Valient Thorr, Year Long Disaster, Riverboat Gamblers, Totimoshi
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
The Underground, Reno, NV

The Volcom tour is an opportunity for singer/guitarist/snowboarder Ryan Immegart (theLINE'S) and clothing founder Richard Wollcott to showcasing their impressive recording roster. The label is located in Costa Mesa, CA and is known for their unconventional distribution lines, like selling CDs in skateboard shops and other underground outlets. The past few years they have created a stir with a stage on the Van’s Warped Tour where bands like Valient Thorr have blazed serious inroads. The tour was in its final stage as it rolled into Reno. Though doing well in certain hot spots like St. Louis, Chicago and most of Texas, the Nevada crowd this night was a bit thin. There were also casualties. Totimoshi drummer Bil Bowman quit the band just before the home stretch and is currently replaced by Valient Thorr guitarist Eidan Thorr while still maintaining his position in the headline act. Voiden does a surprising job mastering enough of the group’s set list to get through the night. Luckily no one has ended up in jail, electrocuted or stuck in a freak hailstorm.

The trio Totimoshi opened the show as one of the heaviest bands since Blue Cheer. Not the least bit Japanese (as their name would suggest) they tore into past favorites “Fancy Pants” and “The Pigs Are Schamin” with a sludgy, stoney aggression that gets immediate attention. Bassist Meg Castellanos kept her head low and her grooves dark and dirty while guitarist Antonio Aguilar painted a cerebral soundscape that’s dense and brooding with a slight Latin influence in keeping with their metal-meets-Morricone persona. New tracks from their critically praised Ladrón (‘thief’ in Spanish) CD included a monster rendition of the fuzzy title cut, a searing rave-up of “Viva Zapata” and the Western soundtrack “The Dance Of Snakes.” In the later, Aguilar’s guitar and voice reach a fevered pitch as the verse approached the chorus while the catchy riff swirled around the room. “We’ve been at this ten years,” said Castellanos after their set. “It’s great to be on a label that supports all their bands and gives them a chance to play on a tour like this.”

A switch in the evenings’ line up moved our favorite Austin punk band Riverboat Gamblers to the stage next. All piss and vinegar, the five-piece railroad through a smashing set of overdrive classics including “Rattle Me Bones” “Don’t Bury Me” and “Hey, Hey, Hey.” Granted they were just through town a few months back, but they still locked it down tight with guitars in the air and singer Mike Wiebe’s spastic jittering all over the stage, into the crowd and all the way to back of the hall. Loaded up on Red Bull, amp distortion and who knows what else, they rampaged through “True Crime”, “Black Nothing of a Cat” and “On Again off Again” from their latest outing To the Confusion of Our Enemies. Bassist Pat “Spider” Lillard and their unknown drummer stir up on a couple newbie’s, while guitarists Fadi el-Assad and Ian MacDougall keep the pedal-to-the-metal and the adrenaline racing.

As reported here six months ago, Year Long Disaster opened for Clutch to an enthusiastic response. They proved just as lethal this time around as they prepare for their self-titled debut release Oct 9th. Led by Daniel Davies (son of Kinks’ Dave Davies) the trio grind out Zeppelin riffs with Sabbath poundings. Bassist Rich Mullins (Karma to Burn, Speedealer) has a sturdy thump that moves with Brad Hargreaves (Third Eye Blind) precision drumming. They are as retro as Wolfmother and with Davies’ Page-like posturing on songs like “It Ain’t Luck”, “The Mad Shrew” and “Per Qualche Dollaro” they had the crowd pushing the barriers in time with the music. Afterwards Davis told us his dad was a big fan of the band but, in order to be taken seriously, the band had to stand on their own. Touring from the very start has helped polish their songs to bright, shiny clusters of energy. “Being on the road is what shaped this band,” said Davies backstage. “We find what the crowd digs on - like the shuffles, and play them with attitude.” 

 Prior to going on stage, Valient Thorr bassist Dr. Professor Nitewolf Strangees told us, “You must really dig heavy music…and have a beard to be in this band.” Hailing from North Carolina, the wooly quintet are out promoting their second full-length disc Legend of the World. They top the bill tonight and strike like lumberjacks hopped up on moonshine. Rumbling somewhere between Motörhead and Ram It Down-era Judas Priest, they preach their antigovernment, anti-religion rhetoric mixed with fictitious space travel. Grandson’s of mountain hippies, their mash of biker rock is endlessly entertaining like a collision between the MC5 and Ted Nugent. Lead singer, Valient rants and raves over twin guitar leads and pummeling bass beats, but oh, these guys rock live. Forget about the solos, the musicianship or the denim jackets – here were seasoned veterans that play like they live it. “With us it’s no bullshit,” says Valient chugging’ a brew post show. “We entertain, we tell no lies, we get you to think on your own, and we rock. Now print that motherfu*ker.”

Website: Volcom Records, Valient Thorr, Year Long Disaster, Riverboat Gamblers, Totimoshi