As I woke up in the morning I knew that I was in for a real show today. The first time I would be attending a festival that is similar in fashion to a European metal festival, the bands on this bill being front runners of doom, sludge and stoner. Travelling with my friend Hugo we were united in our hunger for heavy music, as we made our trip to the observatory in
. Santa Ana
Arriving early to the venue, I was treated well by the staff and security and soon enough I was in contact with Jeff Owens from Goya. During our chat I began to notice the bands starting to roll in with vans and trucks filled with gear. Various people had arrived early and were dressed in 1970’s fashion. It seemed like some real dedicated fans were here and it made things better. After another chat with
doomsters, Windhand I headed inside to catch first band I was eager to see. Virginia
As I entered the Creeper stage,
Southern California’s own Trapped Within Burning Machinery was setting up. Soon enough they began their relentless and heavy sonic assault, the crowd banging their heads in unison and approval. Heavy with both emotion and darkness their set was very special. The band sounded perfect, very tight and when the three guitarists of the band played together in harmony it hit me in a way I had never felt before. Their music is somewhat of an epic journey, the songs seem to have a climax of emotion. According to their front man Zak, most of the material was new and unreleased, so we should be awaiting new record from Trapped.. with some anticipation. For me, it was my favorite set of the day, an underrated band full of passion.
Next up were. Arizona Stoner Doom band, Goya. I had been waiting for quite a while to see this band live, as they have been making waves online with their revered debut album ‘777’. Having interviewed them earlier in the day I was already excited to see them play, indeed when they began with their track ‘Rites of Hashage’, I was very pleased. Goya is a band that holds a special place in my heart as they influence my own music. Finally ending with ‘Night Creeps’, Goya wrapped up their set and had the crowd going. Everything during their set came together and they did not disappoint. As a fan and reviewer, Goya are killer band, I promptly bought as much merch as I could from their merch table after their set. (I was so excited I forgot to get it signed). A massive shout out to their Bass player who joined the band at short notice for this tour, he played very well and helped me with some issues earlier in the day. If you get the chance to check this band live, make sure you do! (Thanks to Jeff for taking my request)
A few bands and drinks later it was time for Bongripper. Making their first West Coast appearance, the crowd was eager to hear their monolithic doom sound hit the PA. During their set, it felt as if time had slowed down and suddenly it felt hard to move around, feeling every kick from the drums in my chest. Bongripper played the track ‘Satan’ from their modern classic Satan Worshiping Doom album. This track felt even heavier in person than it did on record. Bongripper played an excellent set and I wish for a swift return to
in the future. Shout out to Dennis from Bongripper, we had a funny conversation after the set. (Expect something in the mail you madman!) California
Eventually Windhand’s set came around after a rockin’ set from Elder (It is worth noting that Elder sounded incredible, their guitar tone was so clear and when leads were played it sounded perfect. Gear heads would be envious everywhere). Windhand had released their
with Salems Pot at this show and even played the track from said split ‘Forest Clouds’. This is the first time I have heard Windhand with Dorthia voice being audible, usually the sound guys bury her voice into the mix, but she sounded incredible this evening. Ending the set with a very emotional finish, Windhand had killed it as they usually do; this band is one of the primary showcase bands of the scene in my opinion. Watching them on stage is somewhat mesmerizing; their blend of heavy music is very emotional and dark. They never disappoint me. (Much love to Garrett and Dorthia, especially Dorthia for being so helpful and nice) Split
Weedeater followed and Dixie Dave and Co really delivered. After a few funny words from Dave, the band played and pretty much had everyone going. Weedeater is a band who have secured a legendary status, playing the great ‘Hammer handle’ and their cover of ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’, Weedeater destroyed their set and towards the end Dixie Dave destroyed an amplifier which was giving him trouble throughout the set. It seems that the SVT model Ampeg is quite problematic when used for a long time, not very durable perhaps? Bravo to Weedeater, they really killed it and pleased the crowd.
Red Fang of course need no introduction and straight up brought the party. A band that really has an accessible sound; the boys from Red Fang always get people going and are a headliner wherever they go for that reason. To put it simply they’re a good time band.
Overall this is the best festival I have ever attended. It makes me excited to feel that festivals such as this will be happening in future, because Doom metal is fast cementing its place with authority in today’s heavy metal world. Other sub genres are going to need to play catch up at this rate! Final shout outs to ‘Thief’ for putting this all together, thank you for the invitation and a great festival.
Words by: Frank Heredia