Local Heavy Psych Band Headlines Rickshaw Stop

By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — 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 in 2014 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.

Last year, the group issued its most recent 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 at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, Mondo Drag is joined by a pair of decidedly different support acts. Bluesy, LA-based swamp-punk band Death Hymn Number 9 sound like the sonic heir to the Cramps and the Dwarves and, as anyone who has witnessed their feral live performances, they play the part onstage as well. The group released it’s second album 3rd Degree Moon Burns on SF punk icon Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles record label in 2013, which means the unhinged crew is long overdue to put out new material. Opening local band Buffalo Tooth mines a muscular style of proto metal that recalls unsung early ’70s greats like Sir Lord Baltimore and Dust.

Mondo Drag
Wednesday, May 31, 8 p.m. $11-$13
The Rickshaw Stop

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