Review by Rob Hughes
Whoa, cleanup on aisle one! Judging by the state of the stairway up to the Rickshaw lobby, this was one of those “party till you puke” kind of shows. Put four hard-rocking bands together on a Friday night, and things are bound to get out of hand for some.
I’m sorry I missed most of Harma White’s set, but what I did hear was killer. The trio looked the part—all headbands and long hair—and closed their set with an impressive cover of “Whipping Post” with some ripping Telecaster solos and vocal harmonies that really did justice to the song. They also kept it concise, compared to the Allman Brothers’ famous 23-minute At Fillmore East version. I’m looking forward to catching a full set from these guys soon.
All night, the screens on either side of the stage showed trailers and footage from a bunch of cult ’60 and ’70s movies, which added a nice retro touch to the proceedings. It was especially cool when the live music and visuals would synch up for a brief spell. Stunt Rock, Race with the Devil, Logan’s Run, Star Crash, Up in Smoke…they sure don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Three Wolf Moon have been gigging steadily for the last year and look like they’ve gained a lot of energy and confidence along the way. The five-piece, featuring Adam Grant from Black Wizard, have a swinging, hazy kind of West Coast psych sound. With one member supplying some classic Hammond sounds by way of a Nord keyboard, they had a unique edge on this guitar-dominated night. Their set flowed well, and by the time they reached their last song, with guest guitarist Eric from No Sinner, they were rocking really hard.
No Sinner were up next. Respect to Colleen Rennison for wearing her trademark cutoffs in the chilly concrete bunker that is the Rickshaw. That’s suffering for one’s art. She was the main focus, all right, cementing her rock goddess status with every hip swivel and hair tousle. The rest of the band were tight and talented, and there was a camaraderie between them—evident in Rennison’s teasing admiration for Eric’s voluminous Beethoven hair—that suggested they’ll be around to rock this town for a good while yet. In truth, No Sinner weren’t really my kind of thing, but I also can’t deny that they drew the biggest, most enthusiastic crowd of the night.
Even though the crowd had thinned out during the break, La Chinga certainly took the stage in triumphant headlining fashion. Armed with extra lights and a righteous fog machine, they began with “Early Grave,” followed by a good helping of tracks from their dynamite new album. I knew that the trio would have their sound down pat—I’d seen their bassist/singer Carl Spackler’s previous band, Captain Dust, before. But what I didn’t expect was the psychedelic dimension they’d add to their solid ’70s freedom rock/stoner rock base. With the aid of a theremin and an echo unit, they were able to transform album highlight “To Let Silver” into a stunning centrepiece of their show. They drove the gig home hard with a two-shot of “Evil (Is Going On)”—covering Cactus’s version of the Willie Dixon standard—and their own ruling theme song, “La Chinga.” When more people start to pick up on La Chinga, the band will be packing places. Their new LP makes for an impressive calling card.