dirt‘s 10 tracks and 42 minutes, and they not only live up to the form and intent of their past work in capturing a rush of heavy ’70s swagger and swing, but they push deeper into the command of the elements at work in their sound. Take the second-to-last track, “Before it Burns.” Right around two minutes in, the song shifts gears almost immediately from winding riffs and fleet shuffle into an airy psych jam that stands out maybe most of all for how much on an initial listen you might not even notice it until you’re already halfway through. The reason that’s the case is because Radio Moscow are completely in control of the material by that point in the album, and able to take and put the listener precisely where they want them to be. Eastern scales and percussion that come seemingly out of nowhere would be out of place on so many other records, but on Magical Dirt, pretty much whatever Radio Moscow decide to fit, they fit.
Chiefly, what they fit into these songs is a whole lot of volatility. At any moment, songs like opener “So Alone,” or “These Days,” “Got the Time” or “Rancho Tehama Airport” sound like they could completely come apart, like when you shake the bolts loose on a piece of machinery and the whole thing collapses into a pile of parts, but even at their fastest, Radio Moscow retain control, and while the whole of Magical Dirtretains an organic, live-feeling production, it’s also got clarity enough to showcase just how precise the band is in pulling it all off. Hooks are in steady supply, whether it’s the chorus of the mostly acoustic “Sweet L’il Thing” or the maddeningly catchy instrumental bounce of “Death of a Queen,” which ends playfully following channel-panning leads from Griggs without letting go of the reins. That’s to say nothing of the songwriting at play in side B’s “Gypsy Fast Woman,” which boasts a funkier groove and more blazing solos on top of subtle bass fills and enviable snare work en route to one of Magical Dirt‘s most infectious refrains. “Bridges” is the longest cut at 5:19 and starts the album’s second half with a pullback on tempo compared to the rush of “These Days” before it — a winding section of guitar, bass and drums also seems to recall “Death of a Queen” — but the wealth of wah provides continuity between sides A and B of Magical Dirtand by the time “Bridges” breaks to an acoustic-led blues jam topped with an electric lead in its own second half, you’re either on board for the ride or you’re not going to be. Fortunately, the earlier one-two blues of “So Alone” and boogie in “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which was also released as a pre-album single, also give a clear indication of some of Radio Moscow‘s lysergic tendencies, and by then, the flow is well established. They continue into the layered groove of “Gypsy Fast Woman” without so much as a hiccup for the sidestep in approach.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
It was getting on two in the morning last night and I was yet again trying to figure out how to get the audio editing software I use to make podcasts to work on this laptop. Numerous failed downloads later, I decided screw it, I had nothing to lose, and I zipped up the directory containing the program on my old computer, WeTransfered it to myself, and unzipped it on the newer machine. Frickin’ worked. I couldn’t believe it. Proof that sometimes the stupidest solution of all is the way to go.
This is the first new podcast in a long time, I know. There’s been a lot of really cool stuff coming out in the last few months, but I wanted to still keep it as recent as possible. Some of this is out now and has been for a couple weeks, some of it isn’t out yet. I think it’s a good mix or I wouldn’t have uploaded it, and it gets pretty heavy for a while there, so watch yourself. Figured a good couple of rockers to open wouldn’t meet any complaints either, and hopefully that’s the case. Please enjoy.
Fu Manchu, “Radio Source Sagittarius” from Gigantoid (2014)
Radio Moscow, “Death of a Queen” from Magical Dirt (2014)
Abramis Brama, “Blåa Toner” from Enkel Biljett (2014)
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, “Spoonful” from Through the Dark Matter (2014)
Boris, “Heavy Rain” from Noise (2014)
Eyehategod, “Robitussin and Rejection” from Eyehategod (2014)
Serpentine Path, “House of Worship” from Emanations (2014)
Triptykon, “Boleskine House” from Melana Chasmata (2014)
Wovenhand, “Field of Hedon” from Refractory Obdurate (2014)
Been Obscene, “Memories of Salvation” from Unplugged (2014)
1000mods, “Reverb of the New World” from Vultures (2014)
Electric Citizen, “Light Years Beyond” from Ghost of Me b/w Light Years Beyond (2014)
Mars Red Sky, “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia (2014)
Salem’s Pot, “Creep Purple” from Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien (2014)
Black Bombaim, “Arabia” from Far Out (2014)
Dopelord, “Pass the Bong” from Black Arts, Riff Worship and Weed Cult (2014)
Holly Hunt, “Prometheus” from Prometheus (2014)
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you were to ask me what my biggest regret was about watching Radio Moscow play each night on a seven-show run, my immediate response would be, “What the fuck are you talking about?” The San Diego trio killed it every single night on that tour, and I’m glad to see they’ve posted the track “Death of a Queen” from the forthcoming Alive Naturalsound LP, Magical Dirt, because now I feel like I have a chance to exorcise its catchy bounce from out of my head. Yeah, good luck.
They’re heading to Europe next month and it looks like they’ll be staying a while. Magical Dirtis out in June.
NEW SINGLE “Death of A Queen” by Radio Moscow now available to listen below!
New album “Magical Dirt” out June 17. Presale link and date coming soon.
Come dig some MAGICAL DIRT!
Europe tour starts next month! New shows just announced in Italy and Sweden! Check the dates below to see if we are coming near you.
APRIL : 15/04/14 : Turkey / Ankara @ Hayal Kahvesi 16/04/14 : Turkey / Izmir @ Hayal Kahvesi Performance 17/04/14 : Turkey / Istanbul @ Hayal Kahvesi Beyoglu 19/04/14 : France / Lyon @ Stone Rising Festival 20/04/14 : Germany / Mannheim @ 7er Club 21/04/14 : Germany / Dresden @ Groovestation 23/04/14 : Austria / Vienna @ Arena 24/04/14 : Germany / Munich @ Feierwerk 25/04/14 : Switzerland / Pratteln @ Pratteln 26/04/14 : Germany / Berlin @ Desertfest 27/04/14 : UK / London @ Desertfest
MAY : 15/05/14 : France / Hossegor @ L’escargot 16/05/14 : France / Bordeaux @ Bootleg 17/05/14 : France / Angouleme @ La Nef 20/05/14 : France / Montpellier @ Secret Place 21/05/14 : Spain / Barcelona @ Sala Appolo 22/05/14 : Spain / Madrid @ Shoko Club 23/05/14 : Spain / Bilbao @ Cafe Antzokia 24/05/14 : Spain / San Sebastian @ Sala Bukowski 28/05/14 : Belgium / Brussels @ Vk 29/05/14 : Germany / Siegen @ Freak Valley Festival 30/05/14 : Netherlands / Vlissingen @ De Piek 31/05/14 : Netherlands / Amsterdamn @ Winston
JUNE: 04/06/14 : France / Paris @ Glazart 06/06/14 : Danmark / Copenhagen @ Loppen 07/06/14 : Sweden / Gottborg @ Truckstop Alaska 12/06/14 : Italy / Roma @ Init 13/06/14 : Italy / Siena @ L’ars Festival 14/06/14 : Italy / Mentova @ Rocka ‘n’ Roll Festival
03.02.14 — 6:54AM Eastern — Sunday morning — Detroit Metro Airport
“Aw, seriously? We blew it…” — Rob Sefcik
Though I think I already made it obvious in my last post, I’ll put it out there straight away that my head wasn’t in this one from the beginning. My thoughts were elsewhere — getting to the airport, though that plan materialized pretty well and before the show actually started — getting back to New York, driving north, finding a time when I might be able to sleep, seeing my wife, eating a meal, and so on. I guess if I was actually playing the show, that might’ve been an issue.
