This poster derived from the Avenger album artwork is by Brooke Kent. (www.brookekent.com)
Life on the road for a band is full of highs and lows. The unpredictable nature of the business of music interferes with the process of making art accessible to many. This is a sad reality for all touring bands, except for a precious few. Perspective is what you need to survive. You can look no further than the band TOTIMOSHI who has been around awhile, opened for some huge bands like THE MELVINS, MASTODON, NEUROSIS and ISIS and have a great new album out, Avenger (At A Loss). O’Brien club, just outside of Boston was less than full tonight which was kind of disappointing. The band however, appreciated those who did come out and didn’t let it affect them at all which was professional and cool. I was hoping to snag the split 7” the band has out with THE MELVINS, but alas they didn’t have it yet.
Darryl Sheppard is BLACKWOLFGOAT!
After hanging out a bit and chatting with some local scene folks, the bands started to play. The first band I caught was experimental noise-rock outfit LEAGUES. Fronted by the enchanting Deb Nicholson, the band ran through some obtuse songs that were high-minded, idealistic art pieces as much as they were songs. The crowd was digging it and the band seem to give that energy right back to the fans which was cool. Next up was solo guitar act BLACKWOLFGOAT. BLACKWOLFGOAT is the brainchild of guitarist Darryl Sheppard (MILLIGRAM/HACKMAN) who gets up there with just a guitar, an array of effects and one solitary amp. He crafts interesting rhythm and drone effects with his delay and sampling pedals and then plays beats, counter melodies and other riffs built on top of that foundation. The results are trippy and cool his choice of notes and licks is quite clever. Some of the loops become just insanely hypnotic over the course of time, sucking you in to the musical vortex. Bravo!
TOTIMOSHI rips it up live in Boston.
Finally it was time for TOTIMOSHI to hit the stage. They set up quickly and the fans that were in the house packed into the front for the headliners. The band readied for a musical war of the senses. Opening with the title track from their new album, they definitely set it off big time. Propulsive beats dropped from drummer Chris Fugitt like a thunderclap as Tony Aguilar’s guitar tone stabbed at our ears. The grooving jam just filled up the room and crushed. “The Seeing Eye” was next and was also really impressive. Between Aguilar’s fuzzed out riffs and singer/bassist Meg Castellanos thick as a brick basslines, the song is head-nodding good time. Aguilar is one of the more underrated front men rocking stages today. In addition to his terrific guitar skills, he is a fine singer and really connects with the crowd to put across his lyrical poetry. The stop-start riffs that end the song were lock-tight, showing what a veteran group with chops like these can do. Another Castellanos bass heavy track is “Calling All Curs” was next. A classic sounding funky instrumental, it is a jam full of swagger and bounce not unlike LED ZEPPELIN’s “The Crunge”. Fugitt in particular really killed and he was playing a cool looking see-through red drum kit that resonated throughout the tiny club. He also chips in some vocals here and there. Next up were “Ladron” and “Dance of Snakes”. “Ladron” begins as a trippy BLACK SABBATH or CREAM stoner jam, but quickly shifts in the verse to a semi-tone poem vibe. Later on it boils over into a full-fledged stomping rock anthem. “Dance of Snakes” is another husky rocker with a great breakdown and a super heavy ending. Just real music, delivered from the heart which is hard to come by these days. “Mainline” has a bit more in common with jazz music in terms of angular beats and phrasing, but winds up as a bluesy dirge. Aguilar’s passionate wail gives a feeling of imminent doom. As they sailed through the rest of the set with little stage banter, they chose to keep the focus on the music. “Viva Zapata” recalls some of the more interesting early SOUNDGARDEN songs when they were a lot more experimental. Aguilar in particular has a bit of Kim Thayil in his vibrato and chord voicings that really gets to me. “Gnat” was my favorite song of the set with its atmospheric build up all the way through to its rave-up ending. After robust versions of “The Fool” and “Opus” the band ran through an amazing cover version of “Are You Experienced”. Aguilar just slayed on the guitar solos and his whammy bar action is really admirable. They closed the triumphant set with “Waning Divine”, easily one of the best and hardest songs the band has ever written. It is equal parts ethereal, PINK FLOYD meditation and also a furious doom masterpiece all together. TOTIMOSHI is a band that really tries to create something special with their music so check em out if they come to your town.
Chris Fugitt is a powerhouse drummer.
The Seeing Eye
Calling All Curs
Dance of Snakes
Are You Experienced?
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes