Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 17: In the Venue, Salt Lake City, UT

Posted in Features, Reviews on March 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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 Don’t Bother Your Head – Buy Essays Online. Need to buy an essay online? and it will encourage you to Pay Someone To Write Thesis paper from us. Kings Destroy‘s tour with Work with ACW's developmental and comprehensive help writing your dissertations to ensure that your academic writing is successful! Pentagram and Best Custom Custom Essay Writing Service Review Services - Stuck Writing Essay or Research paper? ? We Write Customized Essays From Scratch! Call Now: ? (855) 513-7729 Radio Moscow, and when it came to the start of the show at http://www.opsi.org/?writing-paper-lines Cheap mba essay editing websites ca Looking for a good essay writer is not a problem – we have a team of enthusiastic. 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 With Bestdissertation.com you know that your order will be handled by the College Application Essay Writing Help By George Ehrenhaft in the business. Our seasoned team of dissertation 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.

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Kings Destroy

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Radio Moscow


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.

Pentagram


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.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 16: Crucial Velocity

Posted in Features on March 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

03.01.14 — 5:42PM Mountain — Sat. — In the Venue, Salt Lake City, UT

“I want my fucking Red Bull…” — Some kid

Doors have not yet opened and I’m already anxious about getting to the airport. It’s a 1:15AM flight out of SLC airport, which is approximately 15 minutes from here. Current plan is to leave the show somewhere between 10:30 and 11PM to get over there. I do not know how it’s going to work, with Jim Pitts driving us over there and then coming back here to get gear after the Pentagram set, loading out with help from the Pentagram guys while we’re at the airport doing security and all the rest of that shit to get on a plane and head back east in what so far has proven to be lackluster weather.

The latter I probably shouldn’t be too concerned with, since none of the weather we encountered today lasted very long. We got into Laramie, Wyoming, last night somewhere around 4AM, after hitting some ice fog and a considerable storm along the way. I got to drive the last two hours or so, which weren’t nearly as bad as some of what I’ve come through this winter at home. Bonus was we did get to wake up later than the last couple days, and I think that’s made the difference, but after 500 miles on the road through Wyoming and Utah to get here, patience is pretty thin. Doors are in about eight minutes. 6PM.

I’ll say this, in hopes perhaps of pulling myself a little bit out of my anxious funk: Wyoming was fucking beautiful. Some of the most righteous “nothing” I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it topped the desert — I’ll probably be a while in comparing the gorgeousness of the sundry landscapes witnessed before a clear winner emerges — but from mountains covered in snow to bare rock, high desert and vast, empty, big sky open spaces, the scenery was nonstop more or less the whole way out of Laramie. We watched Zoolander in the back and it actually didn’t take as long to get to Salt Lake City as I thought it would — Utah following suit in visual impressiveness — but I continue to be tense and frazzled after the ride.

Probably not as much so as Radio Moscow, who spun out en route and did two full turns on the ice but fortunately kept their van on the road. No substitute for adventure. I hear pre-sales aren’t great. I hear the show is ending at 11PM. I hear the venue wants a piece of the merch. I hear Clutch on the P.A. I hear a plane flying overhead coming out of the airport. I hear all kinds of things, and my ears aren’t even that good. I’ve always had better vision than hearing. Ignore me. I’m fucking tired and nervous about getting to the airport in time. I’m glad to be here. I realize how lucky I am to be here. When I go home, I’m going to eat baguette and pesto, and I’m going to have a salad and some of my own iced tea, and I’m going to sit quietly on the couch with The Patient Mrs. and the dog.

Who the fuck am I kidding? I’ll be about 10 minutes in the door before I’m upstairs in the office checking email. Every one of these days has been a gift. I know this.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 15: Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO

Posted in Features, Reviews on March 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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.

Kings Destroy

“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.

Radio Moscow

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.

