By Andrew Bansal
August 14th 2015, Bombay Bar & Grill, Ventura CA: Gygax is a fantasy-themed rock ‘n roll entity comprising a group of immensely talented local Ventura legends and former Los Angeles champions, and was founded after the demise of Gypsyhawk. Having played their first ever live show at this year’s Schiedeck Music Festival in June, Gygax made their proper hometown debut at Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura last Friday August 14 2015, with Ojai CA rock quartet Pleasure and Los Angeles rock ‘n roll newcomers Others. Ventura’s true rock ‘n roll supporters were in attendance, and based on the level of impact Gypsyhawk made with a mere two-album catalog and a shortlived five-year existence as a band, much of the same and beyond was expected from Gygax.
Others opened the show and started proceedings at 10:15 with a 30-minute set I choose not to review their set because in case any of you readers aren’t aware, I am now working stage lights at their shows, and as a member of their crew, I would find it to be a conflict of interest if I were to review them.
At 11 PM, Gygax hit the stage and got into their groove straightaway, putting on a rock ‘n roll exhibition of epic proportions. The biggest question in the minds of Gypsyhawk fans is how does Gygax’ music compare, and the simple answer is, it’s more melodic, more classic rock, but still retains the distinctive singing voice of frontman Eric Harris who seems to have carried on from where he left, as if he never went away. The same can be said about this group as a whole, with their chemistry shining on stage to such a great extent that it looked and sounded like they’ve been playing together for decades, not months.
Gygax’ original tunes had the crowd head-banging and boogieing throughout the set, and it reached its peak when they played covers of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. Taking into consideration the devout Thin Lizzy worship Eric Harris portrayed in Gypsyhawk, it’s a surprise that he never played any Thin Lizzy covers with that band, but based on the performance of these covers last night, one simply cannot imagine a better frontman to pay tribute to the greatness of Phil Lynott, and a better band to play Thin Lizzy tunes. But, Gygax’ musical prowess is certainly more evident in their own tunes. Bryant and Armand were effortlessly supreme on guitar and kept their energy levels high, while Justin on the drums was the architect of the band’s relentlessly solid groove. Gygax’ lyrical content is fantasy-themed which has naturally resulted in an impressive t-shirt design, but aside from the artwork in the stage backdrop, the show itself was all about the music, as it should be.
Gygax lived up to expectations and then some. D&D R&R forever.
And lastly, Pleasure brought the evening to a soothing end with some pristine rock jams emanating from their all-Fender forefront. The guitar and bass tones were exemplary and the drumming was exceptional, and although the set was mostly instrumental jam-oriented, the vocals fit in excellently whenever they came in. The quality of the musicianship put forth by all four members was second to none, so much so that it was perhaps beyond the scope of appreciation for some in the audience, as Pleasure’s style is not for everybody and only for absolute purists.
When it comes to producing musicians with world-conquering potential, Ventura does not cease to amaze. All in all, an extremely pleasant rock ‘n roll outing for locals and travelers alike.