Review by Andrew Bansal, photos by Karina Diane
August 15th 2015, Loaded Rock Bar, Hollywood CA: Taking a break from working on their next set of studio material, San Francisco stoner/doom trio Castle began a two-week US West Coast headline run at Loaded Hollywood last Saturday August 15 2015 with local support acts P.D.P., Grand Lord High Master and Aberrance, for a gig put together by Church Of The 8th Day. Even with a multitude of other events occurring simultaneously in and around the Los Angeles area on this extremely busy concert night, the quality of performances at this particular gig vindicated the decisions of those that chose to be in attendance.
Doors opened at 8:30, and expectedly on a Saturday night, the outer bar area at Loaded Hollywood was already packed with local regulars, as the most generic hair metal tunes in history were being played on the PA, as if to remind and reprimand me of the fact that I was not at Cathouse Live. But the concert room inside is a whole different world in its own right, no less than a dive. At around 9 PM, in front of a turnout that was appreciably large at such an early point of the evening, the live music commenced.
First on stage were Temecula CA power/thrash metal quintet Aberrance, who succeeded in garnering a positive response from those that cared to turn up early to see all the bands. All members of Aberrance showcased commendable skill on their respective instruments and carried good energy on stage. They served as an ideal opening act and provided a solid start to the show.
Next up were Grand Lord High Master, a band whose style is extremely hard and next to impossible to describe to anyone that has not heard or seen them. With the insane amount of variety they presented within a mere 30-minute set, they treated this gathering to endless entertainment, and came across as the weirdest band to have surfaced in the Los Angeles area, at least in recent times. You would either love it or hate it, and most people in this audience loved it, myself included. Seeing their style of performance, it came as no surprise that they opened for Cattle Decapitation earlier this year because they certainly match that band in the weirdness factor. The headline act at this Loaded gig undoubtedly lived up to its billing, but Grand Lord High Master was the surprise bonus for first-timers in attendance.
Main support for the show came from local veterans P.D.P. who put forth a flawless ritual of Meshuggah worship. They were not doing anything unique, specially not in comparison to Grand Lord High Master, but carried good stage presence and excelled at doing what they set out to do. For fans of modern technical metal, P.D.P. is definitely worthwhile.
And promptly at 11:30 in a typically smooth-run Church Of The 8th Day show, Castle took the stage and went about accomplishing their mission of delivering no-bullshit vintage stoner rock to the masses gathered here. The head-banging and foot-stomping factor was prominent in each and every tune in the set, which got extended at the end as the crowd demanded not one but two encores. This is a trio of musicians in perfect harmony with each other, and the result is a relentless avalanche of easily enjoyable heavy music. The headbanging in the crowd only increased as the set progressed, and mosh pits also broke out on a few occasions. The applause after every song was massive, and all three members of Castle seemed genuinely grateful to begin their tour on such an uplifting note.
In the same manner as bands like Behold! The Monolith, Ironaut and Deathkings have proved in the past, the turnout and response for this Castle gig once again showed that Hollywood does indeed have a fan-base for heavy stoner/doom music, and Loaded serves to be as good a setting for it as any. An excellent night out for fans of the heavy.
Interview with Mat Davis coming soon
Remaining tour dates:
8/17 – San Francisco CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
8/18 – Eugene OR @ Wandering Goat
8/19 – Seattle WA @ Funhouse
8/20 – Vancouver BC @ Funky Winker Beans
8/21 – Victoria BC @ Logan’s Pub
8/22 – Bellingham WA @ Shakedown
8/24 – Portland OR @ Ash St. Saloon
8/25 – Bend OR @ 3rd St. Pub