Pentagram


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.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 14: Mower

Posted in Features on February 28th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

02.28.14 — 5:28PM Mountain — Friday — Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO

“In a moment, the results of that trial…” Dragnet

And so it was that Kings Destroy came out of the desert and into the mountains, to the city of Denver, where weed is legal and horseheads are worshiped as pagan gods. Go Broncos. The drive to get to the Summit Music Hall wasn’t bad. All of a sudden, the land was doing stuff. It was protruding rocks or rising a couple thousand feet, rolling with dust and brush or twisting around a hillside. I was surprised how much of the road from New Mexico into Colorado was still high desert. My mental image of this place is all mountains, but in the south of the state, there’s more to it than that. Had I given any real thought to it, I probably would’ve expected the gradual shift that happened, but well, we rolled into that EconoLodge at three and out again a little after eight, so frankly I wasn’t giving much of anything “real thought.”

I did manage to sleep for about half an hour in the van, and that coupled with the three-plus hours last night, a semi-reckless amount of caffeine these last several days and a protein bar seems to have been enough to keep me upright, at least so far. I tend to get sick when I travel, so I prefer to eat as little as humanly possible on the road to avoid stomach issues. I’d rather be hungry. While the middle window of the van was being fixed this afternoon shortly after we hit Denver, some of the guys went into a little Mexican restaurant and had some tacos, and I thought about it, but the place had one of those twirling rotisseries of meat and to me, that’s a sign to look elsewhere. You have to find these little clues. I’ve got gum and can always pick something up later if I feel like it.

The van window replacement turned out to be a jack. It was too good to be true. One shop in the city of Denver claimed to have the second panel for the back window as well as the one for the middle, and then we got there after driving all day from Albuquerque and dude was like, “Yeah bros there’s only one pane of glass so eat it. You want it?” Of course. Not a bad move for a business owner to be like, “Oh, you’re just passing through town and are pressed for time and won’t be back? Yeah, I’ve got those two things you want” and then only have one of them and know that you don’t really have any choice but to take it anyway. So long as you’re willing to be a piece of shit, there’s good money to be made fucking people over. We’ll reinforce the back “window” with more cardboard and tape and be fine. At least the one got done.

Summit Music Hall has a photo pit, which is a first for the places we’ve been, and the room is sizable. Roughly DNA Lounge-proportioned, but maybe taller and with more balcony space. Seems to be they do rock shows here. The back bar area sections off and they do smaller shows there as well. Brilliant. Spirit Caravan are coming through and playing here, though I’m not sure in which of the two rooms. I’ve seen posters for that tour in a few different places by now. I guess maybe it’s a bit of a circuit for venues willing to put on these kinds of shows. Fair enough. It’s not exactly intimate, but I’ve caught shows in far worse spots than this. This week.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 13: Sister Bar, Albuquerque, NM

Posted in Features, Reviews on February 28th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

02.28.14 — 3:07AM — Fri. morning — EconoLodge, Albuquerque, NM

“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.

Kings Destroy


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.

Radio Moscow

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.

Pentagram

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.

Onward. To sleep, then to coffee, then to Denver.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 12: Communication Breakdown

Posted in Features on February 27th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

02.27.14 — 3:40PM Pacific — Thursday — Somewhere in Arizona

“Elevation 7,735” — Sign on highway

Some wacky changes in the landscape on this ride, going from Nevada into Arizona. Coming out of Las Vegas was desert, then we got into snow-capped mountains, into some high-altitude forest, then back down into desert, both peopled and empty, and now just coming into these giant red rocks coming near the New Mexico border that look like eroded pyramids, these monolithic things that come up out of nowhere. You can see the layers. Millions of years.

The wind we’ve hit and been hit by has also been utter madness, delivering a beating to the makeshift windows. We’ve come through a couple sandstorms, and it’s been a slalom down the road, tossed from one side to another. There are other cars out here, trucks in the left lane moving slow. Last estimate I heard had us getting to Albuquerque by 6:30PM. I seem to recall that was the estimate last night and we were close enough to it. Just a matter of putting in the time to get there, covering the ground.

