First-Ever Ripplefest Boston Announced for May 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

ripplefest boston 2024 banner

Set for May 18, the inaugural Ripplefest Boston is announced as a new joint effort between Ripple Music and Grayskull Booking, and the lineup is quality front to back. King Buffalo will headline at the Middle East Downstairs — which, in a victory for Beantown weirdos of all stripes, has apparently not yet been turned into condos doubling as luxury dorms — and they’ll come from Rochester, New York, to do so, but lest you worry about homegrown representation, between Blood Lightning, Mother Iron Horse, Kind and Cortez, they’ve got it covered. Curse the Son (new album when?) will head north on I-95 from their home in Connecticut to lead off what I have no doubt will be a rager to remember and hopefully the beginning of a new annual tradition.

Ripplefest of course has long since joined the city-as-franchise model of heavyfest curation. Ripplefest Texas in September has a multi-day assemblage that’s among the finer lineups I’ve ever seen in the US, but they’ve also been doing it for a few years now, so give Boston time to get sorted and see what the response is to this initial edition before scaling up your expectations. In other words, worry about 2026 when we get there. For now just be stoked a thing is happening and don’t forget to actually show up so that it can happen again. I’m still not sure why nobody’s set up one of these in Parsippany, New Jersey, but I guess that’s just me.

The announcement was short and sweet and came from social media:

ripplefest boston 2024 poster

How much goodness can you take? Been keeping this under wraps, but now the kids gloves have come off. Get ready for RippleFest Boston!

Here’s where we tear it up Ripple Music-style with King Buffalo Blood Lightning Mother Iron Horse KIND Cortez & Curse the Son! Tickets on sale this Friday at 10 AM:

Blood Lightning, Blood Lightning

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Friday Full-Length: King Buffalo, Live at Burning Man

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Let the record show I was can-you-keep-this-moving-for-me stirring the base for a cheese sauce soon to go on cauliflower because my wife loves me when the email came in that King Buffalo had just released Live at Burning Man as a free download. And so, a little softshoe in front of the stove and my transformation to Old Weirdo Relative at Holiday is complete. I had it on after dinner too while I did dishes. For like four hours. Family milling about this way and that. I’m hunched over the white sink merrily scrubbing and singing along to “Orion.”

It was Thanksgiving in the US, and we hosted north of 20 people at the house, so it’s a good thing King Buffalo‘s set at the fabled Gen-X/Millennial do-art-and-maybe-drugs gathering was long. The edited video of Live at Burning Man — streaming free on YouTube (second player above) — is half an hour, but the audio of the full performance tops 93 minutes and was clearly put together with the idea of featuring a couple more sprawling jams. So you get “Longing to Be the Mountain,” as well as “Repeater” and “Red Star 1 & 2,” “Cerberus” and “Shadows” past or near 10 minutes, and if you’re an established fan of the band, any single one of them should be enough impetus to hear the thing.

Whether it’s the extra bit of sneer in Sean McVay‘s voice in “Grifter” or the burn of guitar in “Longing to Be the Mountain,” the shimmer prompting cheers at the start of “Orion,” the graceful build into “Repeater” with Dan Reynolds‘ e’er smooth basslines and Scott Donaldson‘s somehow-restless-and-unhurried drumming giving the push. “Silverfish” and “Grifter” are the gateway. From there, it’s a deep-dive, headline-style set recorded by engineer Grant Husselman, who also helmed 2021’s Acheron (review here), the middle installment of King Buffalo‘s ‘pandemic trilogy’ that began with the 2021 godsend The Burden of Restlessness (review here), Acheron, which found the trio (and Husselman, and me at least for a bit) recording in a roadside attraction cave off the New York Thruway, and 2022’s Regenerator (review here).

Whatever King Buffalo do from here — and they said the Winter US touring that of course follows the Fall European touring will be their last stint out until they at least write their next LP if not finish it — there’s no question that their ‘trilogy era’ stands as a thing unto itself. It’s the difference between a band with two records on the rise and beginning to capture and audience’s attention and headliners with five records under their belt, an increasingly progressive course and like three hours’ worth of material to change up any set you like to such a degree that, when tapped for a fest like Burning Man outside the heavy underground’s own conventional circuit, they can accommodate that audience by playing longer, jammier, more psychedelic songs. They can lean into “Repeater,” and roll “Cerberus” to a consuming, massive finish to leave blown minds in their wake. They not only have the flexibility as artists to do so, they have the professionalism to actually do it.