As it was, I decided to give myself something of a break for the closing night of Kings Destroy‘s tour with Pentagram and Radio Moscow, and when it came to the start of the show at In the Venue – a mid-sized space cleverly named — I was an odd combination of stressed about the impending travel and relaxed about the show itself. I already knew I wouldn’t be seeing all of Pentagram‘s set, and basically I said to myself that I’d already had six gigs’ worth of photos of these bands, and that it was okay to take it easy for the last night of the run.
Seems to have worked out, at least as regards my general well-being. Local support tonight — though by now it’s really “last night,” I just haven’t slept — was from Merlin‘s Beard:
I couldn’t tell you the last show I was at where there was a genuine circle pit. It’s been a while. But punk-stoner-thrashers Merlin’s Beard seemed to arrive ingratiated to the early-arriving local SLC contingent, and all of a sudden, there were kids in hightops and denim vests skipping in circles like something from a demented nursery rhyme. Can’t stop the children. I didn’t see their whole set, but Merlin’s Beard seemed to have it together in playing on the hesher-metal thing, which has been in full bloom all along on this trip, but they made their blend with earlier-hardcore punk work smartly and offered a raucous start to a night that, once it got going, had a party atmosphere as only the end of a tour can.
They were rushed from the very beginning. When Kings Destroy (plus Jim Pitts and I) arrived at In the Venue, Merlin’s Beard were already set up on stage. Since the band couldn’t very well tell them to get off so they could backline their gear, the switchover happened afterwards, and since Pentagram were also using said gear, basically two bands had to soundcheck before Kings Destroy could start their set. The sound guy told them, “You’ve got 22 minutes,” right before they started, but if they were rushed, the intensity suited both them and the occasion. I’m fairly certain they went past that 22-minute mark, but they still sprinted through their five song set, opening with “Dusty Mummy” before easing into “Embers,” which at this point sounds ready to record or at least close to it. Their adrenaline kicked in early, so when they shifted from “The Toe” to another new song, “Mr. O.,” the fact that it was the fastest thing I’ve ever heard from them seemed like a solid fit. A blazing riff, strong hook, and big ending, it’s probably the nearest thing to heavy rock I’ve seen them play, and that’s not at all a complaint. I wish I had gotten to see it more than once while on the road with them, but if it’s a Salt Lake City-only kind of memory, I’ll take it. They sounded like they could do another week or two touring easily.
If Radio Moscow were harried by nearly rolling their van in the bad weather between Denver and Salt Lake City — there was reportedly an accident on I-25 North outside of Denver that involved 104 cars, with which fortunately none of the three touring acts was involved — they didn’t show it on stage. They were dialed in and immediate, and it once again being an all-ages show, a younger crowd got way into it. That was the case all along, at all the shows, really, but in back, there was also a dude easily in his ’60s grooving on it, so maybe Radio Moscow have more of a cross-generational appeal than they get credit for. Or maybe they get credit for it and I just don’t pay attention. Either way, the point stands. I’m more than a little bummed I’ll have to wait until their new album Magical Dirt comes out in May to hear “Death of a Queen” again, but with “No Time,” “Open Your Eyes,” “Broke Down” and the rest in studio form to tide me over, chances are I’ll make it through. Still, what a track. It’s rightly gotten a great response at each show and In the Venue was no exception.
I said so after the Denver gig as well, but it’s worth repeating that in this incarnation of Pentagram, everybody was killing it. It wasn’t just Bobby Liebling and it wasn’t just Victor Griffin. They’re great, don’t get me wrong, and they handed the crowd its collective ass once again, but bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley offered stellar support in both sound and stage presence to their legendary counterparts, and once again Pentagram as a whole underscored both the timelessness of their classic material and the relevance of what they’re doing now. I might’ve liked to stay and see them finish out their set and thus the tour as a whole, but my head was going to explode if I didn’t get to the airport gate immediately, so when it was time to go after “When the Screams Come,” I offered no argument whatsoever. It was, indeed, time to go.
I’ve been falling asleep at the keyboard since I started typing, so I’ll try to be quick. The first of two flights to New York is over, from Salt Lake City to Detroit. This is a three-hour layover that started around 7AM and will go until 10:05AM when the next plane is allegedly going to take off. There’s enough snow on the tarmac outside that I’ve got my doubts. Still, until I hear otherwise, that’s what I’m going with.
We took off from SLC a little after one in the morning. The band had grabbed a bite to eat at one of the silly airport places but I abstained and sat with headphones on instead. Splashed some cold water on my face and felt like a new man. The airport wasn’t crowded, but the plane was. Full, in fact, and they kept the lights off just about the whole time. I wasn’t always awake, but I was never quite asleep. That’s about as good as I can usually do on an airplane. When we got in to Detroit, the KD guys almost immediately crashed out on the floor in various spots. There weren’t very many people around this little enclave of gates, though it’s gotten crowded since as Sunday has become its own entity rather than the weird extension of Saturday it is when you haven’t slept. I always had trouble deciding when the day actually switched until I learned broadcast days began at 6AM. That’s generally the measure I use these days, when I think of it or need to.
This will be the last of these posts, so I need to thank Kings Destroy — Steve Murphy, Rob Sefcik, Aaron Bumpus, Chris “C-Wolf” Skowronski and Carl Porcaro — for their incredible generosity in inviting me to embark on this tour with them. From Pacific Northwestern forests, to low Nevada desert, to the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, I saw things I’d never seen, met many, many excellent people along the way, and was treated night after night to what I knew was the best possible show I could be seeing at that moment. It was a thrill and a delight, not just to do these things, but to be fortunate enough to be able to do them with these people, whom I consider myself lucky to know and whose work continues to stun with its honesty, accomplishment and forward-minded defiance of genre and expectation. Whether it was in the sprinter impersonating Paul Stanley stage raps with the ultra-competent Jim Pitts at the wheel or standing in front of a surprisingly wide variety of stages to watch them nail their set night after night, rest assured, my best times out west were with Kings Destroy.
