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Psycho California Day 2 recap Sleep, Kylesa, Pallbearer, Earth, Mammatus, The Shrine

8 June 2015 No Comment

Sleep - Psycho California Fest

Psycho California Festival
Day 2 recap
05-16-2015 @ The Observatory
Santa Ana, CA
Photos & Review: Jeff Longo

Doom metal fans from around the globe trekked to Southern California for the third annual Psycho California Festival held at the Observatory in Santa Ana. The three day festival was hosted by Thief Presents who assembled an unprecidented line up of over fifty bands performing across two stages. San Jose stoner metal titans Sleep, 70’s doom pioneers Pentagram, NOLA’s sludge overloads EYEHATEGOD, Savannah Georgia’s psych/sludge Kylesa, Oakland psychedelic trio OM were the more well known acts anchoring each night along with special/rare appearances that made this a truly unique event.

Day 1 Recap/Photos: Eyehategod, Bedemon, Cave-In, Old Man Gloom, Bell Witch, and Municipal Waste
Day 2 Recap/Photos: Sleep, Kylesa, Pallbearer, Earth, and The Shrine
Day 3 Recap/Photos: Pentagram, OM, Truckfighters, Earthless, Bongzilla, Tombs, and The Well

Day 2 Photos:: Sleep
Day 2 Photos:: Kylesa
Day 2 Photos:: Pallbearer
Day 2 Photos:: The Shrine
Day 2 Photos:: Earth

A sense of excitement permeated throughout the Observatory as the crowd packed into the main room for Saturday headliners San Jose stoner doom pioneers Sleep. Thick clouds of weed swelled in the air above the crowd like an approaching storm of feedback laden doom. The lights dimmed as bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros walked onto the stage signaling the start of the set. At first it appeared that Al was tuning his Rickenbacker and the crowd cheered.

Sleep - Psycho California Fest

This quickly went from elation to confusion as Al, channeling his best Andy Kaufman spent the next six minutes, yes six minutes, playing what looked like an entire song on his bass, alone on stage with no sound. This of course went over everyone’s head as they were all completely stoned by this point. Suddenly, cutting through the cloud of fog, the trademark down-tuned guitar of legendary Matt Pike (Sleep, High on Fire) thundered through the room as the power trio launched into 1993 title track Holy Mountain. A sludge drenched, doom masterpiece of Toni Immoni riff worship played at quarter speed, a perfect cadence to the vocal lines “I believe the signs of the reptile master.” and “Look onto the rays of the new stoner sun rising.”

Sleep - Psycho California Fest

A photographer next to me in the photo pit immediately sparked a joint as Matt struck the infamous opening notes from 1996 stoner doom masterpiece Dopesmoker. The hessian warriors belted out the first 21 minutes of the 72 minute opus, subtitled Proceeds the Weedian (Nazareth), centered around a variation of the same riff, which tells the tale of a stoner caravan exploring space and time through marijuana. Arguably the best opening lyrics of all time “Drop out of life with bong in hand / follow the smoke toward the riff filled land.”

Sleep - Psycho California Fest

The near two hour set was an all out audio assault of stoner doom. Sonic Titan was next and lived up to it’s name followed by their newest track The Clarity which sounded amazing live. The crowd went full bananas as the bouncy riff of Dragonaut shook the building as the entire venue did a collective head bang singing along with Al as he chanted hymns of doom instructing us to “Ride the dragon toward the crimson eye.” An epic set turned legendary when following blistering renditions of Aquarian and From Beyond, the trio seamlessly slipped into the last song of the night, Cultivator Improved Morris (I don’t know what the hell that means) a.k.a. the last 14 minutes of Dopesmoker! I stumbled out of the venue completely satisfied and exhausted.
Check out our photos of Sleep here