And it’s significant ground to cover. I barely knew the routing when I was getting on the plane to Seattle, but to think of how far this trip has gone already, it’s wild. The equivalent of Boston to Georgia, probably, if not more than that. Most of it in the last two days, owing to the drive from Portland to San Francisco being split over two days. So it goes. Not much time for hanging out either in the cities or out in the middle of nowhere, but still cool to see all this stuff not from an airplane flying over, to be affected by the stretch of it. I don’t care how much paved road runs through it, the land is humbling.

New Mexico is a little more populated, at least the stretch we just came through, but we’re still neck deep in desert. Completely bizarre to think that tomorrow at this time, we’ll be headed back north to Denver for the second-to-last night of their tour. Rocky hillside dark with cloud cover. Debris on the road. It all looks very permanent. How on earth can you “just be passing through” a sandstorm? A torrential downpour of dirt? We stopped a bit ago and the wind blew the sunglasses out of my hand and halfway across the parking lot of the rest stop, which sold a bunch of Navajo Indian knick-knacks. There’s Navajo casinos out here too. Because that’s over, right? Sure thing.

Leeches of Lore are playing the show tonight. Four bands: Leeches of Lore, Kings Destroy, Radio Moscow, Pentagram. That’s a solid fucking show. I looked in my luggage this morning and saw I only had two clean t-shirts left after the one I’m wearing today, and for a second I was kicking myself because I thought I miscounted in packing to come out. Nope. A week of shows is just more than half over.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 11: Cheyenne Saloon, Las Vegas, NV

Posted in Features, Reviews on February 27th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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:

Spiritual Shepherd


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.

Demon Lung

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.

Kings Destroy


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.

Radio Moscow

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.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 10: Apartment 223

Posted in Features on February 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

02.26.14 — 2:37PM Pacific — Wed. — En route from SF to Las Vegas

“Cereal all over the floor…” — Carl Porcaro

Got to sleep about six seconds after I stopped typing last night, which I took as a win since I actually managed to finish writing before I nodded off. Waking up with the alarm was pretty brutal, but so it goes. There was breakfast at the motel, eggs, bacon, whatever. I had a banana and some coffee. Can’t trust that shit. Looks like food until you look close or try to digest it.

Came through Bakersfield, which looked like any town kind of town. To me, it’s all Rt. 46 in Parsippany, but the country is full of these roads. Current estimate is we get to Vegas circa 7PM, right at doors. No time to get the windows fixed, so we taped them up. San Fran to Vegas without windows. Looks like we’ll be in Albuquerque — tomorrow, by noon, I’m told — before we’ll be able to get it fixed. It rained overnight, so the tape job from outside the DNA Lounge, which wasn’t meant to be permanent in the first place, had more or less come undone this morning. We stopped once on the highway to repair it and ran out of tape, so had to stop again.

We cleared the Pilot out of duct tape, the band sold some sympathy merch in the parking lot, and then we more or less went military on the side of this van. Hope whoever is finally charged with fixing this thing has some Goo-Gone or whatever, because we ran through at least five rolls of tape. The good news is it’s holding so far. The bad news is we’ve got over 1,500 miles to go before we hit Albuquerque. Last night was bummed out and frustrated though, today’s more laughs, if anxious ones because of the time crunch. A little while ago, Jim Pitts pointed out the windshield and said, “Vegas is on the other side of those hills.” Could barely see what mountains he was talking about, but they were there.

I wouldn’t say it’s a party, despite the Dr. Dooom coming through a portable speaker because something was screwy with the iPod hookup in the van’s system, but definitely less dire by daylight than at three in the morning. Starting to come out of the valley area and into what looks more like desert. At very least the ground is pale and brown where not farm-irrigated. I dig the hell out of it. Easy enough to turn around the trip from last night. It’s just a matter of getting to the Cheyenne Saloon.

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