There were times where I asked myself what I was doing. I never got to tour in bands other than a weekender here and there, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m thankful to have had the chance while doing this, while writing. The fact about what I do is simple — no one outside a very small sphere cares — but as I look around me at the morning hustle at the airport in Detroit in a quality of light that has that Vaseline-lens haze due to lack of sleep, it’s that writing that got me here. I’ve spent some time recently wondering what the endgame is to all of this, this site, the music, where it’s going and what it leads to, but doesn’t it lead to things like this? Isn’t the opportunity to see new places with such wonderful, inspiring individuals the reward, even if it’s also the work? And isn’t the work, being able to do it, the reward too? I don’t always believe it is, but I do right now, and with that, I’m ready to get on the plane and go home. Soon.
Special thanks to The Patient Mrs. for supporting me through things that can sometimes seem completely nonsensical, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading.
02.29.14 — 12:30AM Mountain — Fri. night / Sat. morning — The van
“Altitude…” — Carl Porcaro
Completely different vibe from last night. There was some space between the bands and the crowd at Sister because of monitors out front, but Summit Music Hall was just another species of animal. Both, I suppose, are shooting for a certain kind of authenticity of experience. In the case of the Albuquerque club from last night, it’s a rawer kind of feel, more punk rock, right there, you were involved as it happened, very much the purity mindset that also comes into play with the vinyl resurgence over the last few years — analog or death; find us on Facebook — whereas tonight in Denver, it was more a previous generation’s professional, commercial-style rock venue.
Not taking sides one over the other. I’ve seen great shows in both kinds of rooms, and this one was the biggest of the tour. I was quoted a capacity of 1,100, which is a substantial amount of people. An all-ages show, I don’t think it was sold out, but it was plenty packed, and though the crowd was more withdrawn than last night’s — again, the kind of room was a big factor as well as the people who showed up — they got plenty wild for Pentagram, who continued a run of solid headlining gigs. The tour ends tomorrow. I’m sorry to see it over, but probably best I get back to real life at some point.
Show ran pretty early with doors at seven and the first band on at 8:45. Local rockers Space in Time got things started:
Space in Time
Pretty straightforward stuff. Classic-style, one guitar, bass, drums, vocals, with organ for a total five-piece who made their most lasting impression with closer “Cheating Death.” For some of their set, it seemed like the Denver natives hadn’t yet decided if they wanted to go full-on retro or if more modern heavy rock impulses might win out. Either way, their songs were well composed and though its presence in the mix depended in no small part on where you were actually standing on the floor, the organ made a big difference in their sound. This tour has seen some openers who are ready to go and some who’d benefit from more time on stage, more time hammering out their songwriting, and so on. Space in Time don’t fit neatly into either category, but for not knowing the band before the show, I wasn’t sorry to have seen them play.
“Embers” came third tonight and was the tightest yet. If I didn’t know it hadn’t been recorded, I’d probably just assume it was an album track from A Time of Hunting, and that would seem to be a good sign. Crazy build in that song, and very satisfying to hear it take shape on stage as it has. Kings Destroy opened tonight with “The Mountie” and went immediately into “The Toe,” which made for a riffy start that I think the audience took to. Not really a shock that the attendees at the Pentagram gig would like the doomy tracks, but though it was a half-hour set, Kings Destroy still fit a decent serving of their wares, pushing “Blood of Recompense,” which has been in my head all day, ahead of “Old Yeller” in the closing spot. They’ve got some genuine momentum in their performance at this point, and though there are different personalities to different shows, they’ve managed to build one onto the next in a manner I can only really describe as professional without slipping into hyperbole. The bigger stage suited them.
Well, okay. Here it is. Time to think of another way to say Radio Moscow kick ass. Maybe I’ll keep it simple and just note that, yes, they do, and tonight they did so extra gloriously on “I Just Don’t Know,” which provided a raucous opening to the set. Of the three bands in this writeup whom I’ve seen over the course of this week, they were probably the most affected by the distance between the stage and the crowd. I couldn’t help but think of Las Vegas and the group of kids up front who were practically on top of guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs as he tore into one or another solo. Not really possible when there’s a barrier between, though I still definitely got a spritz of beer from behind and above, so someone was rowdy enough. Radio Moscow have been insanely tight all along, so to say so seems redundant, but it was a different experience to watch them on the Summit Music Hall stage even than at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.
I continue to be fascinated by the obvious impact that the Last Days Here (review here) documentary that came out in 2012 has had on Pentagram‘s draw, and while there have been some on this trip who made clear by shouting various things at Bobby Liebling both before he got on stage and after, Denver was cool for the most part. Still, it’s a level of spectacle I hadn’t expected, and as someone who saw Pentagram before the movie came out, the difference is palpable. That’s a shame in a way, because with Victor Griffin on guitar, Greg Turley on bass and Sean Saley on drums, Pentagram — the full band — are as tight now if not tighter than I’ve ever seen them. A minor flub tonight at the start of “When the Screams Come” was barely there in a crisp set, and of course Liebling worked the crowd into the proverbial frenzy so that even with the barrier there were people spilling over each other. Griffin, Turley and Saley followed suit, and Pentagram were exciting to watch for so much more than just the (well told) narrative of their frontman.
Today was payday, so I bought a couple shirts. One from a brewpub across the street whose chicken caesar salad was the best thing I’ve eaten since I left home, and one from Pentagram. Tomorrow, again, is the final night of this tour, and yeah, I’ll miss it. It’ll be good to be home, to see The Patient Mrs. and the little dog Dio, but this has been a good time and something of a personal landmark, so you’ll have to please forgive the moment of sentiment. I’m sure there’s more to come.
There was a guy outside the venue (who may or may not have been former MTV VJ Jesse Camp) taking pictures on his smartphone for what he in his I’m-very-clearly-on-bad-drugs kind of way explained as a sort of art project. I had him send me one he took of me. I’ve never been especially photogenic (or charming, or intelligent, or socially capable, or competent; the fucking list just keeps going). This is the first picture of myself I’ve ever posted on this site and in most cases I’ll go out of my way to not get my picture taken, but it was just random enough. Carl damn near ran him over with one of the cabinets during loadout. “How’s that for a cool pic?” asked C-Wolf.
What that guy was doing with a smartphone or where that picture is actually headed, I have no idea. Maybe he makes fake IDs or some shit. Whatever. Hope they’re kinder to my likeness than I’ve been. Drink up, children. Your parents have been lying to you: Alcohol is delicious and it makes you a more interesting person.
Plan is to cover some ground of the 500-miles-plus trip to Salt Lake City tonight. Jim Pitts is at the wheel, though we’ve stopped to get a scraper now because there’s an ice storm and it’s building up on the windshield. We’ll go for hopefully a couple of hours if it’s not too bad and then crash out until — wait for it — 10AM. The idea seems so luxurious after the last three days that I fear writing in case I might jinx it.
“We’re gonna do another new one, while we’re here…” — Parker Griggs
Sister Bar in Albuquerque. Cool spot in that neo-metal/hesher kind of way. Bare brick walls would almost have to be original, hardwood floor not yet destroyed through years of abuse. Huge, sprawling bar, tall ceiling, good sound, seats for those in back who might want them, and a garage bay on the street side that provides an indoor/outdoor space. Art both all over the place and still in progress throughout the building. Reportedly there’s a bar upstairs too owned by the same people, but I didn’t get up there to see it. Still, what I saw, I dug.
