Arguably the talk of the entire festival was Pentagram playing a homecoming, headlining set on Saturday night. Considering the band — and its notorious frontman’s — past history, this was not a sure thing. But I’m not sure that anyone who was in the room at Cafe 611 left disappointed, while the only illegal activity that went down was a possible violation of the noise curfew.
Meanwhile, for me, I was pretty stoked to see three bands I had previously reviewed quite favourably on record in the flesh for the very first time. One of those bands was Louisiana’s Forming the Void, who took the stage around 7:30 pm. In stark contrast to some of the more straightforward stoner/doom bands on the bill, these guys take more of a progressive, post-sludge approach, with nods to early Mastodon and Baroness. They also had some of the coolest t-shirt designs I’d seen at the fest — I took one back with me to Toronto.
Atala was another band I was pretty stoked to see for the first time. I’ve really dug the last three records from this doom trio from the California desert, including their most recent effort, The Bearer of Light, which came out a few weeks back. Live, they embody the essence of Saint Vitus, with the heavy riffs and cat-screech solos. I was definitely not disappointed!
Although I’d caught ’em at a couple festivals in the past, this would be the last time I’d ever see Beelzefuzz, who announced that they’d be breaking up after the gig. If you like a little prog in your doom, a la latter-day Revelation (with whom they shared a bassist), then it might be worth tracking down one of the two albums they released. Didn’t get a lot of great shots, unfortunately, cuz there was quite a few people up front…
Foghound was another band I was quite looking forward to, and they delivered the highest-energy performance of the evening…with the possible exception of the headliners. Maryland mainstays in their own right, this outfit features former members of Pentagram, Internal Void and Sixty Watt Shaman, and while everyone chips in on the gang choruses, the lead vocals actually come from behind the drumkit — something you don’t see every day!
Apostle of Solitude has been one of the most consistent bands on the U.S. doom scene over the past decade. I’ve seen ’em a handful of times at a few different festivals (and one headlining gig in Rochester) during that stretch, and there really isn’t a dud in their discography, either. They provided the slowest, most mournful set of the evening, reminding me why they’re always worth catching in the live setting.
Suffice to say, Pentagram drew the biggest crowd of the entire festival — there were several folks I spotted during their set that I never saw again. But whether you were there all weekend, or for just a couple hours, you probably couldn’t complain about their set list — heavy on Relentless, which a few 70’s chestnuts thrown in for good measure. Bobby’s vocals actually sounded much better than the other four times I’ve seen ’em, and while their new guitarist is no Victor Griffin, he acquitted himself quite ably. Theirs was the only set that exceeded the official noise curfew, too — even with the house lights all turned on, nobody was about to cut the sound when they came back for an encore!