Live at Burning Man is the third live outing from King Buffalo behind 2016’s Live at Wicked Squid Studios (review here) and 2020’s Live at Freak Valley (discussed here), and one might look at that from a band King Buffalo Live at Burning Manwho put out their first record in 2016 and be like, wow, that’s a lot, but each one of those captures them at a different point in their evolution, and Live at Burning Man feels no less like a realization than the three studio albums whose tracks comprise most of the set. “Loam” precedes “Cerberus” in closing, and the two — from The Burden of Restlessness and Acheron, respectively — complement each other well in crafting a build in intensity that begins with the second part of “Red Star 1 & 2.” And if you watch the video, it gets especially trippy right around there as well. Justifiably so. King Buffalo don’t go full-Hawkwind space rock very often, but they’ve got the synth for it when they do.

And I guess that is kind of the lesson of Live at Burning Man. It’s that whatever’s coming next, King Buffalo are ready for it. Those last shows in December and January linked above, and in a way this surprise release — at least I didn’t know it was coming — of Live at Burning Man as a name-your-price Bandcamp special Thanksgiving whathaveyou is perfectly timed as a capstone to the previously-noted ‘trilogy era.’ Considering the scope of the work and the progressive blossoming that their third, fourth and fifth albums wrought despite being issued in such relatively quick succession, to underscore the point that not only did King Buffalo launch the 2020s with three of its thus-far most essential heavy records, but that when it was possible for them to do so, they then went out and hand-delivered those songs to an established and growing audience.

As for Burning Man itself, well, you don’t record in a cave and you don’t chase down playing Lincoln Center in Manhattan as an ostensibly underground band if you’re not into creating an experience for yourself as well as your audience. I’ve no doubt this one was a trip, and I know I’ve been very glad to have caught them the couple times I have since the world started happening again — most recently was this past summer at Freak Valley (review here) — so despite not having been at the show, the documentation of this band playing these songs at this time is something to be appreciated now and in the future. I’m glad to count it as a fourth in that trilogy.

The dishes outlasted the set, but that chug at the end of “Cerberus” was a good rhythm for scrubbing, and the cauliflower was delicious. Thanksgiving — the narrative utterly ludicrous and atrocious in the true American tradition of racism — is celebrated in my house as a chance to be with family, cooking and eating and enjoying each other’s company. I know that maybe putting a record on while you try and shake that last bit of soap out of the bottle of Palmolive and fall completely into your own head thinking about the songs doesn’t scream ‘family togetherness’ in most situations, but speaking exclusively for my own brain, sometimes it feels like the one thing that helps the other happen.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy. And if you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope it was a good one.

Next week is a Quarterly Review. Not going to be a lot of posts besides that, but there are a few news things and such I’ll want to post. But 10 records per day for at least five days. I’ll decide this weekend if I want to go longer than that. It’s a LOT of stuff I want to catch up on — David Eugene Edwards I’ve been trying to review since Spring — plus newer things like Primordial and Tortuga, Fuzz Evil, Dune Pilot, on and on, and I hope it’ll be a good mix. Last QR was tough. Sometimes without meaning to I’ll slate like, three or four psych records the same day. Can’t do that shit! My brain goes numb. “Duh, sounds like mushrooms?” Review over.

But anyway that’s the plan. Through the holiday, into the Quarterly Review. Then after that I’m digging into year-end time, trying not to let it go too long and end up posting it on Xmas Eve or something silly like that, which I’m pretty sure I’ve done in the past.

Thank you if you’ve contributed to the year-end poll. Thank you if you intend to. Thank you for reading. Thanks for being alive. I mean that shit. It’s work to get through a day. Thank you for whatever in your life led you to the end of this sentence.

Have a great and safe weekend. I think we’re mostly in recovery mode, but I’m sure we’ll find some silly shit to get up to while I also stress about the Quarterly Review in that special way that The Patient Mrs. loves so, so, so much. It’ll be fun.