The tour is well dug in at this point. All three of the road acts are on fire and though perhaps the windows of the Kings Destroy van would need fixing, the level of performance is such that it could just keep going. It won’t, of course. There are two shows left and then a flight back to New York — followed, in my case, by a drive home to Massachusetts — but that’s how it feels. I’ve seen bands many time deliver these kinds of performances mid-tour. That’s not really new for me. What is new is being able to see the narrative of a tour tightening up play out in real time. I’d hate to use the word “automatic” and have it come across that anyone in Pentagram, Kings Destroy or Radio Moscow is phoning it in, because that’s not the case. More like flicking a switch and coming to life, maybe.
Leeches of Lore opened tonight and they were a band I was very, very stoked to see. Here’s how the show ran:
Leeches of Lore
I’ve dug these Albuquerque-native weirdo heavy spazz rockers for a while and seeing them live was like watching peak-era Ween on a psych-thrash freakout. Fucking cool band, and not only did Leeches of Lore live up to the go-anywhere-anytime feel of their recordings, they surpassed it in presence and in the power of their delivery. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Hammond was given to screams in addition to pushing his voice into throaty falsetto shouts, and with two drummers, keys, and two added horns for set-finale “La Follia di Spazio,” Leeches of Lore even had Bobby Liebling of Pentagram out from backstage and fervently approving of their methods — the first time I’ve seen that happen all tour. There’s something so satisfying about seeing a band you’ve been into and having it live up to your hopes. Leeches of Lore surpassed mine, and drew a huge crowd of local supporters as well.
The key difference between last night in Vegas and tonight was when the band clicked. Cheyenne Saloon was the best Kings Destroy played yet, and it had left me wondering how they might top it, but what happened tonight was that there was no warming up necessary. They got on stage, plugged in, and hit it. Doubly impressive since it was “Embers,” the new song, in the opening spot with a relatively subdued feel compared to a more full-on track like “Casse-Tete” or “Blood of Recompense.” I noted that “Old Yeller” was faster tonight than last night in its intro, but still had all its heft intact. And as immediate as the band was, the response followed suit, with the assembled denim ‘n’ leather set making their way quickly over from the bar to partake. I heard no complaints as “The Toe” gave way to “Blood of Recompense,” the lead guitar line of which might as well be tattooed on my frontal cortex for all the likelihood of it ever giving up its position there.
Presumably if this tour was three weeks or a month long or something like that, at some point I’d run out of ways to nerd on Radio Moscow, but that’s not a concern as it is. The we-have-a-sixth-gear-and-it’s-called-awesome power trio changed things up a little tonight. No drum solo, though Paul Marrone put on a clinic in swing — no, not the HBO kind — all the same, and the set had a third new song to go with “Death of a Queen” and the boogie-heavy “Before it Burns.” It sounded, to be frank, like Radio Moscow, and by that I mean was peppered with wah-drenched lead guitar, deep, resonant low end to match, and the kind of blinding rhythmic turns that make you think the band is about to fall off the side of a cliff but of course they never actually do. As much as I’ve gotten to know their set these last few days, I’ve been glad to see them continue to deliver something different at each show. Their reputation for volatility is known far and wide, lineup changes, etc., and maybe that’s the cost of their kind of energy. All I know is they’ve been a consistently exciting band to watch and tonight was no exception.
A fight broke out pretty early into Pentagram‘s set up toward the front. A guy was drunk and hit a girl or something, there was yelling, something about bitch this, bitch that, and then half the place was on the dude and pounding hard. Like the left side of the room decided all at once to kick his ass. Generally that kind of unanimity doesn’t happen without some root cause, but when he finally got dragged out of there via chokehold, it seemed in his best interests. Meanwhile, Pentagram. They were a while in taking the stage, but incredibly well received as they have been for these shows upon their arrival. Victor Griffin and Greg Turley had their tones dialed in, drummer Sean Saley nailed his fills, and Bobby Liebling – despite what seemed to be a sore throat — delivered the gig that the crowd (minus one) had been expecting. They’ve done the same set each night, so no surprises necessarily, but I’ve very much enjoyed watching each city lose its mind when “Forever My Queen” starts. I’m pretty sure the shops on Central Ave. were being looted at the time, and for being a weeknight, the crowd were ready to throw down for Pentagram. A good cause if there ever was one.
Loadout happened as efficiently as one could ask considering we were basically doing so in the dark. We piled in the van and hightailed it down the street to the EconoLodge and the plan is to get back on the road by 8AM. It was about three when we got here, so I’m not sure how feasible that is, but five hours of sleep would be more than I had last night. Unfortunately, since I want to shower — and I do — I’ve already missed that mark and am currently counting down to a measly four, which is about what I’ve had for each of the last two evenings. That’ll show me for something or other.
Albuquerque seemed like a cool town. I would’ve liked to have time to explore more of it, but something tells me this won’t be my last visit to the American desert.
02.27.14 — 9:30AM Pacific — Thurs. morning — The desert outside of Las Vegas, NV
“Don’t put that in the writeup…” — Chris “C-Wolf” Skowronski
The city itself interests me far less, but I was intrigued to see the Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas because it’s where the annual Doom in June fest is held. It was a full day’s driving to get here, through suburbs and valley giving way to low and high and low desert, the final descent into Nevada and then Vegas itself seeming endless in the doing. Wasn’t a bad ride, all told. I took many pictures of the desert, which lived up to my expectation, and saw windmills and mountains that seemed to come out of nowhere and go back just as quickly, and Joshua trees, and empty space and bugs on the windshield and hillsides and the sun and whatever else.
It was dark by the time we hit Vegas, so of course the lights were going and all that. I’ve been to Las Vegas once before and did not much care for it. I think in order to have any kind of enjoyable experience in this town you probably need to be rich enough that money is no object, win or lose. That’s not my case, needless to say. Cheyenne Saloon itself is after the main strip, tucked away in the corner of a shopping plaza. Plenty of parking at least. I didn’t think much of the look of the room when we got there, but the sound was phenomenal and the show wound up with a cool intimate vibe, being the smallest spot on the tour so far.
Local openers Spiritual Shepherd were already set up on stage when we got there, though they’d break down again when Pentagram arrived, allowing the headliners the chance to soundcheck, but load-in was quick enough and before too long, Spiritual Shepherd got the five-band bill going:
Young, and solid, but still clearly getting their feet wet. An instrumental three-piece who seemed to have the most fun on stage when engaging in elephantine plod, Spiritual Shepherd were distinguished in no small part by their drummer, Ian Henneforth, who was quick to show off his chops and technical prowess amid the band’s stonerly riffs. They jammed out one song — most of their titles came from the stoner rock playbook; atomic-this and space-that; hard to keep track sometimes — that had a psychedelic edge and then went full-heft into a crusher, so there’s some level of diversity in what they were doing, they were just new to it. They’ll keep working and be fine. Hell, they already get to say they opened for Pentagram, so kudos.
