Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Los Angeles 2022 – Sunday

Murphy’s Law. A cosmic force from which few touring bands are safe from. And on this sunny Sunday, the law came down hard. I was informed the previous night that hillbilly heroes Weedeater caught the damn bug, and thus had to drop out. But I wasn’t prepared for the fact that a whopping five of the original eight bands slated to play could not make it.

I’m not exactly sure what happened to High Reaper, The Freeks, JD Pinkus, and High Tone Son Of A Bitch, but I wholeheartedly hope that they are safe and sound. It is indeed a shame, but a four act show ain’t so bad. So we return to the set of Predator 2 to continue Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Los Angeles on its second day.

Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Los Angeles 2022

Local three-piece (Big)Pig are brought in as auxiliaries to get the day started in light of the canceled acts. Not to be confused with the ‘80s Australian funk-pop act, these boilersuit-clad riff merchants have a sound very reminiscent of Red Fang and Tad. It’s brutish, boisterous, and with a noticeable undercurrent of humor. The vocals are howled like a large drunk guy who locked himself out of his apartment, and the rhythm section hammers along with mid-tempo snarl. As an LA resident who has been out of the loop about local acts (for an obvious 2+ year reason), it’s nice coming across such a group. (Big)Pig succeeds in getting the blood flowing.

It’s brutish, boisterous, and with a noticeable undercurrent of humor…

Next, we have Texas band Warlung. Admittedly, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the first few songs. They didn’t sound bad per se, but it struck me as a lesser take on The Sword and Valkyrie. I later moved to view them at the center and instantly began to appreciate them more. Vocalist/guitarist George Baba is no slouch on the guitar and has a strong ear for melody, and he and co-guitarist/vocalist Philip Bennett do an excellent job of sharing vocal duties as well as harmonizing, especially on the track The Scorpion In The Sand. The live mix wasn’t perfect, and Baba’s lead guitar did sometimes struggle to be heard. Nonetheless, I’m glad I warmed up to them and I will definitely be checking them out more in the future.

I will definitely be checking them out more in the future…

And now we come to some old favorites, The Atomic Bitchwax! I’ve long maintained that the New Jersey trio’s 1999 Self-Titled album is one of the finest – and last – of memorable ‘90s stoner rock albums, so this is a definite highlight of the weekend for me. And do they deliver? Boy, they deliver like fine takeout. From Chris Cosnik’s punk-blues vocals and Geezer-ish bass, to Garret Sweeny’s incendiary Les Paul attack and finally Bob Pantella’s seismic drumming, the crowd is utterly entranced by the romp and spectacle. All three members are Monster Magnet alumni (Sweeny and Pantella are current members) but as far as unbridled energy and rocking fun, I think they outdo their better-known sibling act. I get a little weary of moshpits breaking out at stoner shows when the music tempo picks up, but I don’t blame the crowd for creating a swirling maelstrom of human bodies when the band ends their set with the furious track of Shit Kicker.

the crowd is utterly entranced by the romp and spectacle…

‘Hi, we’re Weedeater but not Weedeater’ jokes Mike ‘Muleboy’ Makela, frontman of Wisconsin sludge legends Bongzilla. With Makela taking up bass duties, they primarily played cuts from their surprisingly atmospheric return album Weedsconsin and brought the appropriate blend of harsh growling vocals and fuzz-covered-in-resin riffing style as the night’s closer. Is it a good set? Of course it is, but I personally missed the attack that the band brings as a four piece. Cloaked in the same haunting green light that illuminated the previous night’s Dead Meadow set, Bongzilla rounded out the evening with sludge stomp and a raucous applause from the audience.

Bongzilla rounded out the evening with sludge stomp and a raucous applause from the audience…

It was a weird weekend, and not everything went according to plan. But my goodness… how great it was to attend a music festival! Getting to meet fellow travelers, enjoying new music being made, seeing battle-hardened veteran bands who have still got it… it’s a timeless experience that I want to continue to replicate. Our troubled world might not fully return to our notions of normalcy, but there are still people out there who want to bare their souls out of the wattage of a massive Orange amp, and there are still people who are there to listen.

Scribed by: Rob Walsh