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King Buffalo Announce US Winter Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Starting tomorrow night at the Up in Smoke Festival in Switzerland, King Buffalo return to Europe for their second tour abroad of 2023, following up on a stint this past Spring that took them back to Freak Valley (review here) and elsewhere. In addition to Up in Smoke, the current run also boasts stops at Into the VoidKeep it LowDesertfest Belgium and Lazy Bones Fests, which isn’t quite all of ’em — there are always more sneaking around — but it’s a lot.

And King Buffalo have been touring. A lot. Time for a new record? You know it. No, I don’t honestly think the Rochester, New York, trio — who emerged from the pandemic as one of the US’ brightest hopes in heavy psychedelia and have only furthered their case since — haven’t written a song in the last three years. Doesn’t seem feasible. But it makes sense that they might want to knuckle down and get everything ready to record. They’re following up an entire trilogy of albums, remember. Want to make sure your ducks are in a row.

And you’ll note they say there’s nothing else planned now. Plans change. Still, if you want to catch King Buffalo on this weird album-cycle-times-three — and I’ll gladly argue that you do — these shows might be your last chance. Fair warning.

From the PR wire:

king buffalo us winter shows


Tickets go on sale THIS FRIDAY at 10am
–> Click here for tickets:

These are our last planned shows for 2023 & 2024. If you want to see us before we hunker down to write a new record, THIS IS IT!

12/6 Portland, ME @ House of Music
12/7 Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
12/8 Fairfield, CT @ The Warehouse
12/9 Providence, RI @ FETE Lounge
12/30 Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
1/12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird
1/13 Detroit, MI @ El Club
1/14 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
1/16 Davenport, IA @ Raccoon Motel
1/17 Bloomington, IN @ Bishop Bar
1/18 Louisville, KY @ Whirling Tiger
1/19 Cincinnati, OH @ Woodward Theatre
1/20 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups


29.9. (CH) Pratteln @ Up in Smoke Festival
30.9. (NL) Leeuwarden @ Into the Void
1.10. (DE) Lubeck @ Riders Café
3.10. (SWE) Gothenburg @ Musikens Hus
4.10. (DK) Copenhagen @ Loppen
5.10. (DE) Berlin @ Lido*
6.10. (DE) Munich @ Keep It Low*
7.10. (AT) Dornbirn @ Conrad Sohm*
8.10. (CH) Dudingen @ Bad Bonn
10.10. (ESP) Barcelona @ Razzmatazz3
11.10. (ESP) Madrid @ Nazca
12.10. (POR) Lisbon @ RCA Club
13.10. (POR) Porto @ Hard Club
14.10. (ESP) Hondarribia @ Psilocybenea
15.10. (FR) Toulouse @ Connexion Live
17.10. (UK) London @ The Dome
18.10. (UK) Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
19.10. (UK) Nottingham @ Bodega
20.10. (UK) Brighton @ The Arch
21.10. (BE) Antwerp @ Desertfest
22.10. (NL) Deventer @ Burgerweeshuis
24.10. (DE) Cologne @ Club Volta
25.10. (NL) Amsterdam @ Melkweg
26.10. (NL) Eindhoven @ Effenaar
27.10. (DE) Frankfurt @ Zoom
28.10. (DE) Hamburg @ Lazy Bones Festival

Buy Tickets!

King Buffalo is:
Sean McVay – Guitar, Vocals, & Synth
Dan Reynolds – Bass & Synth
Scott Donaldson – Drums

King Buffalo, Regenerator (2022)

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King Buffalo Announce October European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Rochester heavy psych rockers King Buffalo will return to Europe for the second time in 2023 this Fall. They were last there, oh, earlier this month for a stint that wrapped on June 17 at Hellfest in France, but they state in the quick announcement below that their October tour will be their last time in Europe until 2025. That’s kind of surprising considering we’re only halfway through 2023 and King Buffalo has been going hard before and after the pandemic, but no doubt they’ve got plans, whether that’s touring in other places — Australia/New Zealand comes to mind — or recording, or both, or neither. We’ll see.

The band recently put their 2013 Demo (review here) up for a 10th anniversary edition vinyl preorder (info here), and they’ll be supported for most of this tour by Bergen, Norway-based labelmate upstarts Slomosa. Their announcement of the tour draws together prior confirmations for Keep it LowDesertfest Belgium and Lazy Bones Festival, each weekend but one of the tour anchored by a fest date, which is not a thing to be taken for granted. We live in a golden age. King Buffalo are a part of what makes it so very shiny.

