What: Power of the Riff
Where: The Echo and Echoplex
Better than: Listening to records and smoking pot in your mom's basement.
The Power of the Riff at The Echo and Echoplex was a study in logistics: 19 bands, 2 stages, 1 day. Put on by Southern Lord, the gathering featured an assortment of heavy bands from across several genres. Groups played on both stages simultaneously, and attendees could always find something great going on.
The Echo stage kicked off at noon, the Echoplex at 2:30, and by 4 there were healthy crowds at both stages. The early acts were all solid; many early arrivers were looking forward to seeing Early Graves with their new singer, John Strachan, news of which we broke last week.
The smaller Echo was considerably more crowded, and though all the acts were good, the best was probably Black Breath. They had the highest energy by far, clearly ignoring posted signs prohibiting stage diving and crowd surfing. They closed out The Echo stage with an explosive, primal set.
The larger Echoplex often lacked the same level of energy, though it never lacked a crowd. Acephalix was probably the biggest surprise. Despite having one of the earlier set times, they had a large and enthusiastic crowd. At one point a man was ejected from the group, landing flat on his back, though the staff assisted him and he appeared to be ok. As expected, Trap Them was a highlight on the non-headlining portion of the bill.
Shortly after 7, when Pelican went on, the mood began to change. Their proggy-stoner sound was very unlike the thrash and hardcore sounds of earlier. They were like your second-to-last bird in Angry Birds, the fatal crack foretelling the collapse of the fortress. The final push was New York's doom metal outfit Winter, who droned their way through an artful, hour-long set. At times, they pounded on the bass so hard it felt as if somebody was bumping into you.
Eyehategod and Pentagram reviews below.
Folks were divided over who they were more excited about: New Orleans' Eyehategod or Virginia's Pentagram. Though the two bands shared a space backstage, their performances made them seem like polar opposites. EHG demanded the lights be turned down, while Pentagram demanded they be turned up. (Their guitarist even yelled, “Turn on the fucking lights!” into the mic at one point.) EHG played a slow, droning set while Pentagram played their '70s heavy-as-iron tunes. In our hearts, however, Pentagram had the superior set.
Overheard: A man in sharp Adidas shoes, fitted new black jeans and a denim vest: “Yeah, well, I meditate dude.”
Woman walks by, wearing shirt revealing her bra, which has decorative straps above her bust.
Guy 1: How does it hold her boobs up if the bra part is on top?
Guy 2: Oh those were fake, so, you know, she probably doesn't need a bra anyway cause they'll stay up no matter what.
Notebook dump: By the end of the night there were several miserable individuals with toilette paper shoved in their ears. Note: Hearos High Fidelity ear plugs save the day; they dull the volume without enormous sacrifice to the sound.
Pentagram set list below.