By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Three stalwarts of the California psychedelic scene team up for a pair of Bay Area concerts in San Jose and San Francisco when San Diego riff rockers Radio Moscow are joined by local heroes Glitter Wizard and Feral Ohms.
Started in the early 2000s by guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Parker Griggs while still living in the small Iowa town of Story City, Radio Moscow was essentially a one-man project with Griggs playing everything on early recordings, though he eventually recruited collaborators to perform the material live. The guitarist handed off a demo of the project’s initial Hendrix-tinged psychedelic garage rock offerings to Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, who helped get the band signed to Alive Naturalsound Records.
Auerbach would produce the band’s eponymous 2007 debut and collaborate on a couple of tunes with Griggs, but by the time the band issued it’s celebrated follow-up Brain Cycles two years later, Griggs had taken over production duties. Mining a sound that nodded heavily to mainstream heavyweights like Hendrix and Zeppelin but still digging into the more underground psychedelic blues of the Groundhogs and Blue Cheer, Radio Moscow quickly found an audience attracted by Griggs’ blazing guitar style, gruff vocals and high-octane tunes.
While there would be a steady turnover in bandmates — bassist Zach Anderson played on both Brain Cycles and 2011’s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz — an onstage meltdown during a 2012 tour between Griggs and then drummer Cory Berry ended with the guitarist getting beaned in the head by a thrown guitar. Griggs quickly convened a new trio to continue the tour while Anderson and Berry went on to form the similar sounding psych outfit Blue Pills.
The guitarist would eventually establish a stable line-up of the power trio and relocate to San Diego where bassist Anthony Meier (who also plays in hard psych band Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone were based, recording the well-received Magical Dirt in 2014 after some extensive road testing of the songs. The band would also document its fiery interplay with the concert album Live! In California in 2016. Last year, the band announced a major move, switching labels to Century Media for the release of the acclaimed psychedelic guitar workout New Beginnings last year.
For this pair of Bay Area dates, Griggs and company will share the stage with SF psychedelic glam/stoner-metal group Glitter Wizard. Originally formed in Santa Cruz before relocating to San Francisco, Glitter Wizard has been bashing out its unique style of over-the-top hard rock for over a decade. Twisting together elements of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer and Black Oak Arkansas (Wendy Stonehenge, the band’s outlandishly Spandex-clad lead singer, works the stage in a high-energy frenzy that recalls Jim “Dandy” Mangrum), the group independently released several singles and full-length efforts before putting its third headbanging space-boogie opus Hollow Earth Tour out through Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016.
Opening the show will be corrosive local power trio Feral Ohms. Aanchored by renowned Bay Area guitarist Ethan Miller who founded Comets on Fire and Howlin Rain and more recently became part of the psych supergroup Heron Oblivion, since 2011 Feral Ohms has been delivering a deafening, fuzzed-out fury that recalls the lysergic caveman stomp of late ’60s underground legends Blue Cheer and Sir Lord Baltimore while hearkening back to Miller’s most unhinged early work with CoF.
After putting out a string of 7-inch singles for a variety of imprints including SF boutique label Valley King and Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, in 2016 the threesome issued a frenetic live recording tracked at the Chapel in San Francisco on Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer’s Castle Face Records. Last year, the trio offered up it’s self-titled studio debut released on Miller’s own Silver Current label that manages (barely) to contain the ferocity of the band’s onstage assault.
More recently, Silver Current put out a limited edition box set of the band’s singles that quickly sold out. The band kicks off these stacked shows with its current line-up featuring longtime drummer Chris Johnson and recent addition Phil Manley (Trans Am, the F—ing Champs, Life Coach, Terry Gross) on bass. The groups play the Ritz in San Jose Thursday before coming to the Great American Music Hall on Friday.
Radio Moscow with Glitter Wizard and Feral Ohms
Thursday, Sept. 6, 8 p.m. $12-$15
Friday, Sept. 7, 8:30 p.m. $15-$18
Great American Music Hall