Also, anyone notice how King BuffaloSlomosaElder and Iron Jinn have all had announcements this week? It’s like the entire Stickman Records roster all decided it was time to get out. Good fun.

Thee dates:



These will be our last European Tour Dates until 2025. If you want to see us, this is your last chance!

–> Click here for tickets:

5.10. (DE) Berlin @ Lido
6.10. (DE) Munich @ Keep It Low
7.10. (CH) Zurich @ Dynamo
8.10. (CH) Dudingen @ Bad Bonn
10.10. (ESP) Barcelona @ Razzmatazz3
11.10. (ESP) Madrid @ Nazca
12.10. (POR) Lisbon @ RCA Club
13.10. (POR) Porto @ Hard Club
14.10. (ESP) Hondarribia @ Psilocybenea
15.10. (FR) Toulouse @ Connexion Live
17.10. (UK) London @ The Dome
18.10. (UK) Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
19.10. (UK) Nottingham @ Bodega
20.10. (UK) Brighton @ The Arch
21.10. (BE) Antwerp @ Desertfest
22.10. (NL) Deventer @ Burgerweeshuis
24.10. (DE) Cologne @ Club Volta
25.10. (NL) Amsterdamn @ Melkweg
26.10. (NL) Eindhoven @ Effenaar
27.10. (DE) Frankfurt @ Zoom
28.10. (DE) Hamburg @ Lazy Bones Festival

King Buffalo is:
Sean McVay – Guitar, Vocals, & Synth
Dan Reynolds – Bass & Synth
Scott Donaldson – Drums

King Buffalo, Demo (2013)

King Buffalo, Regenerator (2022)

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Notes From Freak Valley 2023 – Day 2

Posted in Features, Reviews on June 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Melvins lead shot (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Freak Valley Festival 2023 – Day 2

Fri. – 1PM – A Different Shade Tent

Got back to the hotel in Siegen last night around two, I think. The question was whether to shower before collapsing into bed. I did, and it was the right call. The smell of cigarette smoke, sweat, and humanity was powerful motivation. And when I did conk out, I slept harder than I have in some time. Maybe about a year?

It’s hot today and soon to start. Bit of breeze in the shade is a big yes. In the interest of honesty I tell you I’m beat and a little nervous for what the day might bring, but ready for it. Took all the allergy medicine, have sunglasses, my silly hat, earplugs. Water. So much water. Gonna go grab some more now, in fact. All the water.

Sorry for the typos today as well, but thanks for reading if you are/do. Here’s the day:


Orsak Oslo 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Norwegian/Swedish instrumental four-piece remind me of last year’s fest, which had a whole bunch of meditative psych/post-heavy with which they would fit well. Their new album, In Irons (discussed here), came out in April on Vinter Records, and they harnessed that fluidity live, or maybe that’s the other way around, I’d have to see them a few more times to properly judge. But the bit of krautrock they worked in was met with some dancing from the crowd, and while I think many of those in the audience today are definitely feeling the edge of the late finish last night — I know I am — Orsak:Oslo were a way of easing into a day that’s even longer and has more to see. For sure a different vibe than Tuskar, who were first yesterday, but their flow and comparatively mellow but still lucid psych seemed to hypnotize just right. I was glad to see them again after seeing them briefly in Norway in 2019 (review here), and their set was a stirring reminder to get my ass in gear on reviewing that record. Message received. Obviously they didn’t have the biggest crowd of the day, playing at 1:30 some 10 hours before the headliner, but there were people out front, more by the end, and they were dancing.

Earth Ship

Earth Ship 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was very curious to see Earth Ship, because as regards projects from the Berlin-based Jan Oberg and Sabine Oberg — the others are Grin and the pandemic-born Slowshine — Earth Ship are kind of the middle ground. They rock more than Grin, whose sludge is pointedly aggro, and they’re more grounded than the psych-tinged Slowshine, and not only do I appreciate how their bands are organized — I like a bit of this goes here, this goes here, this goes here — but Earth Ship’s riffs are a hook of their own. And they’re more even more rock live than on record, though Jan’s vocals are still largely barks, but watching them for the first time, it’s easy to see they’re having fun and love what they do. They weren’t thrashing around or anything, but there was passion behind their delivery and stage energy, and it was infectious. Inviting, in a way. “You dig this. We do too. Let’s get loud.” Unfortunately this utopian vision doesn’t apply to everyone everywhere all the time, because it’s a big planet, but I’m glad to have had a sampling of what they do and hope it’s not the last time our paths cross, in whatever incarnation.


