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Psycho California Day 3 Recap Pentagram OM Earthless Bongzilla Truckfighters The Well Tombs

16 June 2015 No Comment

Psycho California Festival
Day 3 recap
05-17-2015 @ 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 unprecedented 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 3 Photos:: Pentagram
Day 3 Photos:: OM
Day 3 Photos:: Earthless
Day 3 Photos:: Bongzilla
Day 3 Photos:: Truckfighters
Day 3 Photos:: The Well
Day 3 Photos:: Tombs

Closing out the festival was 70’s cult pioneers Pentagram. Making their second appearance at the festival performing ‘First Daze Here’ (2001 Relapse Records) in its entirety. Lead by the iconic Bobby Liebling aka Dr. Doom, who spent the last few decades in a haze of his own, a man barely alive addicted for years to heroin & crack and doomed to obscurity but with the help of Sean ‘Pellet’ Pelletier, was able to resurrect his life and ultimately his career. Check out award winning film “Last Days Here” for the full story.

When Pentagram took the stage the packed house went nuts. I was a little disappointed that original members Geof O’Keefe and Greg Mayne, who played on Friday with Bedemon, didn’t take part in the set but it was cool seeing Geof in the crowd rocking to every song. Bobby is clearly at home on the stage and looked like he was having a great time. His adorning fans ate up every minute of the hour and half set as Bobby strutted his skinny little body all over the stage while striking outrageous poses and flashing his trademark wide eyed, Manson lamps.

After the closer Bobby addressed the crowd about drinking and driving before declaring “unless you’re me, you can’t talk to the dead,” and for what it’s worth I believed him. The rest of the band re-joined him ripping into Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram), the first of a three song encore that also included Dying World and Relentless. Much like the Bedemon set, it was awesome to see these guys perform songs they recorded forty years ago that played a huge role in birthing an entire genre of music we today call doom. An awesome ending to an amazing weekend.
Check out more photos of Pentagram here

OM is not a doom band, at least not today. Formed in 2003 by the rhythm section of Sleep, vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius, whose first three studio albums (Variations on a Theme, Conference of the Birds, and Pilgrimage) were pure bass/drum stoner doom, however in 2009 Emil Amos (Grails) replaced Hakius and later multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Low joined the fold adding texture and color to the rhythm duo as cello, sitar, tambura, violin, flute, were added creating a beautiful blend of lush psychedelic awesomeness.

The stage was bathed in a dark blue lighting scheme as Arabic chants filled the room for opener Sinai (2012’s Advaitic Songs) that features a hypnotic drum/bass groove beautifully accented by Robert Low’s vocal and keyboard work.

Rocking a full neck beard these days front man Al Cisneros resembled a level-50 dark wizard casting spells of psychedelic doom-groove. Al goes into a trance like state when performing with his eyes rolled back in his head, rocking back and forth while occasionally chanting mystical, mysterious shit like ‘Ezekiel saw the wheel’ and absorbing (and re-absorbing) mountains and Priests Ascending in Lebanon. The set was culled from 2009’s God Is Good and 2012’s Advaitic Songs (Drag City Records). Meditation is the Practice of Death is an amazing song but really comes to life in a live setting. Robert Low is totally entertaining to watch as he flips his tambourine wildly in the air while adding insanely high pitched vocal melodies that perfectly compliment Al’s chanting vocal style.
Check out more photos of OM here

Out here in the perimeter there are no stars, no beginning, no end, only Earthless. Easily confused, in name only, with Seattle drone trio Earth who are entirely absent of climax or variation, the San Diego instrumental power rock trio Earthless is all climax, a sonic explosion from start to finish of guitar riffs & improvisation. What I witnessed was an intense, unrestrained performance lead by frontman Isaiah Mitchell who basically masturbated for close to an hour stroking his 50’s soft “V” stratocaster ejaculating solo after solo, while drummer Mario Rubalcaba (OFF!,Rocket From the Crypt) and bassist Mike Eginton basically provided the lubrication. No foreplay here just an all out sonic bombardment of Hendrix infused guitar porn that was all money shot. Check out their latest release From the Ages (2013 Tee Pee Records).
Check out more photos of Earthless here

One of the bands we were really looking forward to seeing was a rare appearance by Chicago blackened sludge nihilists Indian. Unfortunately, a couple weeks before the festival Indian posted a brief message: “Indian has come to the point where we can no longer be a band,” canceling all scheduled shows including Pyscho California. A major blow but the guys over at Thief Presents circled the wagons and booked a very suitable replacement – stoner doom legends Bongzilla.

Bongzilla recently reformed the 2002 Gateway lineup featuring Muleboy, Spanky, Cooter Brown, and Magma. Sadly, legend “Dixie” Dave Collins (Weedeater, Buzzov*en, Sourvein), who joined the band for their final & most successful album Amerijuanican (2005 Relapse Records), wasnt part of this this particular reunion. This didn’t seem to bother the fans that packed the main stage for their early afternoon set. Ceremoniously Bongzilla took the stage and front-man Muleboy immediately sparked a giant doobie while the crowd roared in approval. Smoking most of it between the band before handing it to a very happy fan in the front row to finish, which she did. What else would you expect from a band whose entire catalog is based on their love for the sticky icky? Sludgy riffs with Sabbath-esque solos dedicated to weed worship as the faithful toked away to hilarious songs Keefmaster, Green Thumb, Witch Master, Hashdealer, and Grim Reefer. You don’t weed to enjoy Bongzilla but sure does help.
Check out more photos of Bongzilla here


Swedish Fuzz Monsters Truckfighters are one of those bands that carry a ton of word of mouth hype and after their wild set on Sunday afternoon all I can say is believe the hype. A three piece of stoner rock fury that pack more fuzz than your filthy lint trap. Scene legend Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age) called them “the best band that’s ever existed,” appearing on the band’s 2011 “fuzzomentry” simply titled Truckfighters. Their set was a non-stop barrage of desert rock with Ozo (vocals/bass) and Enzo (drums) rocking the back-line, while guitarist Dango, bearded and wild eyed, jumped around the stage like a man possessed. An hour of fuzzed out big riff stoner rock highlighted by the epic Desert Cruiser (2005 Gravity X) and new tracks Mind Control & The Chairman (2014 Universe).
Check out more photos of Truckfighters here

On the side stage I was able to catch about 10 minutes of Austin progressive power rock trio The Well and I’m glad I did. The well is Ian Graham, Lisa Alley, and Jason Sullivan. Their debut album Samsara is out now on Riding Easy Records. If you like heavy rock and massive riffs look no further.
Check out more photos of The Well here

New York blackened doom band Tombs performing on the main stage. Check out their latest release Savage Gold released in 2014 on Relapse Records.
Check out more photos of Tombs here

TOP OF PAGE

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

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