Review by Doug Walker, photos by Sherry Mande
December 30th 2016, Mr. Peabody’s Bar & Grill, Encinitas CA: Mr. Peabody’s is a small bar in the North County, San Diego area, a venue not entirely equipped to handle loud rock bands. The stage barely fits the bands, the P.A. has a hard time keeping up with the guitar amplifiers, and the room is almost completely soundproofed, so there’s little to no resonance. That’s what makes this a great place to go see a band play live. You get to really see what bands can overcome the sonic obstacles and sound good in a room designed to sound bad. That’s what happened twice on a cold, rainy Friday.
Cage opened up the night with their precise, high-energy metal. For those unfamiliar with their work, I like to think of them as having the post-Painkiller Priest sound, but with a little more of a speed metal touch. Singer Sean Peck has a fantastic range, and can hit the high notes with little effort. The P.A. wasn’t pushing his vocals the way a larger room or a venue with better equipment would, but you could still make out the notes he was singing. His pitch was solid, and he was entertaining to watch. Guitarist Casey Trask put on a clinic of solos using a myriad of scales, modes, and techniques. His playing is solid while he moves, and the notes are scorching. Alex Pickard’s bass tone was thunderous, owing in part to the room set up canceling out a lot of high end tones. His bass playing was locked in with Casey and drummer Sean Elg. Sean, as always, puts on a display of sheer stamina, playing high-tempo double bass helicopter beats with little to no fluctuation. This is made even more impressive that the drums weren’t mic’d. It’s a really cool experience to get to see them perform under these circumstances, they get to really show you their chops.
The Great Electric Quest took the stage next, and as the final act of the night. Right off the bat, drummer Mucho had so much volume coming off his kit, you would think he was mic’d. The Quest was dialed in sonically and had a very heavy tone and presence. Guitarist Buddy Donner’s tone matched with bass player Jared Bliss made for a wall of thickness that washed over Mucho’s relentless assault on the drums. The crowd couldn’t help themselves and everyone in the room was head-banging. When a groove is that solid, it just kind of grabs everyone and takes them on… well… a quest. For those not familiar with their sound, “The Quest” as they are known, are a hybrid of classic heavy metal, psych, and a healthy dose of good old rock n’ roll. It’s a one-guitar metal band that’s beat-oriented. Buddy Donner does a tremendous job of filling the space going between rhythm and lead work, and Jared Bliss’ choice of phrasing on the bass guarantees that there is never a moment where the sound is thin. Singer Tyler Dingvell sings in a tenor with a bit more gravel to his voice. He can get up in the higher ranges, as well, but he usually stays near the same octave of the guitar. He puts on a great show with an easygoing banter between songs, both funny and engaging, and during the songs he’s very animated and performs the songs.
Overall a very entertaining evening, and both bands are great live acts. The only points coming off of this are for the room, because as neat as it is to see bands kill when the room is designed to make them suck, the room still sucks for amplified music.
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