Kamchatka 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Heavy blues promised, heavy blues delivered. Nothing there to argue with even if you wanted to. In the heat of the afternoon, Sweden’s Kamchatka brought a little bit of a breeze that, in combination with the sprinklers strewn about the festival grounds being frequented by adults and children alike, was some measure of relief. No doubt the wind was conjured by the air being pushed through the amps and the swing of drummer Tobias Strandvik, who was comfortable in the pocket as the trio — completed by guitarist Thomas “Juneor” Andersson and bassist Per Wiberg (yes, the same one who’s played with Opeth, Candlemass, Spiritual Beggars, on and on, mostly on keys; he’s also got a few solo releases; must like music or something) were classically dynamic, varied of tempo and mood, and they had a couple sleek jams worked in with the bouts of uptempo shove, mellow groove, all that stuff, definitely heavy ’70s informed but modern in their presentation. I wandered a bit, trying not to be just in one place all day — the quest for shade is part of that, to be sure — but my own restlessness was duly counteracted by the solid, unpretentious grooves coming from the stage, and as one will on such an occasion, I found myself feeling like I need to listen to this band more. A lesson learned, maybe.


Steak 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

So somewhere in the long-long ago, I saw a band in London called Crystal Head who blew me away and left me wondering what the hell the deal was that they weren’t huge. Seeing that band’s former guitarist/vocalist, Tom Cameron, joining his ex-and-again bandmate Dean Deal (drums), as part of an upgraded five-piece Steak lineup, again on guitar and adding his vocals to those of frontman Chris “Kippa” Haley — they even covered that band’s likewise memorable “Perfect Weirdo” before playing a new song called “2×2” — was a thrill. Haley sharing vocal duties is a shift in the dynamic, but in line with 2022’s righteous Acute Mania (review here) — if you heard the record you might say their realizing their potential to such a degree was “a long time coming” — they’re a deeper band for being able to bring their arrangements to life with another player on board. I haven’t been to a show in London in half a decade, but I hope Steak are playing the next one I hit. I was prepared for a more mature act by seeing them in 2019 at Desertfest New York (review here), but between the lineup, the record and the performance, they’ve truly put it all together. Change is the nature of the universe. Sometimes it even works out.


Pontiak 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well, that’s my new working definition of underrated. Based in Virginia, the brotherly trio Pontiak were the perfect blend for the moment. They were heavy enough to follow Steak so that there wasn’t a loss of aural push on the day, but with each of member of the Carney family with a mic, yeah. Just, yeah. I’ve written about them intermittently over the years, never really with any depth, and I’m sorry that it’s only now I understand the error in that neglect. The noisier, punkier, more aggro impulse is still there in the guitar, but the atmosphere is so reconciled to it, so right in being what it is, that the melodies seemed that much richer for the underlying tension. Sitting at stage right, I turned my head and saw a small pocket of maybe four dudes being led in a yoga class and hell fucking yes I joined (asked first). Happy to report that yoga and Pontiak went together extremely well, and the stretch and the focus on calm movement, purposeful movement, that slowdown was incredible. Doing cat-cows while the band locked in a half-time nod that reminded me of the time they toured with Sleep. Planks and down-dogs and pigeon and all that. I said yesterday that I could feel myself being too tight. I’m not sure my back will thank me this evening for the cobras, but screw it, sometimes the riffs are right and the thing is happening and you need to go with it. I have absolutely no regrets. I hope it happens again tomorrow. And if Pontiak wanted to do a hang out and do a second show, that’d be rad too.