It seemed a little unfair that Demon Lung vocalist Shanda was wearing an elaborate dress and the three dudes surrounding were in t-shirts and jeans. Shanda apologized for Demon Lung‘s missing guitarist, who apparently recently broke his collarbone and couldn’t make the show as a result and for herself too, citing caring for a sick puppy at home as having kept her up the last several nights. I thought she and the band both sounded pretty right on. Some of the material came across samey in the presentation,b but it’s doom. That’s what happens. It didn’t seem like a performance that needed an excuse or an explanation, in other words, but then, it was my first time seeing them. Maybe they absolutely destroy every other time they play, but they didn’t do so badly at Cheyenne Saloon.
Best show of the tour so far. No question. Kings Destroy seem to be approached with some measure of caution by these audiences, but as with each the other nights on this run, they did indeed win those people over. “I like a quiet room,” said vocalist Steve Murphy between songs. He must have been let down at the end when people were shouting their approval, then. Sorry dude. “The Whittler” was moved to open the set, “Embers” pushed up to second, where it worked well and sounded tight, and they closed out with an especially slow-seeming take on “Old Yeller,” with a grueling early going giving way to a raucous finale. Elsewhere, “The Toe” and “The Mountie” arrived as welcome standards in an assured, aggressive and viciously heavy half-hour-plus. San Francisco was cool, but a different vibe, very high stage. Though they were coming off of being robbed last night and still plenty aggro, the band somehow radiated a comfort level from the stage that seemed to be relatively at peace. Somehow.
Can’t help but notice that I’ve come out of each of these shows with a different favorite from Radio Moscow. Tonight it was “Mistreating Queen,” though the new ones, “Death of a Queen” (wonder if there’s any relation there) and “Before it Burns,” were expertly handled as well. A contingent of kids showed up for Radio Moscow who were way into it and seemed to have pregamed the show. Fair enough. Their rowdiness seemed to up the general energy level in the room, though the band weren’t having any trouble with that anyway. Drummer Paul Marrone took a solo with some contribution from bassist Anthony Meier that was a treat to watch and it seemed like every time Parker Griggs stomped on his wah, the room went apeshit. Hard not to see why.
This was the smallest night of the tour in room and attendance. Pentagram killed it through three sold-out gigs, but I wondered how their vibe might change at a gig like this one. They did well with it. Bobby Liebling said he was feeling under the weather, but with the crash and thud of drummer Sean Saley and the gigantic air-push from Victor Griffin and bassist Greg Turley behind him, the was plenty of space in the room mix for him to hang back. He drank tea on stage from a large cup that wound up in the back of Kings Destroy‘s van. I might try to take it home if I can fit it in my bag. No “20 Buck Spin,” but the set was tight in spite of whatever ailments might’ve been a factor, “All Your Sins” sticking in my head, though “Be Forewarned” once again was the high point. Someone needs to build a monument to that song.
Got out of the show around 2AM and found a casino/hotel offering $25 rooms. They were decent — I guess the place was just trying to get you in there to gamble. You even had to walk through the poorly-lit den of human misery to get to the hotel rooms, but somehow I magically resisted the temptation to sit down at the slots and blow my last $20 on nothing. I went up to the room and started to write but was falling asleep hard by 3AM and decided around four o’clock that I wasn’t doing myself any favors being awake with an 8AM start to come.
Crashed hard and woke up at 20-minute intervals thinking about the review half-written, so not sure how many favors I was doing myself anyway, but whatever. The current plan is to fix the window in Denver, so the 500 miles to Albuquerque will come with periodic bouts of fixing up the back one, with which the wind on the highway — and there is a bit of it — seems to have a time. It’s not really a consideration at this point except when it needs to be. The adjustment has been made, I guess. Seems like the band blew off some steam at the show and that kind of evened everybody out. Funny how that works.
Trip is 500 miles to Albuquerque or somewhere thereabouts. Can feel the wind shoving the van around its lane. Landscape is mountains baked in sun. Dry, gorgeous desert. I regret nothing.
02.26.14 – 2:46AM Pacific – Wed. morning – En route from SF
“You can never win…” – Bobby Liebling
Not sure what to say about tonight, really, but we’re on the move out of San Francisco and it’s getting late. The show was fantastic. Another sellout crowd, a killer venue, great sound, cool mood, everybody’s locked in and coming across excellent. I moved around a bit more rather than just sit tight up front, so got a couple different views and even snapped some shots from the side of the stage. We were rolling. Things were rolling along. When Pentagram were finished, I came out to the van to at least get the night’s photos onto my laptop and ready to post and found two of the passenger-side windows, the two in back, had been blown out.
At first it didn’t look like anything was gone, but of course stuff was. Some wasn’t touched, but iPads, Steve’s clothes, etc., got swiped, and Radio Moscow got hit as well, including for laptops and photo equipment. Shitter way to end what would’ve otherwise been an excellent night, though I say “end” and since we’re still driving and in need of a 24-hour glass repair person to fix the two windows which now have gaffer’s tape and poster board where the window used to be, the night’s not actually over yet. All the same, here’s the deal:
Somewhere between thrash and doom and more extreme metal, Oakland’s own Bedrücken are there, probably getting drunk. A double-guitar five-piece with a standalone vocalist, they were easily the most extreme band of the night, kind of a standout in that regard, but seemed to know the room and the people, who were starting to trickle in as the show got underway. West Coast sludge has a long history of sounding as thoroughly fucked as possible, and Bedrücken seemed well aware of the legacy they were upholding, but were well distinguished by vocalist Ami Lawless’ vicious rasp and periodic deviations into broodingly intense clean parts. The crusty contingent in the crowd – and there was one — ate it up.
“The Whittler,” from the first album, replaced the new song “Embers.” I was digging the way that one was coming along, but it had been a while since I heard the older cut, so no complaints. Things had clicked well in Portland and there was no step back in SF despite a hiccup in closer “Blood of Recompense.” For the most part in this band, these guys have all known each other for so long that their dynamic is well set, and I guess seeing it three shows in a row like this, that’s the primary standout impression, how natural they are on stage with each other. And Aaron Bumpus, who’s not just younger but also rooted differently in terms of his influences, fits well in sound and presence. I’ve been trying to think of what separates Kings Destroy from most doom — much as they’re a doom band at all — in how they handle the stage, and really it seems to be a question of attitude. Bedrücken were plenty angry, but Kings Destroy were confrontational, and that’s a big difference. They had started before I even realized it, and their set went quickly.
