Rome is always a city I wanted to visit, if like me you dig architecture, art and other such cultural pursuits then it’s the place to be. I had spent the past couple of days checking out the likes of the EUR, Coliseum, Circus Maximus and the Da Vinci Museum.
Included in my action-packed cultural itinerary was Heavy Psych Fest organized by Heavy Psych Sounds label owner Gabriele Fiori (also frontman of Black Rainbows). The label alongside American contemporaries RidingEasy Records are fast becoming firm favourites of mine. The quality of output on there is of a high standard featuring the likes of Brant Bjork, Giöbia, Glitter Wizard and Ecstatic Vision.
The gig was located at a club called Traffic and is in the far East of the city. To get there you really need to get a cab which is a challenge. Eventually after a frankly terrifying ride down the central tram track lines, which made me think of Popeye Doyle’s epic car chase in the French Connection, I arrive at the venue.
Traffic is dark, dingy and to be honest somewhat depressing. Watery beer and semi functional toilets do not a good evening make, if it wasn’t for the goodness promised by the line-up, I’d never have ventured into the place. I purchase a Heavy Psych Sounds T-Shirt as well the latest album by Crypt Trip and settle in for what I hope will be a great night’s entertainment.
Up first is hometown trio Fvzz Popvli whose frontman Pootchie consistently gurns and makes silly faces, I even felt like they were going to go into full on Bill and Ted Wyld Stallions mode at one point. Musically there’s a distinctive Ty Segall/Fuzz (I wonder if that’s where they got the inspiration of their name from?) vibe about them. Other bands that come to mind are Blue Cheer and The Stooges. They come from the more Garage Rock wing of the genre. At other times there is a Mudhoney/Grunge influence. It’s a shame that the audience was sparse at this point, people more focused on grabbing a pint at the bar or having a smoke (sadly just cigarettes) than checking out the awesomeness of Fvzz Popvli. But despair not dear readers of The Sleeping Shaman, you need not miss out by checking out these dudes at the following link… https://fvzzpopvli.bandcamp.com/album/fvzz-dei.
Up next is five-piece American outfit High Reeper. These fellas are well known on the Philadelphia/Delaware circuit and are certainly the Doomiest and heaviest outfit on tonight’s bill by a country mile. I’ll be honest with all the excellent bands on the Heavy Psych Sounds label it is inevitable that one or two will be overlooked and High Reeper are that band. When I say heavy, I mean in the Saint Vitus mould with smatterings of R.I.P. Interestingly enough I mentioned the similarity of the latter with some of the High Reeper guys after their set and they replied they had in fact toured with that band at one point. If you don’t know who R.I.P. are, seriously, do yourself a favour and check them out, Street Doom is the best way to describe them and they are a whole load of fun! High Reeper were the one band tonight you could headbang to and headbang the audience did. Great if you’re into the more Traditional Doom side of the genre, horns up as they say! https://highreeper.bandcamp.com.
the sets were fantastic with a diverse mix of styles. Thanks to the amazing folks at Heavy Psych Sounds for putting this together, grazie persone meravigliose!
Another American outfit was up next who go by the name of Crypt Trip, I’ve been aware of this trio since a good friend of mine featured them on a compilation he put together for me. Crypt Trip hail from San Marcos in Texas, roughly located between the cities of Austin and San Antonio. I mentioned earlier that I purchased their latest album and it’s this record that most of their set was focused on. Whereas previously the band had a retro Stoner Rock sound going much like a lot of their contemporaries and lets be honest, nearly every band in the genre is influenced by Sabbath, this time round they decided to change things up with a distinctly Southern Rock flavour that brings to mind the likes of the Allman Brothers and ZZ Top. I love that sound and they pull it off well without meandering into tedious Freebird territory. More than anything they’re the band that grooved the most tonight, especially with closing track Gotta Get Away and drummer Cameron Martin nails a perfect drum solo that John Bonham would be proud of. Give ‘em a listen at…https://crypttrip.bandcamp.com.
Black Rainbows are the penultimate outfit on tonight’s bill, and they’re another power trio who also like openers, Fvzz Popvil, are from Rome. The description on their bandcamp states that there are liberal pinches of Nebula and Fu Manchu, pinches? More like great big bloody handfuls! I had seen these guys at Desertfest last year and really enjoyed their set. Some may have an issue with them as they aren’t staggeringly original sound wise, but are a good fun Stoner Rock power trio that anyone who is a fan of the genre can appreciate. Personally, I can live with their plagiaristic tendencies as they are not only a solid band but bloody good blokes too (Gabriele called me a cab after the show). Here comes the inevitable plug: https://blackrainbows.bandcamp.com/
Finally, we get to headliners Giöbia from Milan. I saw this fourpiece earlier in the year at Sonic Blast in Moleda, Portugal and I loved their sound. If you dig Hawkwind and that whole Space Rock sound then you’ll adore these, a flute is even featured at one point. Sadly, by the time Giöbia come to the stage a lot of the audience are getting ready to leave. Whether it was anxiety with trying to find a way home at nearly 1:30 PM in the middle of nowhere in Rome’s suburbs is anyone’s guess. I assume it had more to do with their ‘difficult’ sound. Not many people are able to stand there for close to an hour listening to a band playing trippy and repetitive Space Rock. There’s no hooks but that’s even more part of the appeal. I implore the readers to give them a shot and check them out at https://giobiagiobia.bandcamp.com, LSD is optional.
All in all, dodgy and isolated venue aside, the sets were fantastic with a diverse mix of styles. Thanks to the amazing folks at Heavy Psych Sounds for putting this together, grazie persone meravigliose!
Scribed by: Reza Mills