Bongzilla, Gateway (2002)
I think it says something about how far we’ve come as a species that on a given Friday night, I can type in a few simple words and come back with a complete stream of Gateway, the 2002 third album from Bongzilla, who even more than a decade later still sound like the stonedest group of dudes ever to walk the face of the earth. There still aren’t many bands around who can match these guys for tone, and though neither Gateway nor their 2005 apparent-swansong, Amerijuanican, has the reputation that 2001’s sophomore outing, Apogee, managed to pack into its crust-covered bowl, Gateway had no trouble getting its point across. That point? Bongzilla really, really liked to get high, and they wanted to talk about it.
Or if not talk, at least communicate ideas through a series of vocal-cord-shredding screams and ten-ton stomp. Bongzilla guitarist/vocalist Michael “Muleboy” Makela and drummer Michael “Magma” Henry were last heard from in 2010 when their subsequent duo, Aquilonian, made its debut on a Choking Hazard Records split with Sollubi (review here), but there hasn’t been much word of them since. Still not sure what broke up Bongzilla, to be honest, though if you told me that the dudes in the band got tired of making weed puns after a decade and wanted to quit, or if you told me they just got high and wandered off, I’d believe you either way. Could do with some more from Aquilonian though.
But so it goes.
Guess what I am? Broke as shit. I mean b-r-o-k-e. Turns out that when you lose the job that lets you sustain yourself at a semi-livable wage it has a real impact on your take-home. Who’d have thought? The good news is it doesn’t cost anything to play albums uploaded to YouTube — and with nearly all of my CDs still in boxes more than two months after my move and set to stay that way for an undetermined amount of time, I’ve been streaming a lot lately. The bad news is it means there’s a decent chance I won’t be making the trip south to Virginia for this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom after all. Hard to justify at least $300 in gas, plus whatever in hotel, plus the time off from work, when you’re sitting at the table with The Patient Mrs. trying to figure out which day to buy milk before the next paycheck.
The thought of missing that is a bummer, especially with all the fest has been through in being canceled and brought back from the brink, but last I heard being broke sucked, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to express the sentiment. We’ll see how next week pans out, but it’s not looking positive.
Better thoughts come in the form of a slew of cool local gigs. Tomorrow night I go see Pelican and Kings Destroy in Boston, then on Wednesday, Mike Scheidt and Uzala hit Providence, and the next night, Jim Healey from Black Thai and Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback have a gig at Radio in Somerville. Next weekend It’s Not Night: It’s Space rolls through with Queen Elephantine as well, so yeah, with or without travel, it’s pretty packed.
Look out next week for reviews of those, and one for the new Samsara Blues Experiment album, which if you want the short version is a delight. No less of a surprise than was the direction on their last full-length, Revelation and Mystery (review here). I’ve been back and forth on the idea of reviewing the new Red Fang as well. I’d like to do it, since I also have that interview in the can, but am backed up on stuff that I think probably is more pressing than yet another Red Fang review among the thousands that are probably out there at this point. Maybe that’s a fucked way of thinking of it. Whatever. It’s my time I’m spending.
Most importantly next week, though, I’ve got a track premiere on Wednesday from Lumbar, the project with Aaron Edge (ex-Roareth, etc.), Mike Scheidt (YOB) and Tad Doyle (TAD, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth), and interviews with Edge and Scheidt both to go with it. It’s heavy stuff by any means you want to measure and not to be missed.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio.
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