I’m not sure how one might mosh to Radio Moscow, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t see it happen tonight. Unless 21 got way younger looking when I wasn’t paying attention — possible — this was another all-ages show, and the younger contingent especially was all about Radio Moscow‘s psych-blues mastery. It’s a crazy lineup, the three touring acts, but I think no matter who was on the bill, Radio Moscow would likely distinguish themselves. Guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone were so snapped-in it was like you pressed play and then there they were, but they still have personality on stage as well. It’s not like they come across as going through the motions of their material. It’s been incredible to watch. Still dug “Death of a Queen” a lot, “Frustrating Sound” made a return, and while it was on their setlist for both prior shows, I’m fairly certain tonight was the first time they actually broke out “No Time” for a jammy runthrough, which had the kid in the flipped-up-brim D.R.I. hat out of his mind.
The song “8″ left an impression on 2011′s Last Rites (review here) as well, but live it seems to be all the more of a showcase for the richness in Victor Griffin‘s guitar tone. Pentagram, three shows into the tour, are killing it. Each night is better than the last. Bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley are fluid and energetic players, and of course with Griffin there as the instrumental anchor, Bobby Liebling is that much freer to gyrate his hips, make obscene hand gestures at the crowd, whatever it might be on any given night. That’s all well and good, but Liebling‘s vocals tonight on “Be Forewarned” might also have been the best I’ve ever heard him sound live, so there’s something to be said for settling into the tour. Of course, “Forever My Queen” was again a highlight, among “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” “When the Screams Come,” “Relentless” and closer “20 Buck Spin,” which I stuck around tonight to see. No regrets of course, unless that was when the van window got smashed, in which case, yeah, I probably should have split a little early. Not that I knew that at the time. Finding a little enclave in the back with a solid 18″ of personal space on as many sides as I wanted, I could’ve stayed there until 2AM and been fine. Didn’t come to that, however.
Even though I stayed to the very end of Pentagram‘s encore, I was still the first one back to the van. Two smashed windows, glass on the ground. Some stuff in the back looked untouched, so I thought maybe it was just vandalism, but no, when the Kings Destroy guys came out of the venue and down the block, they confirmed they had stuff missing. Glass was everywhere in the van, but we swept it, loaded out the gear, taped up the windows and hit the road. Not much choice in the matter. It’s 10 hours to Vegas. Gotta go. The staff at the DNA were cool and stuck around to help load-out.
Stopped for the night maybe 90 minutes outside of San Francisco, everyone bummed out, especially those who lost their stuff. The whole block had been hit, and apparently around the corner where Radio Moscow were stationed. A couple of kids I spoke to while I was waiting for the band to come out from the venue said they had camera equipment stolen, and so did Radio Moscow, and electronics stuff as well. Probably just people looking to make a buck, but still shitty for all involved. I’m telling you, if you’re going to steal, steal from corporations. No one even bothered to call the cops because they would’ve done nothing and nothing was insured. Police cars drove by on patrol the whole time I was outside — it was a while — and said and did nothing. Bigger fish to fry, I guess.
Tomorrow is Vegas. It’s after 4:30 in the morning and we need to be out of here at 9AM, so my watch is set for 8:01. If I’m ever going to sleep in the van, tomorrow seems like it might be the day. We’ll see how it works out.
02.24.14 — 12:07AM Pacific — Sun. night / Mon. morning — Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR
“Everybody gets a trophy at the Hawthorne Theatre…” – JJ Koczan
Oh, Portland. Portland, baby. 15′s my limit on schnitzengruben. You are making a German spectacle of yourself. It would be real easy to get spoiled living in this town. Quite a night. Quite a show. Pentagram had an amp blow out or something and the crowd was still going nuts. Pressed up against a metal railing at the front of the stage, I was reminded of younger days, a straight-line bruise along the bottom of the rib cage from being up front at silly shows. This was a young audience. They were into it. You kids and your doom.
Everything was a little more dead on tonight, as expected. Getting past the first show seems to have allowed for a certain amount of tension to abate. The three touring bands were tighter — no small feat after last night — and the local openers, Mothers Whiskey and Sons of Huns, both drew and performed well. Sold out show. Again, one could get spoiled.
I’ll try and make it quick again since it’s midnight and I’ve got actual job work to do:
Was talking with Mothers Whiskey guitarist/vocalist Greg Powers before the show and he mentioned he’s an East Coast guy, from Maryland. I don’t know that I would necessarily have picked it out in his approach had he not said it, but he had some of that post-Sixty Watt Shaman burl, though tempered obviously by the pervasive mellow of his current surroundings. Thus, Mothers Whiskey were a solid bicoastal blend, unpretentious and laid back, but still with an insistent undertone. Pretty clear they’re figuring out their sound, but their dynamic was solid, particularly on closer “Scorpion Moon Burn,” which carried that Southern heavy influence across smoothly.
Sons of Huns
The first band I’ve seen on this tour in which no single member had a full beard. Nonetheless, a local trio who’ve made a splash with their recent Banishment Ritualrelease, Sons of Huns were clearly known to the crowd. It was an all-ages show, and they skewed young, which never hurts, but they made their chops plain enough to see, guitarist Pete Hughes busting out solos that I read as an opening volley soon enough to be returned by Radio Moscow while sharing vocal duties with bassist Shoki Tanabe, who switched to a fretless about halfway through the set. Drummer Ryan Northrop was the anchor, but nothing was really holding Sons of Huns back as they gave the yet-unnamed post-Millennial generation a reason to relish Kyuss-style riffing.
Since I was in the van this afternoon with them, I know the literal miles Kings Destroy came for this show, but they do little justice to how many miles more comfortable they seemed on stage. Guitarists Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro were shoving and kicking, almost daring each other to fuck up, while bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik provided the foundation for their shenanigans and Steve Murphy turned his mic stand at one point into a harpoon and thrust it in the general direction of the crowd. They started a little early, so squeezed “Dusty Mummy” into a riff-heavy set that worked well after Sons of Huns, setting up a rock/doom back and forth that would continue into Radio Moscow and Pentagram. The vocals didn’t come across as clearly, but the new song, “Embers,” was tighter tonight as well.
Doesn’t matter how many nights this tour goes, I don’t imagine I’m going to get tired of watching Radio Moscow make killing it look so easy. Two new songs in the set tonight, “Death of a Queen” and another one, plus “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which is also pretty recent, and where last night dipped back to the self-titled for “Frustrating Sound,” and that was certainly welcome as far as I’m concerned, I am not in the slightest about to complain about getting to know a couple new cuts ahead of the arrival of their new album, Magical Dirt, which seems to be slated for a spring release. Whenever it comes, the twists and turns in “Death of a Queen” are sure to be a highlight, as they were both in Seattle and at the Hawthorne, where they were met with due appreciation and then some by the all-ages set, who had youthful vigor on their side, and the 21-and-overs, who were sloshed. Suddenly the show felt very sold out, very packed in. No arguments though.