Seedy Jeezus

Seedy Jeezus 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Would be an odd way to start a conversation, but if you asked me how many times in my life I was going to see Melbourne, Australia’s Seedy Jeezus, my honest answer would’ve been zero to one. Thus I consider watching them play a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and with their The Hollow Earth live 2LP (discussed here) fresh in mind — they played the title-track, and no, that wasn’t all — I tried my best to soak in every minute of their heavy psych-blues jams and the scorching guitar work of Lex Waterreus, who put his soul into every note in a way that was palpable, but that didn’t lose the audience along the way. I’d say he was all heart if he wasn’t also so clearly technique. They were Hendrixian even before they threw in the cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” that also appears on that live record, but certainly that would seal the deal in that regard. The last time they were here, in 2015, they put out a live album after. If they did ‘Live at Freak Valley Again’ they’d be well within their rights. Actually, maybe they should just record all their shows. Worked for the Dead. Easy, organic flow, jammy but headed somewhere, joy to follow. They’re not a band I ever thought I would experience live. And I met Lex and drummer Mark Sibson — the band is very much completed by Paul Crick on bass — and they seem like nice sorts. Lex teared up thanking the crowd — he also shouted out the much-missed Stoned Jesus, who would be here but for war — and then the whole band proceeded to tear into another ace jam of the kind you get to witness, well, let’s just say not very often. Having now done so once, that’s a record I’d be happy to break.

King Buffalo

King Buffalo 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a charmed fucking existence I lead. King Buffalo are the first band this weekend whose set I was so wrapped up in that I forgot to write. Sometimes you just leave time. It hasn’t been that long since I last encountered the Rochester, New York, three-piece, less than a year — though as history has shown, that’s long enough for one or two landmark LPs from them — but they were a pleasure as always. Dan Reynolds, man. Taking that bassline in “Silverfish” for walks both literal and figurative. They’ve been on tour for somewhere around three weeks now, have somewhere around a week to go, and are duly sharp onstage. I could go on and on about their pandemic trilogy of LPs, regale you with hyperbole and superlatives about the depth of their sound, the emotional undercurrent to their melodies, the sheer growth they’ve undergone in the last nine years, but I’ve said it all before. And being me, I’ll probably say it all again. I could have put in the review links, but fuck it. Watching them, it wasn’t time for that. It was time to be in that moment. That particular almost gone right very now. Dudes in the crowd throwing love hearts at each other. It was a beautiful moment to be alive. I can take out my phone and finish the god damned sentence later. I don’t know about you, but I would have had a much harder time the last three years of my life without this band. And I don’t think they’ve yet done their best work. I hope they never do. Would be a shame to think of them not chasing that thing. Not gonna take away from anyone else on this bill or the decades of work Earthless and the Melvins have put in, but this was my headliner set for the night. And it wasn’t even dark.


Earthless 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was in front of the stage at the time, but I have to think that wherever you were on the festival grounds, you knew Earthless as about to go on when Isaiah Mitchell started warming up on guitar. Little shred here, little shred there. Mario Rubalcaba back there thump thump, Mike Eginton rumble rumble. And that’s Earthless. You take shred shred, thump thump, rumble rumble, make sure everyone is unrealistically talented, and you let it become epic as it inevitably will. Serve hot, like scorching. The most-of-the-time instrumental trio came to Freak Valley to play their latest album, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (review here), in its entirety. That album came out in January and in following 2018’s Black Heaven (review here), found the band reclaiming their longform sans-vocal approach after the last record’s partial foray into more traditional rock songwriting. Of course they ripped it up, they’re frickin’ Earthless. Gradual start, bit of a raga wakeup at the beginning of the record, then all of a sudden except not really sudden it’s been happening the whole time you just didn’t realize it because see “unrealistically talented” above, and they were fully immersed. And so was the crowd. It was after 10PM but still just barely nighttime — Earthless at sundown; I dare you to ask for more — and I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turns out that whole record was meant to be played live. And that’s something they can actually do because the parts are plotted. They’re songwriting, just on their own level, which incidentally is how they do everything. The world is in no small part because of Earthless not at all short on instrumental heavy psych rock — more bands seem to form every time they play, and they play a fair amount; someone tell Bandcamp they’re gonna need more servers — but still, one Earthless. They were entrancing.


Melvins 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I would never dare call myself a Melvins fan, especially in the presence of so many who obviously are, but it’s common knowledge they destroy live and their current incarnation absolutely slayed. I don’t know if I’m going to go dig into the probably 15 or so records they’ve done in the last decade-plus to catch up, but I definitely don’t regret watching them cover “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and they played a tune or two I recognized from the days when they and Big Business were a thing — fortunately Dale Crover didn’t seem to have much trouble doing the work of two drummers — and that song from Stoner Witch or whichever of those Atlantic-era records it was. Imagine a major label signing a band like this now. Ha. But these Melvins have been at it — hard — for the last 40 years and they’re still punk rock no matter how thick their riffs are. Goes without saying this was my first time seeing them with Steven Shane McDonald and he was a perfect fit. That’s the guy to keep up with Crover and King Buzzo, as much as anyone could hope to do so. He was a blast, they were a blast, and they came out to “Take on Me” by A-ha, which in the world of weird coincidences, I’ve run into three times in the last month. Great song, doesn’t matter. The important thing is the Melvins let Freak Valley know why they are who they are and sat on top of this bill because it would’ve been silly for another band to try to follow them. King Buzzo echoing into the finally-night sky. Total blowout.

