Earthless, Live at Roadburn (2008)
Among the hallowed ranks of performances at the Netherlands-based festival, there are few that have earned the legendary status of that which would become Earthless‘ Live at Roadburn. Four songs, more than 80 minutes long, it’s a mammoth, beast of an undertaking. The year was 2008. I wasn’t there to see it, much to my chagrin, but Earthless had played earlier in the weekend and were taking somebody’s place or something like that, and next thing anyone standing at the 013 knew, the San Diego trio of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba blew everyone’s ass out of the room. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is pressed to plastic on Live at Roadburn — the three-piece rip into “Blue,” “From the Ages,” “Godspeed” and “Sonic Prayer” with authority well beyond what they showed on the prior Sonic Prayer Jam live outing or their two studio albums at that point, 2006’s Sonic Prayer and 2007’s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, which, like Live at Roadburn, was released on Tee Pee Records.
Though Earthless offered a number of splits in the interim, it would be another five years before Live at Roadburn got a proper follow-up in the 2013 studio album, From the Ages (review here), which not only featured a solid half-hour’s take on the title-track, which made its first appearance here, but fostered the same kind of command. In the years since, Earthless have been at the spearhead of a West Coast heavy psychedelic movement, touring the US, Europe, Australia — I don’t know off-hand if they’ve been to South America and Japan, but let’s assume yes — as one of its most essential bands and having a hand in influencing a new generation of acts grown up in their wake. If you think that’s overstating it, go and listen to those bands. Earthless‘ amorphous-seeming compositional sprawl is writ large on the jams of others, and while they’re not the only point of reference for the West Coast’s sun-baked vision of heavy — the heavy ’70s have certainly played a part in the development thereof — they are a key factor, inarguably.
It’s been over seven years since I last saw Earthless on their own — I did catch them with Heavy Blanket in 2014 (review here) — which by any measure is too long, but though their legacy has grown in that time and no doubt their chemistry as well and their methodology has shifted to include occasional vocals from Mitchell when it suits their purposes, the core of what has made Earthless so special is still present in Live at Roadburn, and I think it still comes through even eight years after the fact how utterly incredible this show must have been to see. Imagine being blindsided by witnessing the moment of this band’s arrival. It’s enough to give you chills.
Hope you enjoy.
I kept it pretty quiet, but I’ve been on a work trip all week. If all goes well, by the time this is posted I’ll be back, safe and sound, in Connecticut with The Patient Mrs., but as fingers hit keys I’m in Atlantic City, NJ. Spent the early part of the week in North Jersey, which was good since I got to see my family on the side, but came down to AC on Wednesday and have been here since, am very much looking forward to leaving. Not really my kind of town, haven’t been here since I saw Clutch half a decade ago or whenever it was. I don’t even know and I’m too exhausted to go chase down the link, but suffice it to say it was a long time before right now. Atlantic City is still a depressing place to be.
Being here for work hasn’t helped in that regard, frankly.
I’ve been short on time, haven’t even had a second to trim down the Greenleaf interview to be transcribed. I’ll get there. I promise I will. If not this weekend — because I might seriously put my laptop down after I finish typing this and not pick it up again until Sunday when I prep stuff to go up on Monday — then definitely next week. I’m just so friggin’ tired.
Monday: A full album stream from Atala. But wait, didn’t I already review the record with a track premiere? Yuppers. They asked if I wanted to do a stream of the full LP, so I said sure. Cool album, anyway, so screw it. I have no idea what I’ll write to go with it, but I’ve got a couple days to sort that. Also look for a Kaleidobolt track premiere on Tuesday and a King Buffalo review sometime before next week is done.
And sometime next week — not even gonna say when — I’ll announce two more bands for The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is Aug. 20 at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Get your tickets here.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll be in full-on recovery mode until Sunday, at which point I have to take The Patient Mrs. to the airport so she can go to London for like 10 days with students. I’d be like mad about it if I hadn’t been to Roadburn for the last eight years. Ha.
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