Local heroes Hot Lunch plays festival pre-party at Bottom Of The Hill
SAN FRANCISCO -- Local psych/punk band Hot Lunch brings its cathartic sounds to the Bottom of the Hill on Friday, headlining the official Heavy Psych Sounds Fest pre-party with Slough Feg, Older Sun and Disastroid.
The Friday show serves as the kickoff to full weekend of crushing bands that will be held indoors at Thee Parkside a few blocks away on Saturday and Sunday starting at 1 p.m. A force on the San Francisco underground scene for going on 15 years, Hot Lunch was founded by singer Eric Shea after the split of his potent retro-rock outfit Parchman Farm in 2006. Shea managed to put together an all-star quartet of talented players, including former Mensclub guitar hero Aaron Nudelman and the pulverizing rhythm section of drummer Rob Alper -- ex-The Sermon (he also played guitar with Sacto garage-punks SLA) -- and bassist Charlie Karr, who was best known for his work with the Alternative Tentacles band Harold Ray Live in Concert.
Hot Lunch soon became a fixture in SF clubs with their fiery live performances and expanded their audience with the eventual release of the group's self-titled debut in 2013. Unlike the many acts who do little more than mimic the sonic template of influential early '70s proto punk/metal bands like Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad and the MC5, Hot Lunch wove in elements of skate punk, psychedelia and prog rock into their unique sound.
Issued on independent German label Who Can You Trust? in Europe and Tee Pee Records stateside, the album led to sponsored recordings and concert appearances for Scion A/V and Converse, considerably raising the band's profile. Over the next few years, the quartet issued a number of singles and EPs, including the five-track Scion A/V collection Slappy Sunday that was released for free download in 2015 and a 45 featuring the new tracks "Haul of Meat" and "Pot of Gold" last year. In 2019, the band announced plans to release its appropriately titled sophomore album Seconds on Tee Pee Records in March.
Expanding the group's sonic palette, the effort finds Hot Lunch embracing an ever-widening dynamic range with the haunting middle section of "Smoke Ring" and the sprawling prog epic of album closer, "Skulled to Neptune." But fans of the group's burly proto-punk attack will be pleased by the hefty crunch of "Human Reissue" and the energetic fury "Black Angel's Curse" kicks into following Nudelman's acoustic introduction.
The band went through a seismic change shortly after the album's release with two members moving out of the Bay Area as Shea relocated to Georgia for his job with online radio station Pandora, while Alper ended up in Tuscon, Arizona. Despite the obstacles presented by half the band departing the region, Hot Lunch seems more intent than ever to continue developing the band's unique approach to heavy music. The group's set at the San Francisco edition of last year's Heavy Psych Sounds Fest was a highlight of the weekend. The quartet also served as the Friday headliner at the three-day Bargain Rock Festival in Oakland last summer.
For this epic Heavy Psych Sounds kickoff party, Hot Lunch is joined by three more local favorites at the Bottom of the Hill. Though founded in central Pennsylvania in the late 1980s, the Lord Weird Slough Feg (as the band was known initially) had relocated to San Francisco by 1990. Fronted by guitarist/singer and principle songwriter Michael Scalzi, the group crafted a sound that was true to it's unusual name reportedly taken from a Celtic myth. Drawing sonic influences from the twin-guitar attack of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden with occasional touches of Celtic folk, the band made a name for itself with its theatrical presentation featuring flaming torches and warpaint to go with their galloping metal anthems.
Several demo tapes were followed by the band's self-released, eponymous debut in 1996. That effort attracted the attention of European imprint Dragonheart Records, who would release the next several albums starting with 1999's Twilight of the Idols. By the time the group recorded their celebrated follow-up album Down Among the Dead Men, Scalzi had been joined by noted San Francisco metal guitarist John Cobbett, who had already established himself with the bands Osgood Slaughter and Unholy Cadavar. That latter group also featured Scalzi as a member and would morph into the group Hammers of Misfortune.
Scalzi and Cobbett would earn a higher profile with both outfits after the release of their respective conceptual albums -- Hammers of Misfortune's breakout debut The Bastard in 2001 and the Lord Weird Slough Feg's sci-fi opus Traveller, that was based on a late '70s role-playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. With the two talented players and songwriters contributing to each other's bands, both groups put out a string of acclaimed releases that further spread their notoriety.
Scalzi would depart Hammers of Misfortune by the mid-2000s to focus his attention on Slough Feg, with the guitarist leading new configurations of the band through more sci-fi epics like Hardworlder and Ape Uprising! Slough Feg put out its first new album since 2014's Digital Resistance. Issued in 2019 by the group's current label Cruz Del Sur Music, New Organon finds Scalzi and company unleashing another batch of tunes spotlighting their familiar twin-guitar attack and the band leader's concept-driven songwriting (the title tune refers to a book on the scientific method published in 1620 by English philosopher Francis Bacon).
Also appearing will be SF hard-rock heavyweights Older Sun. Making riff-driven monolithic tunes indebted to the classic '60s and '70s sounds of Cream, Free, Mountain and Montrose for over a decade, the band released their debut album in 2018 on Anchorite Recordings after issuing a pair of singles for Valley King Records. That album also marked the end of a chapter for the band, presenting its last songs recorded with departing lead singer Chris Wagner.
The group would expand to a quintet with the addition of powerhouse new vocalist and lyricist Kelsey Guntharp. Since she joined, the band has continued to explore its style of extended, blues-tinged riff workouts while broadening its palette to embrace a more concise and metallic attack as on the hook-laden new track "Raised By Wolves" from Older Sun's forthcoming sophomore album Dawn of Darkness set for release later this year.
Opening the show is SF power trio Disastroid. Formed over a decade ago by singer/guitarist Enver Koneya and bassist Travis Williams, the band puts a unique twist on the typical stoner-rock formula by adding elements of early '90s Amphetamine Reptile Records style noise rock and later instrumental post/math-rock to the mix.
The band issued a series of self-released albums and EPs starting in 2009, gradually building its local following as they refined their sound. More recently, Disastroid shared Bay Area stages with established touring acts like Fu Manchu, Mondo Generator, Helmet, Church Of Misery, Big Business, Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man as well as SF's own experimental punk mavericks Oxbow.
In addition to appearing at the 2018 edition of the Psycho Las Vegas music festival, the band got signed to stoner/psych imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, which issued Disastroid's latest effort Mortal Fools in 2020. DJ Sasquatch Borracho spins tunes before and between bands.
Heavy Psych Sounds Pre-Party with Hot Lunch
Friday, March 24, 8 p.m. $16-$20
Bottom of the Hill
for more features.