By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Formed in the East Bay in 2013 by a group of musicians who had more experience playing bluegrass than hard rock, Oakland quintet Skunk put a tuneful twist on what should be a worn-out formula of mixing heavy guitar riffs and weed-focused lyrics. The creative outlet for guitarist Dmitri Mavra (who writes the music and lyrics for the songs in addition to designing the band’s album art and t-shirts), Skunk caught a number of ears when it made a collection of demos entitled Heavy Rock From Elder Times available for listening and download in 2015.
With echoes of admitted cornerstone inspirations Zeppelin, Sabbath and Kiss (along with a touch of influence from more obscure ’70s proto-metal outfits like Budgie, Cactus and Sir Lord Baltimore), songs like “Forest Nymph” and “Wizard Bong” showcased crunching tandem riffs from Mavra and singer John McKalvy’s leering, nasal snarl that recalls late AC/DC frontman Bon Scott and vocalist Gary “Angry” Anderson from fellow Aussie rock outfit Rose Tattoo.
Besides finding fans among the global network of stoner rock enthusiasts who discovered the demo, Skunk cultivated a local following, playing regular gigs with like-minded Bay Area heavy hitters like Zed, Blackwülf and Older Sun. Last year, the band self-released its potent debut album Doubleblind to wide acclaim, refining the powerful sonic stew displayed on its demos (four of those songs were polished up with new recordings) to new heights on the cowbell-banging “Mountain Child” and the shades of early Rush heard on the swaggering anthem “Harvest Queen.”
For this headlining show at the Bottom of the Hill Sunday night, Skunk celebrates the recent vinyl release of Doubleblind through European imprint Mothervan Records. They will be joined by eclectic local global-groove group Amy & the Elements led by singer-songwriter Amy Obenski and San Francisco roots-rock Americana act Uncle Riffkin.
Sunday, January 21, 8 p.m. $10-$12
Bottom of the Hill