Yeah, and then Pentagram went on. Even before they took the stage, the push of people toward the front was fairly ridiculous. Bobby Liebling got cheers even as he walked out from the green room on the side of the stage, standing on a balcony and pointing at the crowd, obviously thrilled to see him. The place went off. Set was the same as last night — my only complaint with it is no “Walk in Blue Light,” but you can’t have everything — opening with “Nightmare Gown” from Be Forewarned and going into “Review Your Choices” before letting loose with “Forever My Queen” after what seemed to be some technical difficulty and on from there. It was during the latter (they were inadvertently switched at El Corazon, come to think of it), that being up front became an untenable situation and I did what any self-respecting adult would do and fell backwards into the press to make my way through. At one point the strap of my bookbag with my laptop in it was hooked around some plastered girl’s arm who refused to give it up, but I was ready to pull her outside with me if necessary. Finally I shouted something about it actually being my bag and a light went on in her head and she let go. I was pretty well frazzled, but made my way to the back to watch more. True, it was the same deal as Seattle, but screw it. Every time you get to see Pentagram — with Victor Griffin on guitar especially — it’s the right way to go, though I’ll admit that when they got down to the encore of “Be Forewarned” into “Wartime,” I was listening from outside.
Loadout, well, didn’t go quite as smoothly as last night. There was a bit of waiting and when all the stuff was in the sprinter, it was established that we’d be hitting a bar called Chopsticks at the suggestion of some locals who were headed that way. Tomorrow is an off-day for the tour. Turns out the place was a Chinese restaurant in addition to a bar — they called it fast food but they were the best dumplings I’ve had since I moved out of New Jersey — and that the karaoke was going in full force. Chopsticks wasn’t as packed as the show, but it had a crowd, and they felt like dancing. It was 1:30AM by the time we got there and about 2:30AM by the time we left, and in between is a blur of irony-overload ’80s hits sung by an assortment pulled from the almost-entirely-white assemblage. One guy did “Aqualung,” and nailed it, but the rest was Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and the like.
Many laughs, many drinks, some dim sum, and no one was quite as sloppy as they semi-apologized for being. I think on some level it’s weird for these dudes that I’m here and that I’m writing as I’m here, like an embed. I know they’ve seen some of what’s been posted, and it’s not that they’re being guarded — at one point tonight I rechristened the band “Kings Destroyed,” so if there were guards, they went on break and didn’t come back — but my concern is not harshing anyone’s good time by making them feel like they’re being watched.
Anyway. There was talk of a James Brown hot tub party when we got back to the motel by the airport where we’re staying, but it was to bed almost immediately. Steve gets his own room, Carl and I share (even at his worst so far, which might be right now, he’s nowhere near the worst snorer with whom I’ve shared a hotel room), Rob and Aaron, and C-Wolf and Jim Pitts. We’re all in a row on the 200 level of the Clarion with a noon checkout tomorrow and a drive to San Francisco to follow. It’s now four in the morning. Something tells me we won’t be getting an early start.
02.23.14 — 12:47AM Pacific — Sat. Night — El Corazon, Seattle, WA
“High drama…” — Steve Murphy
I’m going to try to make this quick, because my laptop clock says 3:47AM and I can’t help but feel like that’s accurate. Tonight at El Corazon in Seattle. First night of the tour. Weather as advertised. Volume as advertised. Doom of many shapes. Place filled up as the night went on. A special cheers to the giant who decided it was fun to dig in elbows up front during Pentagram.
Tonight was a five-band bill. One of several that I know of on this run. Front to back and jetlagged, it was a hell of a way to start the tour. Good crowd though, unless you count the aforementioned giant. Which I do. In bruises.
Here’s how it went down:
I know the deal is the tour and the touring bands, and I’m way down with that or I wouldn’t be here in the first place, but I was really glad I got to see Ancient Warlocks play. I also got to meet guitarist/vocalist Aaron Krause and guitarist Darren Chase and it was good for the soul. Their easy-rolling fuzz and trad-stoner grooving must have been a good match tonally for Mars Red Sky a few years back when they teamed up, but they were locked in and not at all out of place on the stage. When I asked Chase if they had any copies of their album to buy, he said they were sold out. It was easy to see why when they played.
They were a late add to the lineup, but a welcome one. Lesbian crossed genre lines fluidly and touched on black metal, doom and even some thrash with natural ease. They’re the kind of band that, if I lived in this town, I’d probably go see a lot, but as it is, this was the first time. Even after Ancient Warlocks loaded their gear off the stage, there was a considerable wall of amps, and I think an entire layer in that wall belonged to Lesbian. Hard to argue with the density of sound they were able to elicit from them, two guitars and bass running in gleeful aural excess. Bassist/vocalist Dorando Hodous said their last song — unless I’m mistaken about this — was about a “really horny dinosaur.” I didn’t catch the title, but it fucking ruled.
At this point, I feel comfortable saying I’ve seen Kings Destroy more than any band in the last three years. If that’s not true — and it is, by a mile — then it certainly will be by the end of this trip. Tonight was the first night of the tour, and it took them a song or two to click, but somewhere right around a new song called “Embers” that has, among other things, the most complex vocal melody I’ve heard from the band, they locked it in and were full-throttle the rest of the five-song set. “The Mountie” into “Casse-Tete” worked well to open, but once they slammed into “The Toe,” I think they made a lot of new friends. Leaving the rest of the band on stage, vocalist Steve Murphy hopped down into the crowd for closer “Blood of Recompense,” walking away when the song was over and handing the mic to a random guy in the crowd who, as he told his friends after putting it back on the stage, was tempted to make a dick joke, but decided against it.
Radio Moscow had the leg up. On the universe, it seemed, but at least on the other two touring acts, since they’d already had a couple gigs under their belt over the last few nights. It’s a crazy change in vibe to have the San Diego-based trio playing between Kings Destroy and Pentagram, but they hit into “I Just Don’t Know” from 2011′s Brain Cycles and the room, which by then was packed out, was theirs. They also brought the Mad Alchemy light show with them, though the oils were going for all the bands and I guess will be for the duration of the tour. Not going to complain, and it works especially well for Radio Moscow, who tossed in a new song full of intricate starts and stops that served as a reminder of how ridiculously tight the band’s rhythm section, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone are, though it’s guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs who takes the bulk of the solos, each one earned and soaked in wah.
I don’t care who you are or what you’ve seen, watching Pentagram play “Forever My Queen” is one of the great joys of doom. When I came back from dinner before the show started, I got to watch some of their soundcheck, so I knew “Be Forewarned” was coming — you might say I was forewarned — but “8″ from Last Rites and “Dying World” from the self-titled were cool to hear alongside staples like “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” “All Your Sins” and “When the Screams Come.” While they were setting up their gear, someone in the crowd looked up and said, “Holy shit, it’s Victor Griffin!” and that about sums it up. His tone and Bobby Liebling‘s frontman presence are a rightfully legendary combo, and even though it was the first night of their tour as well, they sent the Seattle crowd into the evening well aware of who and what they had just seen. The current Pentagram lineup, with Griffin, Liebling, bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley already sounded like pros, but I’ll be really interested to see where they’re at by the time we roll into San Francisco.
