Acclaimed doom band Windhand headlines Day 1 of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the leading lights of the modern American doom-metal scene, Windhand tops a stacked bill for the first day of the mammoth Heavy Psych Sounds Festival at Thee Parkside Saturday.
Organized by noted Italian psychedelic rock imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, the festival first came to the Bay Area in 2018 in partnership with local show promoter and design company Subliminal SF/RWS Presents. The epic weekend of heavy music marked the only two-day stop for the inaugural year of the U.S. edition of the festival featuring headliners Red Fang and Nebula along with a host of other acts taking over the Bottom of the Hill for a full weekend of loudness. This year's festival includes headliners Windhand and Weedeater, Mexican psych pioneers Los Dug Dugs, celebrated HPS Records artists Geezer, Witchpit, Duel and Love Gang along with returning groups Nebula, the Atomic Bitchwax, Hippie Death Cult, Kadabra and Warlung as well as local acts High Tone Son of a Bitch and Psychic Hit.
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While concerns over rain have moved this year's edition indoors at Thee Parkside, the venue will still have vendors, full bar and food available and the full line-up of eight bands per day will still be taking the stage at the intimate venue. In addition to the main event on the weekend, the festival is hosting affiliated pre-parties at the Rickshaw Stop Wednesday night with the first SF visit for acclaimed British psych juggernaut Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs along with locals Nobody's Baby and Thank You Come Again as well as a Friday night show at the Bottom of the Hill with heavyweight favorites Hot Lunch, SF Celtic metal band Slough Feg, bluesy stoner-rock group Older Sun and noisy punk band Disastroid. On Saturday night, Bender's hosts an after party with SoCal psychedelic rockers Spirit Mother and Oakland punk/metal power trio Glowing Brain.
Over the course of 15 years in existence, Richmond, VA-based quintet Windhand has established a reputation as leading light on the modern doom-metal scene. Mixing monolithic riffs from guitarists Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan that recalled stoner-rock icons Sleep and Acid King, Lysol-era Melvins and Black Sabbath with the soaring, melodic vocals of singer Dorthia Cottrell, Windhand was formed in 2008. After several years of developing material and their unique sound, the band earned wide acclaim with the 2012 release of their debut album on Forcefield Records.
That effort would help the band score a deal with Relapse Records. A split release with fellow Richmond drone merchants Cough brought more accolades, leading up to 2013's breakout album Soma. Hailed by the underground metal blogs and mainstream outlets like Rolling Stone, NPR and Spin as one of the year's best metal albums, the recording paired the sprawling drone avalanches of "Boleskine" and "Cassock" with Cottrell's stunning acoustic lament "Evergreen" to striking effect.
Soma landed Windhand on several high-profile tours with High on Fire and Dead Meadow as well as spots on numerous festival bills including Roadburn, SXSW, Day of the Shred and Maryland Deathfest. In 2015, the band traveled to Seattle to record its next album with famed producer Jack Endino, the man who helped track some of the most influential Sub Pop records of the '90s by the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden as well as more modern metal efforts by High on Fire.
The resulting effort, Grief's Infernal Flower, found Windhand delivering another batch of tuneful, potent songs over the course of the sprawling 70+ minute psychedelic doom epic that was showered with accolades by the music press. The group would take a break after an extensive and well-attended tour to promote Grief's Infernal Flower (though Cottrell also managed to put out her country-tinged, self-titled acoustic debut in 2015), with guitarist Bogdan departing to leave Windhand as a quartet. They would also issue a split album with fellow Virginians and Sabbath-inspired occult rockers Satan's Satyrs that ramped up the hypnotic psychedelic elements to the band's sound.
Windhand reunited with Endino in Seattle to record their latest album, Eternal Return, that came out to rave reviews in early October of 2018. Once again showcasing Cottrell's knack for matching her stratospheric vocal melodies to the band's lumbering, gothic riff architecture, the effort may be the quartet's most accomplished creation yet. While they has largely been quiet since that release and during the pandemic, the group recently announced their plan to release Windhand Live, a 2LP set that documents a stunning performance they streamed in partnership with the Austin, TX-based Levitation Festival in November of 2020 that found the foursome reconvening to play together for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The limited vinyl pressing of the album was released in August. More recently, Cottrell recently announced plans to release her second solo album, Death Folk Country, in April. The balance of the Saturday bill includes such highlights as the heavy psychedelia from explosive Portland, OR band Hippie Death Cult (who delivered a blistering set at last year's edition of the festival), the current version of Los Dug Dugs -- the veteran Mexican garage-psych group led by multi-instrumentalist Armando Nava -- along with trippy doom power trio Geezer, Texas rockers Warlung, Denver-based quartet Love Gang, South Carolina sludge-metal crew Witchpit and psychedelic stoner group Cosmic Reaper. More information and tickets are available at the RWS Presents website.
Heavy Psych Sounds Festival with Windhand and more
Saturday, March 25, 12 p.m. $80 ($150 for 2-day festival pass)
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