Okay that’s enough. Day three tomorrow. Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump. Good night.

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King Buffalo Announce Demo Vinyl Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I was on social media the other day, scrolling for band news which is pretty much what I do on there at this point, when I saw something or other about King Buffalo — they’ve been on tour in Europe ahead of returning to Freak Valley next week, it might’ve been that, it might not — but I was skimming the comments and there were people ragging on the band.

It was a little surprising, but it’s actually a sign that all the work they’ve put in, whether it’s on tour, or the pandemic trilogy, or even just their own online presence, is starting to pay off. People who don’t even like them know them and feel strongly enough about their work to have an opinion either way, and to express that opinion. That doesn’t happen for bands who don’t matter. Most bands nobody talks about at all. So I took it as a positive, even though it was someone basically being like, “grr here’s a thing on the internet I don’t like so I’m saying I don’t like it.” So it goes.

The Rochester trio have Copenhell and Hellfest to look forward to in addition to Freak Valley in June, more UK/EU shows this Fall, and US festival stops between as they continue to support last year’s Regenerator (review here). They’ve just sent word along the PR wire that their 2013 Demo (review here) will see a one-time limited vinyl pressing and that preorders go up on Friday. I remember when that came out, they were a four-piece and I was stoked because I’d been into Velvet Elvis, in which drummer Scott Donaldson and then-guitarist/vocalist Randall Coon had featured, while guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay and bassist Dan Reynolds had played in Abandoned Buildings Club.

I knew at the time they were a cool band. I’m not sure I knew they’d put themselves at the forefront of American heavy psych rock, or be the kind of act people feel compelled to express opinions about on socials, but when I think (or listen) back to that demo, you can definitely hear the roots of what they would and have become in the decade since it came out. Maybe a fan-piece or a curio, but I’m a fan. I guess I felt like saying so on the internet.

From the band:

king buffalo demo vinyl


DEMO Preorders start THIS FRIDAY 6/2/23 at 12pm EST.

For the first time available on vinyl, our “Demo”! These were the first 3 songs we ever wrote and finally decided to give it a proper pressing on the 10 year anniversary.

THIS IS A ONE TIME PRESSING! After the Test Presses, Deluxe and Standard Editions are sold out, that will be it. THESE SONGS WILL NEVER BE PRESSED ON VINYL AGAIN… EVER!

These songs have been remastered for vinyl with new artwork by Ryan T. Hancock.

1. Pocket Full Of Knife 05:22
2. In Dim Light 06:08
3. Providence Eye 11:15


European Tour 2023

08.6. (DE) Karlsruhe @ P8
09.6. (DE) Nephten @ Freak Valley
10.6. (DE) Leipzig @ UT Connewitz
12.6. (DE) Nurnberg @ Hirsch
14.6. (NL) Groningen @ Vera
15.6. (DK) Copenhagen @ Copenhell
17.6. (FR) Clisson @ Hellfest

17.10. (UK) London @ The Dome
18.10. (UK) Leeds @ Brudenell Social
19.10. (UK) Nottingham @ Bodega
20.10. (UK) Brighton @ The Arch
21.10. (BE) Antwerp @ Desertfest
28.10. (DE) Hamburg @ Lazy Bones Festival

North America Tour

6/28 Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
6/29 Quincy, CA @ High Sierra Festival
8/25 Cleveland, OH @ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
8/26 Lexington, KY @ Expansion Fest
9/23 Austin, TX @ Ripplefest Texas

King Buffalo is:
Sean McVay – Guitar, Vocals, & Synth
Dan Reynolds – Bass & Synth
Scott Donaldson – Drums

King Buffalo, Demo (2013)

King Buffalo, Regenerator (2022)

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Ripplefest Texas 2023: Complete Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I don’t feel the need to even really say anything here. The lineup speaks for itself. And those who go to this year’s RippleFest Texas will also speak of it, for years, probably in a similar way people now talk about having been at this or that Emissions From the Monolith when that was going on in Ohio. The stuff of legend, in other words. Yeah, you can put on a fest and try to make it cool and fun, or you can do something like this and make it the highlight of everybody who attends’ year.

