By Dave Pehling
One of the Bay Area’s current leading lights on the psychedelic-meet-prog frontier of heavy music, Mondo Drag seems poised for big things. Founded a decade ago in Davenport, Iowa, by singer/keyboard player John Gamino, guitarist Jake Sheley and guitarist/synth player Nolan Girard (the three have been playing together since their teens), Mondo Drag relocated to Oakland two years ago and added drummer Ventura Garcia and Andrew O’Neil.
The quintet released its first recording with the new line-up last year, an eponymous effort on Riding Easy Records that earned the band some of its best reviews yet with its fuzzed-out guitar leads and swirling Hammond organ and synth grooves. Back in January, prog-metal greats Mastodon hand picked Mondo Drag to open a packed free Converse Rubber Tracks show at the Chapel.
Earlier this year, the group issued its latest album — 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 new record delivers hefty sounds that at times recall the heavy-prog boogie of ’70s British rockers Uriah Heep.
For this show, Mondo Drag is joined by SF psychedelic glam/doom group Glitter Wizard — who recently celebrated the release of their third heavy, headbanging prog-metal album Hollow Earth Tour. Openers Pins of Light are a rising band on San Francisco’s experimental punk rock fringe. Features a talented quartet of musicians with solid pedigrees (veterans of such noted SF bands as Dead and Gone, Triclops!, Hightower, Peace Creep and Night After Night) and a desire to push the boundaries of heavy music.
The band’s 2012 debut for Alternative Tentacles showcased bassist Shane Baker’s growling vocal delivery and a sound that split the difference between two bands anchored by late bass legend Lemmy: the pulsing, riff-driven space rock of Hawkwind and the pummeling, raucous attack of Motörhead. Their latest self-released collection of songs Home boasts more sci-fi sound effects and some of the group’s most compelling songwriting yet. Magic act Matt & Paul Magic also make an appearance.
Friday, Dec. 30, 9 p.m. $10
The Elbo Room