Day two of Psycho California had arrived and I was full of energy for the day ahead even after only a couple hours of sleep. There is something so comforting to my senses being among a crowd of black denim clad folk. I was in high spirits and ready for the onslaught of sound rolling my way.
After spending some time catching up with friends, old and new, I headed over to the Grizzly Stage to watch Highlands. These California natives were on the top of my list for bands to see. Their dreamy psychedelic stone/gaze sound was soothing to my ears after all the distortion from the day before. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Holmes’ brassy vocals are like the light at the end of the tunnel guiding you through Highlands’ ethereal, yet heavy, soundscapes. Those lucky enough to catch their performance had the opportunity to see talent that will be heard loud and clear in no time at all.
It was time to come down from my cloud, however, and head over to the Monarch Stage to see the always amped heavy rockers Electric Citizen. Drummer Nate Wagner kicked off the show by lighting a joint and passing it around into the crowd. Everyone was ready for the body grooving rock n’ roll that was about to commence as soon as vocalist Laura Dolan grabbed her mic. Electric sex was oozin’ from each hip swivel as Dolan made her way across the stage. This was to be easily one of the most lively sets of the weekend giving this four piece major rock star appeal.
Afterward, Mammatus slowed the pace down a bit on the main stage. There was a quiet anticipation within the crowd as they waited to be taken to an altered dimension of noise with this heavy hitting trio. The spacey landscapes were amplified with insane guitar leads that led to them lighting up the room as the pace progressively got faster. The instrumentation was smooth and the sound a manifestation to the name.
News was spreading throughout the venue that The Shrine was to be making a surprise appearance on the outdoor stage. Bringing together all the good parts of bands like Black Sabbath, Motorhead and Black Flag, I had no doubt that it was going to be one of hell of a show. And from what I heard, it was.
However, I chose to make my way over to the Grizzly Stage to see the Texas trio, True Widow. This stonegaze band was another must see for the weekend and I knew they wouldn’t disappoint. DH Phillips stole my heart, as always, with his almost psychedelic croon, while ever-beautiful bassist/vocalist Nicole Estill and drummer Slim TX helped take me to greater heights. Being bathed in their electric euphoria left me feeling refreshed and elated to be part of it all.
Remaining in that heightened state, I glided my way through the crowd just in time to catch Pallbearer. The four-piece from Little Rock, Arkansas, has a big sound to boast about. Not only that, but the vocals are out-of-this-world. Vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell has an impeccable voice box. Even during the sound check, I felt moved by listening to his voice soar from low to high. Once they started playing, it was as if the entire room hushed. An hour long set felt like a blissful eternity while each of us ascended into an unknown realm. Their ability to incorporate the melodies both vocally and instrumentally contribute to what make this band so amazing.
I was riding high on this ethereal cloud of sound and didn’t want to come down. And luckily I didn’t have to because drone metal legends Earth were set to take the stage next. Guitarist/founder Dylan Carlson took the stage and was warm with the crowd while he introduced the set. The dynamic trio led us on a musical journey through a deserted terrain of distortion and noise. Being able to witness drummer Adrienne Davies timing firsthand was inspiring. She makes the heart of the musical body pump with such precision and grace; I could only wonder where her own mind was taking her. Time seemed to pass by within one breath and Earth set to close the set with High Command from their Pentastar: In the Style of Demons release.
Still not quite ready to come out of my droney daze, I walked in and out of Kylesa’s set not quite in the state of mind to change paces. That being said, the notable sludge metal group still put on a great show with bassist Chase Rudeseal taking center stage. Each time I came back to the main stage, Rudeseal was all over drawing the crowd in for more.
The end of the evening was finally upon us and my adrenaline was coursing through my veins with the anticipation of seeing the stoner doom metal gods Sleep. I was so giddy, I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to jump around and kiss my peers in excitement which proved to be quite the opposite of the other festival goers around me getting lost in their cannabis haze.
Legendary vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros was first out on stage. Barricaded by a wall of Orange amps, we watched as Cisneros silently began playing his bass. This went on for at least five minutes where he journeyed off into the still vacancy between time and space. Everything became spiritual for me at the moment watching him in front of this massive crowd, creating his music in silence. To quote Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,” Cisneros appeared to be the pure embodiment of the inexpressible in those few moments. Shortly after, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Jason Roeder joined the stage and everything and everyone fell into an ocean of low-end distortion. Time stood still as they played for almost two hours, going well over their original time slot, and everyone was grateful. The crowd was enraptured with the sound and I happily fell into the weight of my body heaving against the sludgy waves of all that is Sleep.
Other notable bands from day two:
More Photos From Psycho California: Day 2
Collaborative write-up: Vana Black and Jon Christensen
Photo Credit: Vana Black