Sunday 7 June 2015

Live Review: Psycho California, The Observatory, May 15 - 17, (CA)

Looking at the Psycho California line-up for 2015 really looks like a dream come true for any stoner doom fanatic. Three days of pure heavy musical bliss? Who can turn that down!? Naturally, I was eager to see this event go down and Thief did not fail to deliver. As I got to the Observatory in Santa Ana, I could see rockers wearing everything from Saint Vitus to Sleep shirts symbolizing that this music scene was finally making big waves and showing its class on such a grand scale. After checking in and saying hello to the many friends I have made through this music, I got settled to see Radio Moscow first on the main stage. Straight up these guys kick major ass and can get anyone going with their old school style and fantastic punch as a band. The Radio Moscow boys are living proof that the roots of rock n roll are very much alive today. Parker Griggs has an amazing voice that can be compared to some of the greats from back in the day. 

After checking out their set I had some interviews to do and finished in time to see the mighty Conan in action. Conan is just sonic Terror. Ferocity is one way I can describe Conan’s music and hearing it live was just as impressive as when i heard it on record. They played “Hawk as Weapon” and it really made my day. Conan gave a sludgetastic delivery(complete with their signature black hoodies), setting a pretty high standard for the rest of the bands that had to follow up their set. From there I checked out Los Angeles locals Ancient Altar who did the LA scene proud. Paired up with some of the biggest names in the scene today these boys held their own and did the local doom scene proud as their set was representative of the quality and class that Los Angeles has to offer. If you are reading this please check out Ancient Altar as soon as possible, their dual vocal attack is something grand! These dudes destroy! (A special shout out to the Ancient Altar boys).

After a break and some interviews it was time for the legendary Bedemon. Bedemon showed everyone that music is from the soul and no matter what time it is, class is forever. It was only 6pm and the building was going nuts. Everyone who witnessed the set took part in music history. For the first time ever….Bedemon live! Wino is simply a lifer in this music scene and his presence and voice are one of a kind. Mr. Geof O’Keefe was incredible to watch on stage as he jammed with the rest of the band and i felt like he was teaching me how to properly play music. You know when they talk about soul and music? I think it’s safe to say these gentlemen have it. The entire band looked like they were having the time of their lives up there. Big props to Thief for making that happen, it was amazing to have witnessed something so epic that I did in fact, shed some tears. As I explained to Pellet (a behind the scenes hero!) that this entire band and performance was like the scene and progress coming full circle. The vanguard of heavy music present and performing showing us youngsters how it is done.  It is as if an artifact from ancient Egypt was just discovered and has given us more to history to analyze and reflect on. Frank, Greg, Geof and Wino, I must thank you all for the experience. ( I did an interview with Geof of Bedemon as well. Stay tuned for that!).

After a stunning performance by Municipal Waste it was time for Seattle’s Bell Witch. The Duo was just stunning. I saw people crying during their performance. Outside or not, nothing can stop this band from sounding great. Material for their latest album was played and it sounded just as it did on record. Always a great thing when bands can replicate what you hear on record live. Bell Witch are masters of their craft. Cough delivered a devastating performance right after which included new music for those of you who cannot get enough Cough in your lives. Cough always blows me away when I see them live and they sound PERFECT. While I was very tired by the time Cough played, it didn’t matter because they woke me back up! (They played “Crippled Wizard”!!!!)

My favorite performance of the whole festival came from Acid Witch. This band just oozes heavy metal and boy, do they have some of the most badass riffs I have heard in a long time. High energy, great sound and great interaction with the crowd proved to be the routine for these headbangers. Playing great songs such as “Witchfynder Finder”, “Stoned to the Grave”, and “Evil” Acid Witch fucking killed it. Despite being the first band on the main stage that day they still kicked ass and set the mood for the rest of the day. If you have the opportunity to see Acid Witch live, you need to get on that ASAP. This band will always be a favorite of mine. (Shout out to Acid Witch. Thank you for the Interview). Pallbearer stepped up to the plate delivering an intimate and emotionally powerful set. This band just grabs your attention and offers some seriously moving music along with that. Bravo to Pallbearer, at this rate these guys will end up in the doom metal hall of fame as they are simply just that good. Saturday was wrapped up by the mighty sonic titan’s Sleep. What can I say? The guys are living legends and are always a fan favorite. At times some issues with sound mixing occurred but despite all that they left everyone happy. They really got things moving quickly opening with the heavy and powerful “Holy Mountain”. Sleep ended Saturday with a bang.

I was very anxious to see Om. Om was like a religious experience and did not move from where I was standing for their entire set. You know that musical high people talk about? Yeah, I felt that during Om. It was that incredible. Everything was on point and the nature of their music is the kind that captivates everyone in the room. Seriously, Om was that fucking awesome. I had always wanted to see Om live and had really high expectations for them. I can safely say that Om lived up to the hype and gave a damn good show. Everything was in perfect harmony during their set. Drum fills, Bass fills, FILLS FOR DAYS. The whole thing was just special. I will never miss out on Om live ever again! Also representing the Los Angeles Doom metal scene were Doomsters Deathkings. Their music is a journey that can be just as beautiful as it is aggressive. Nick has an very powerful voice that you feel in your chest. Epic and devastating. They killed it. During their set everyone was headbanging in approval. Deathkings just sounded amazing and also made Los Angeles doom metal more than proud! Check out their recent split with Rozamov!

The festival was wrapped up with the legendary Pentagram. After speaking with Bobby Liebling for about 40 mins before the set, I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to see Bobby out there and just work the crowd. Bobby Liebling and Co. just tore the place down. They never disappoint and with their performance everything came full circle. The vanguard of doom metal was on stage and showing everyone how it is done. They played Last Daze Here and man it was just killer. Bobby Liebling still has it! When he performs it is like a lesson and the way he works the crowd is just world class entertainment! This is how it is done folks! I want to thank Pellet Pelletier for the chance to interview Pentagram and Bedemon. This was simply epic! Bobby Liebling is not just a musician to me, he is a teacher.

I always think to myself, “no way can thief beat the last festival they put on” but they just keep delivering quality experiences that as of now are both legendary and one of a kind. When people look back in the future, Psycho California will be remembered forever. This is forever going to be in the history books of heavy music. Thief. Bravo. You guys did it again!

Words by: Frank Heredia