MILL VALLEY -- Bay Area psych-prog band Mondo Drag headlines this free show at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley Friday night, sharing the stage with local psych/shoegaze outfit the Asteroid No. 4.
Founded over 15 years ago in Davenport, Iowa, by singer/keyboard player John Gamino, guitarist Jake Sheley and guitarist/synth player Nolan Girard -- the three childhood friends started playing together in their teens -- Mondo Drag recorded their debut album New Rituals in 2009 that was released on Alive Records the following year. A relentless touring regimen would follow with the group appearing regularly at festivals and sharing stages with like-minded acts including Dead Meadow, Witchcraft, Black Mountain, and Bay Area bands Sleepy Sun and Wooden Shjips.
After several line-up changes that at one point found former Radio Moscow members (and the future core of psych band Blue Pills) Cory Berry and Zack Anderson taking over vacated rhythm section positions, Mondo Drag would relocate to Oakland in 2013, eventually adding drummer Ventura Garcia and bassist Andrew O'Neil. The band signed to Riding Easy Records, which released their eponymous effort in 2015.
The quintet earned some of its best reviews yet with the fuzzed-out guitar leads and swirling Hammond organ and synth grooves heard on the record. Its growing reputation led prog-metal greats Mastodon to hand picked Mondo Drag to open a packed free Converse Rubber Tracks show at the Chapel in 2016. Later that year, the group issued its follow-up -- The Occultation Of Light -- prior to heading out on a European tour playing with the likes of Pentagram and Elder. Powered by the band's growing arsenal of vintage keyboard sounds, the album delivered hefty sounds that at times recall the heavy-prog boogie of '70s British rockers Uriah Heep.
While the band has had some extended lulls in activity, Mondo Drag is emerging from hibernation to play its first Oakland show in two years at Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland presented by Talent Moat ahead of an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas later this month. The group debuted new drummer Jimmy Perez (who also plays in SF power trio Chief) in the summer of 2022 as well as previewing some of the songs featured on their latest album, Through the Hourglass. Released in this month on Riding Easy Records, the group's first effort in nearly eight years hews closely to Mondo Drag's prog roots, at points echoing Meddle-era Pink Floyd with the keyboard-heavy sound of "Passages" and the title track.
For this free all-ages show sponsored by SoCal psych music festival Desert Daze at the Sweetwater Music Hall that only requires that attendees RSVP online, Mondo Drag is joined by veteran local psych/shoegaze outfit the Asteroid No. 4. The band kicks off the proceedings with tunes from their latest album Tones Of The Sparrow, which featured contributions from former Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Golden Void singer/keyboard player Camilla Saufley.
Mondo Drag with Asteroid No. 4
Friday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. Free with RSVP
Sweetwater Music Hall
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