The Eye of the Stoned Goat is a one-day concert event celebrating the stoner/doom/fuzz rock community with 7 hours of performances from a substantial lineup of talented bands. I attended the third installment in Brooklyn, NY, following two successful events in Delaware. Here are my increasingly-unsober notes regarding the show:
Saturday, July 27th. I’m walking through Bushwick, heading for The Acheron, a local venue that specializes in loud, heavy music, where I’ve seen amazing bands like Young and in the Way and Vaporizer. I’m drinking Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey mixed with a 20 ounce Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi on the glass-littered sidewalk of Morgan Avenue. Beggars can’t be chooser, motherlickers.
If I had any doubt who Brendan Burns was (the booker/creator of the concert series), all I had to do was look for the hardest working guy in the room. This dude was hustling task to task, from putting up last minute posters to managing merch tables to setting up equipment for the next band. I hope he had a few minutes here and there to enjoy the show, because he should be proud of the talent he assembled.
Band #1: Wizard Eye. I’ll admit, I prefer extreme vocals. I appreciate a good singing voice, but I love the menace of screaming or growling. Vocalist/guitarist Erik propelled their dirty riff rock with a hoarse howl that delighted my crusty ears. Their music felt like Church Of Misery if they had spent all their time smoking dope and watching science fiction instead of researching serial killers . With theremin flourishes and solid bass work from Dave (who looked like the Lorenzo Lamas of stoner metal), Wizard Eye were on point from the first appropriate squeal of feedback. Dave also insisted on adding one shorter song to the set to use the entire three minutes left available of their time spot, and I want to personally thank him, because “On the Banks of a River” pulsed with energy and ended the already spectacular set with a bold exclamation point. Also, Erik’s dreads are approximately 94 feet long.
Band #2: Geezer. In a Geezer press release it says they “wanted to bring the evil back to the blues, the devil’s music.” After seeing them live I can definitely attest that it’s music for troublemaking and last-call saloon fisticuffs. Chris Turco’s frenetic drumming and Pat Harrington’s leathery voice invoked reckless, outlaw blues rock that injected heavy riffs with trippy delta sliding guitar and truck-driving grit. This music had cheap whiskey and siphoned diesel on its breath and was looking to settle a few scores.
Band #3: Wasted Theory. Brendan Burns plays drums in this gruff outfit from Bear, DE, and joked with the crowd that they were playing songs from their “greatest hits” album for the night. To me they sounded like if Down was covering Ram Jam, mixing 70s swagger rock with groove-concocting metal. They’ve been around for a little over a year now and I think their inspired mixture of southern metal and northern mountain rock is all the evidence you need to battle any person claiming rock is dead.
Band #4: Borracho. If you close your eyes and listen to this DC band’s heavy boogie rock you’d likely picture each performer playing with cigarettes dangling haphazardly from their lips, two inches of ash burning closer to the filter as they jam with both immediacy and a casual sense of cool. Reminded me of Orange Goblin if they were fronted by James Hetfield, but they also invoke the majestic riffs of vintage Sleep. This power trio played with a sneer and filled the room with fuzzed-out biker riffs so heavy they felt tangible.
Band #5: Lord Fowl. First time hearing this New Haven, CT band, and they delivered one of my favorite sets of the night. They had infectious toe-tappin’, head-bobbin’ rock’n’roll energy that charmed the audience with an all-out blast of heavy jubilation. Despite some technical difficulties they nailed the coked-up swagger and sex appeal of Aerosmith while combining it with the positive vibe of Valient Thorr, inspiring everyone in attendance to party and drink hard, but smile even harder. Absolutely a band to watch going forward, I could see these guys being perfect for a bill with The Sword.
Band #6: Supermachine. These guys are from Portsmouth, NH, a really nice little city on the border of Maine where I had an unfortunate vacation at the tail-end of a crumbling relationship. Despite those unpleasant memories, these guys play the sort of sky-punching heavy rock that punches your ears so hard it’s impossible to think about anything but the crunch of the guitars. David Nebbia has some serious pipes, reminding me in different songs of Faith No More-era Mike Patton or Chris Cornell. Jay Fortin also has a truly beautiful Gretsch White Falcon that I was immediately obsessed with. Even though I’m a (mediocre) drummer, I found myself whispering, “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be fine.”
Band #7: Black Black Black. Tough to pin these local Brooklynites down, as far as how to describe their sound. In turns somber and melodic, then bombastic and aggressive, they seemed to specialize in hypnotic noise rock but showed immense versatility. Moments of post-hardcore ferocity mixed with droning guitars, they definitely showcased a deft ability to play with tone and offered a dynamic performance. They also did a shout-out to JJ over at The Obelisk, who I briefly met and deserves the attention. The Obelisk is an amazing resource for the heavy (and all it’s sub-genres) music community and I was glad to be able to tell him that in person.
Band #8: Gozu. I haven’t read an interview to confirm this, but I was hoping this band was named after the brain-ravaging absurdist weirdo film by Takashi Miike. Every song felt like a relaxing exhale of orange kush smoke while driving a rusted convertible through a desert. Marc Gaffney’s vocals float over the enormous wall of riffs, providing a sense of calm even while the music is heavy enough to crush small animals that wander in its path. Doug Sherman performed brilliantly on guitar, though I did write down in my beer-smeared notebook: “Guitar looks like it might have been made for a child, or an adult with tiny hands.” In retrospect, I think he just had the guitar strap adjusted to play the guitar higher. I was not particularly sober at this point.
Band #9: Lo-Pan. The show closed out with these dudes from Columbus, OH inspiring the first good-natured moshing of the day, possessing a few high-spirited fellas to shove each other around to their groovy riffs that are loud enough to shake the pillars of heaven (don’t they, Wang?). It’s more rare to find heavy music this appealing and approachable than it is finding a green-eyed Chinese virgin. If you haven’t seen Big Trouble in Little China and don’t understand the previous references you have my permission to go wrestle naked with the sewer monster lurking on the back of Jack Burton’s truck. Lo-Pan’s sound reminded me of early Incubus (when they were awesome) mixed with the buzzed groove of Clutch or Fu Manchu. The audience demanded an encore, and for good reason: These guys flat-out rock with what seems like effortless command. Tough to find a rock singer with a better croon than Jeff Martin, who set up in the back of the stage, behind the drums. Beginning to end, they dominated and capped off a mini-tour with Gozu by pulverizing the Brooklyn crowd.
It was a great night of rock’n’roll so loud and heavy it made my pathetic, naturally-hairless chest grow a torso beard. Many thanks to Brendan for all the work he put into the show, and to each band for delivering a memorable night of awesome performances. I am a huge fan of events that celebrate a sense of community and The Eye of the Stoned Goat is exactly the sort of show that promotes creative collaboration and camaraderie. See ya for installment number four, Stoned Goat.
Check out the official website, and if you’re lucky there might be some merch left. Those Stoned Goat concert shirts look amazing: http://www.theeyeofthestonedgoat.com/