Kudos to Lick of My Spoon Productions and Ripple Music on a job well done. This will be something special. Bands have been leaked out one at a time at intermittent daily intervals, but the final lineup is out as of today, and it’s stunning. A blend of generations, a reach from on end of the country to the other, and a swath of the heavy underground all rallied in one place for a few days, pre- and after-parties included. Fucking a. If you’re attending, count yourself lucky.

As seen on socials:

Ripplefest Texas 2023

Here it is! The full lineup for RippleFest Texas #3! This will be one for the ages with a stacked lineup and lots of special treats in between. Get your tickets now!

Amazing art by @1horsetown

* playing the Pre-Party
+ playing the Afterparty

King Buffalo, Acid King, Brant Bjork Trio, Sasquatch, Wo-Fat, Fatso Jetson, Mondo Generator, Unida, The Well+, The Atomic Bitchwax, Telekinetic Yeti*, Duel, Forming the Void, Hippie Death Cult, High Desert Queen*, Avon, War Cloud, Rubber Snake Charmers, Spirit Mother+, Kind, Nick Oliveri, Thunder Horse, Royal Sons+, Restless Spirit*, (Big) Pig, Fostermother, Dead Feathers+, Rainbows Are Free, Warlung*, Sun Voyager, Red Mesa, Dunes, Tia Carrera+, Mr. Plow, The Heroine*, Michael Rudolph Cummings, The Absurd+, GoodEye*, Red Beard Wall, God Damn Good Time Band+

Plus a “Legends of the Desert and Friends” jam session to close out Saturday night!

And as always, the visuals by The Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show

All-Access passes are SOLD OUT! All we have left are 2 Day Passes and Pre/Afterparty tickets available. Many more bands to be announced! Get your tickets now before the full lineup is revealed and the ticket price goes up!


King Buffalo, “Regenerator” live at Sonic Whip 2023

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Desertfest Belgium 2023 Makes First Lineup Announcement for Antwerp

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2023 antwerp general banner art by Pedro Correa

Some expected names in this first announcement from Desertfest Belgium 2023 in Antwerp — Yawning ManKing BuffaloTruckfighters who seem to be making the rounds all year, etc. — but plenty of unexpected too, with aCarlton Melton returning to Europe, Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple apparently traveling abroad for the first time (new album?), Sourvein returning to road work, REZN heading over to support their killer new record, BlackWater HolyLight, Howling Giant — maybe also their first time in Europe? — Duel getting back over and so on.

As ever, I’m curious to see which of these acts will be on tour, and which with each other, but for now Desertfest Antwerp 2023 looks like a banger in the making. Early-bird tickets sold out in like hours when they were put on sale in February — two months before this first unveiling of band names, mind you — and one expects the sale on weekend tickets to follow suit. I’m not much for the big name on the poster personally, but I recognize I’m in a minority pretty much of myself in that, and from there on I don’t see a clunker in the bunch. Call it a win.

Of course, Desertfest Belgium also helms the Ghent edition. I’m not sure if that will be earlier or later — my guess would be earlier, but maybe the Fall fests spill over to November this year; could happen, wouldn’t be terrible if it did — but for today there’s plenty to dig here as posted by the festival:

desertfest belgium 2023 antwerp first announce

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived! We’re beyond stoked to announce the first round of names for Desertfest Antwerp!

Confirmed for Desertfest Antwerp 2023 are Cult of Luna, Truckfighters, MANTAR, King Buffalo, The Vintage Caravan, Year of no light, Nebula, Yawning Man, Dopelord, The Atomic Bitchwax, DUEL, Siena Root, Blackwater Holylight, Howling Giant, SOURVEIN, Carlton Melton, Heavy Temple, REZN, Margarita Witch Cult.

No doubt, it is going to be another epic version of Desertfest Anywerp!

Reduced Combi formulas are now available here! (as long as they last) :

We’ll be back with more names to add, very soon…

Event page:

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (2021)

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