By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A force on the San Francisco underground for over a decade, veteran proto-punk quartet Hot Lunch was founded by singer Eric Shea after the split of his muscular retro-rock outfit Parchman Farm in 2006. Features talented locals including former Mensclub guitar hero Aaron Nudelman and the pulverizing rhythm section of drummer Rob Alper — ex-The Sermon as well as guitarist with reunited Sacto garage-punks SLA — and bassist Charlie Karr (best known for his work with the Alternative Tentacles band Harold Ray Live in Concert), the group soon became a fixture in S.F. clubs with their fiery live performances.
However, the gestation of Hot Lunch’s first album would take considerably longer. Funding their own recording sessions in 2012, Shea and company captured the fuzzed-out fury of its stage show on analog tape at Louder Studios with lauded producer Tim Green (Comets on Fire, Melvins, Sebadoh, Earthless) just prior to Green relocating the facility from San Francisco to his new home in Grass Valley. Unlike the many acts who do little more than mimic the sonic template of influential early ’70s bands, Hot Lunch interweaves elements of skate punk, psychedelia and prog rock into their unique sound.
The eponymous album’s 2013 release on the small German label Who Can You Trust? in Europe and Tee Pee Records stateside led to sponsored recordings and concert appearances for Scion A/V and Converse, considerably raising the band’s profile. And for good reason: Echoes of the MC5 and other more obscure ’70s riff rockers like Sir Lord Baltimore and Dust can be heard in the headlong drive of “Handy Denny,” “She Wants More,” and the wah-wah fueled “Killer Smile,” but the more straightforward salvos are balanced by a number of equally potent curve balls.
The band boldly recasts a tune by prog-rock power trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, transforming “Knife Edge” from a virtuoso keyboard workout to a doom-laden dose of guitar mayhem. The album’s second side ventures even further afield, unspooling an Arthurian legend on the nearly eight-minute “Lady of the Lake.” Replete with lyrics about wild mushrooms and crystal harps, the multipart song even has a British-accented spoken-word soliloquy that brings to mind “The Necromancer” from Rush’s heady third album Caress of Steel.
Since then, the quartet has issued a number of singles and EPs, most recently the five track Scion A/V collection Slappy Sunday that was released for free download in 2015 and a new 45 for European label Who Can You Trust? Records earlier this year. While the band tracked songs for their forthcoming second album a year ago, fans are still waiting for word as to exactly when Hot Lunch will be unleashing that anticipated slab of rock. For their final performance at one of the band’s regular haunts, the sadly soon-to-be shuttered Hemlock Tavern, the group will be joined by like-minded SF heavy rock outfit Banquet, new local psych band Psychic Hit and openers Blow.
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m. $10