If not for scene legends Sleep, Savannah Georgia Sludge lords Kylesa, who provided Saturday’s main support, could have easily headlined above all the bands on the three day festival. I last saw Kylesa years ago when they played on a bill with High on Fire and Torche in San Francisco and only casually followed them since, big mistake. The majority of the thirteen song set bounced between classics from Static Tensions (2009 Prosthetic Records) and Spiral Shadow (2010 Season of Mist) and would have been worth the price of admission alone. However, selections Long Gone and Unspoken from 2013’s Ultraviolet (Season of Mist) showcased how far their sound has evolved, clearly enhancing their trademark thundering low-end sludge with melodic, multi-layered psychedelic rock. Video projections throughout the set ranged from close ups of Dr Who (Peter Davidson the fifth Dr.) and a cat to psychedelic images and a shirtless Asian dude dancing in his underwear. All of which were totally entertaining.
Check out our photos of Kylesa here

When I entered the merch area on Saturday afternoon a table was set up for The Shrine. Huh? First off they were not on the bill and secondly, much like Municipal Waste, their style of music was counter to the doom template of the weekend. After choppin’ in up with vocalist/guitarist Josh Landau, he revealed the self proclaimed “destroyers of rock n’ roll” were added a the last minute, I guess since they are based in Los Angeles, and were going on in 20 mins outside in the courtyard. Fuck yes! I immediately adjusted my schedule posting up front.

At 7:30pm The Shrine kicked off with Trippin Corpse sparking a mosh pit forcing me against the ankle high stage, as a fan jumped on stage the dived over my head into the crowd. Fuck yes part II! In between songs Josh cracked a tallboy PBR, when a guy next me shouted if he could have a sip, without hesitation Josh replied “I’ll split it with you,” and handed him his can of suds. Wow, that was pretty cool. Like yesterday, The Shrine’s fast tempo punk infused thrashed out skate rock supplied a jolt of energy and an unexpected surprise in a weekend full of surprises.
Check out our photos of The Shrine here

I cut out on the last couple songs of the Shrine to catch media darlings Pallbearer on the mainstage. Underground metal fans and critics alike latched on to the quartet from Little Rock, Arkansas. Their debut release Sorrow and Extinction (2010 Profound Lore) took the scene by storm landing on several publications year-end best-of lists. This carried over with sophomore release Foundations of Burden (2014 Profound Lore). While I stayed for only half the set, I can see why they have such a large following. A heavy dose of doom and the crowd loved them. Catch them on tour with High on Fire in the summer.
Check out our photos of Pallbearer here

Next up on the main stage was minimalistic three piece drone metal band Earth from Olympia Washington lead by Dylan Carlson along with Bill Herzog on bass and Adrienne Davies on drums. I am only casually aware of Earth and this was my first time seeing them or really listening to them. This is a drone band and by definition revel in repetition with each song ending the same way it began: a drone on a chord that never varied from tempo or melody – absent of climax or variation. While I can appreciate the approach it was a little too repetitive to hold my attention for longer than a few minutes. Earth droned through the majority of their hour long set set with four songs from their latest release Primitive and Deadly (2014 Southern Lord). Adding a couple of “old ones”, much to the crowds delight, including The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (2008 Southern Lord) from the album of the same name, closing with High Command off 1996 Sub Pop release Pentastar: In the Style of Demons. Dylan is probably most known for his connection & friendship with Kurt Cobain, purchasing the gun for Kurt days before he used it to kill himself, he also appeared in the film “Kurt & Courtney”.
Check out our photos of Earth here

Mammatus

Mammatus

Santa Cruz prog-space rock trio Mammatus was an unexpected surprise. These guys play a very unique mix of what they call “”Post Wizard New Mage Far Out Casual,” yeah. If you like your metal heavy with some psychedlic check them out. They just finished recording their fourth album due out later this year but you can check out Heady Mental (2013 Spiritual Pajamas) now.

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Day 1 Recap/Photos: Eyehategod, Bedemon, Cave-In, Old Man Gloom, Bell Witch, and Municipal Waste
Day 2 Recap/Photos: Sleep, Kylesa, Pallbearer, Earth, and The Shrine
Day 3 Recap/Photos: Pentagram, OM, Truckfighters, Earthless, Bongzilla, Tombs, and The Well

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