Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
New York has had quite a few rainy days for the month of April and last Saturday on the 22nd, was no different. While many tourists were hiding underneath awnings and umbrellas, a few hundred metalheads found shelter in the West Village area at (le) Poisson Rouge to see doom metal legends Pentagram with Brant Bjork, Royal Thunder and Black Wizard. At one point the brief East Coast tour looked like it could have been cancelled or empty, considering frontman and icon Bobby Liebling couldn’t make it. Leaving the relapse rumors behind, the show went on and Pentagram moved forward with the tour as a trio and we were there to see the full event.
The bill fits well together, mixing stoner, doom, blues, and of course, mesmerizing riffs that will haunt or inspire you for days on end. The venue had a decent size when Canadian doom metallers Black Wizard took the stage to ignite the evening, continuing to promote their 2016 album New Waste with songs “Harsh Time,” “Vivian Girls,” and “Unnecessary Evil.” The lights added a trippy effect to their music that circulated between flashes of light and darkness. The only thing that was missing was a set of incense for all to completely get lost in a trance. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Grant led the room; song after song, riff after riff. This night wasn’t about interacting with the crowd, it was solely about getting lost with them.
Check out their setlist:
Young Wisdom (2013’s Young Wisdom)
Harsh Time (2016’s New Waste)
Vivian Girls (2016’s New Waste)
Unnecessary Evil (2016’s New Waste)
The Priest (2016’s New Waste)
Long Way Home (2010’s Black Wizard)
Up next were Georgia rockers Royal Thunder. Recently, the band headlined their own show at Saint Vitus last month and it was strange seeing them as an opener. Let’s be honest, these bluesy rockers are meant to headline. They used their limited time delivering songs from their brand new album Wick including “Burning Tree,” “April Showers,” Tied,” “The Sinking Chair,” “Wick” and “Anchor.” Despite a rushed set, the emotion and power they provoke on the stage were present.
The night moved back to psychedelic grooves and hooks with Brant Bjork and his band. You might recognize him from the stoner rock band Kyuss or during his time with Fu Manchu. He was there supporting his latest solo album Tao of the Devil which released last September which set the perfect mood for welcoming the mighty Pentagram.
The nearly packed house had quite a few fans holding Pentagram shirts and was fully devoted to hearing the band despite Liebling’s absence. Guitarist Victor Griffin reminded all about his absence as he admitted it wasn’t the first time he missed a gig. Griffin has been with the group long enough (on and off) that he was more than prepared for a situation like this. He had a booklet of lyrics, ready to step up as the vocalist. He nailed it and if there were any mistakes, no one seemed to have noticed. People were lost again hearing classic tunes including “Death Row” and “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram).” A lot of time was spent headbanging and drifting away to musical bliss, a true evening of psychedelic escapism. Despite the obvious obstacles, the event was a complete success.
Check out the full setlist:
“All Your Sins”
“Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)”
“Forever My Queen”
“When the Screams Come”
“20 Buck Spin”