We loaded out the gear from El Corazon about as fast as we could and on the way back out to the Red Roof Inn, I asked Jim Pitts to stop the van so I could jump out and take a picture of the Space Needle. No regrets. Tomorrow morning, 11AM, we head to Portland. It’s after 3:30AM now. I think everyone was a little more relaxed with the first show down. Myself included.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Details are pretty light, I guess, and I even threw in the quote from the band themselves, but basically the takeaway from the PR wire this morning is that heavy blues rockers Radio Moscow will release a new album this May and that that album is called Magical Dirt. Of course, the trio was recently announced as taking part in Desertfest in London and Berlin this year, and as has occupied my mind to and beyond the point of much-needed distraction the last couple weeks, they’ll also hit the road this month with Pentagram and Kings Destroy on the West Coast, the latter of whom were kind enough to invite me and my laptop along for the trip. I can think of way worse things than seeing those bands, Radio Moscow included, seven nights in a row.
Radio Moscow have other shows booked on either side of that run, and the dates are included below. Seems fair to expect a decent amount of new material in the set as the band look forward to following up 2011′s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz.
RADIO MOSCOW ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THEIR FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM “MAGICAL DIRT” THIS MAY THROUGH ALIVE NATURALSOUND RECORDS!
PSYCH-ROCK MERCHANTS HIT THE ROAD FEB. 18TH FOR WEST COAST TOUR INCLUDING SEVEN SPECIAL SHOWS SUPPORTING PENTAGRAM!
Says the band: “Can’t wait to share the new sounds. Release date, and more coming soon! Stay tuned”
RADIO MOSCOW TOUR DATES (* supporting Pentagram) Feb 18 @ Winters Tavern – Pacifica, CA Feb 19 @ The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA Feb 21 @ The Kremlin – Vancouver, BC Feb 22 @ El Corazon – Seattle, WA * Feb 23 @ Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR * Feb 25 @ DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA * Feb 26 @ The Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV * Feb 27 @ Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM * Feb 28 @ Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO * March 1 @ In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT * March 7 @ Til-Two Club – San Diego, CA (more dates to be announced soon)
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re knee-deep in prime festival-add time now, and Desertfest 2014 in both London and Berlin continues to tack on bands at an alarming rate. One struggles (and apparently fails) to keep up. A few more announcements have come out today, but for the ease of the reader and also my poor brain, here’s a quick rundown of the latest additions to both locales first:
London: Bright Curse, Radio Moscow, Borracho, 11Paranoias, The Cosmic Dead.
Berlin: Sasquatch (!), Radio Moscow, Doctor Doom, The Moth, Castle.
Kvelertak will play in Berlin and London, and in case you missed the exclamation point, it fucking rules that Sasquatch will join their labelmates Gozu in Berlin. European tour dates together, maybe? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Meantime:
DesertFest 2014 Tunes into Radio Moscow
Next to join the annual DesertFest juggernaut are San Diegan blues-psych power trio, Radio Moscow; a band who manage to both chill you the fuck out and wake you the fuck up at the same time.
Part of that ‘70s revival scene that has invaded Europe in recent years – see Graveyard, Horisont, Gentlemans Pistols and Kadavar – Radio Moscow prove that the throwback vibes can be mastered on the more Western side of the Atlantic too. Starting out life as the duo of the multi-instrumentalist mainstay Parker Griggs and bassist Serana Andersen, Radio Moscow have been laying down the fuzz infused southern stomp since 2003 with their self-titled debut full length dropping in 2007. Three full lengths – including the absolutely stunningly swaggering sophomore, ‘Brain Cycles’ – and several bassists and drummers later, Radio Moscow have cemented their sound around the aching-heart blues strut of Parker Griggs, and a touch of distortion.
Definitely one to bring the foot-stomping and head-bopping to any swarm of onlookers, Radio Moscow are sure to slay in Camden this April. You stay bluesy San Diego.
Kind Words: Tom Geddes
DesertFest 2014 Takes the Bright Curse
Citizens of the world, Bright Curse have been kicking up a right old stink in our very own London since their acid and angst infused inception during the summer of 2012.
The trio, who hail from France, have been daring and dastardly enough to produce something that is all too rare nowadays: original music. Now, that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t echoes of inspiration in there in abundance. From Queens of the Stone Age to Graveyard to Dozer, they’re all present and accounted for yet buried so deep beneath the soil of Bright Curse’s smoky, solo-laden, shadow dwelling brand of rock it’s near impossible to put your finger on a dominant influence.
Their EP track ‘The Hermit’ is somehow both mesmerising and monstrous all at once; haunting whispers one moment lead into a crushing war-cry of composed fury the next that has Vikings racing away in retreat. Complete with obligatory badass artwork adorning their t-shirts Bright Curse could well have been designed with DesertFest in mind. Witnessing the prophecy unravel will be a mind-bending experience, for sure.
Kind Words: Dan Grigg
** DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014 – SASQUATCH CONFIRMED **
We are thrilled to announce that Los Angeles Rockers SASQUATCH are confirmed for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014 !
SASQUATCH was formed in Los Angeles in 2001 by Philadelphia transplant Keith Gibbs (Guitar, Vocals) and Detroit natives Rick Ferrante (Drums) and Clayton Charles (Bass). After bursting onto the stoner rock scene with, not one, but two, closely packed studio albums (conveniently named Sasquatch “I” and “II”) in 2004 and 2006, the power trio went subterranean until 2010 before resurfacing with a new lineup (upon Clayton’s departure in 2007, the guys recruited Chicagoan Jason Casanova to join the fold) and a third opus (entitled, you guessed it… “III”), to the relief of many impatient fans.
This career-establishing trilogy managed to seduce listeners and critics by beginning with the debut’s roaring-down-the-highway riffs, hypnotic grooves and occasional forays into southern rock ; continuing with the sophomore LP’s increasingly focused, hook-laden hard rock classicism ; and culminating in the third album’s heightened states of fuzz-distortion and earth-rumbling power chords.
All the while, SASQUATCH steadily brought their advanced heavy rock “theories” to the people, as they demolished stages across the globe alongside the likes of Blue Cheer, Nebula, Unida, Solace and Fatso Jetson, to name a few. Most recently, the band was sighted marauding across Europe with Small Stone label mates Roadsaw & Dixie Witch.
In September 2013, the band returned with a brand-spanking new album titled “IV”. Drawing on influences from 70′s hard rock mixed with a dash of metal and an unmistakable undercurrent psychedelia, a clear songwriting approach keeping the focus on the hook, the band delivered their most mature, inspired and diverse song-set to date, chunked with compositional twists, both heartwarmingly familiar and totally unexpected, plus thundering power chords, sizzling solos, shrewd melodic flights and even super-trippy moments…
Wreaking havoc with this forth Small Stone release, SASQUATCH lead the way with their fiery brand of rock n’ roll, and we are really happy to have them playing at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014 !