The Power of the Riff kicked off its second year in L.A. with a line-up that would make anyone on the East Coast blind with envy. As if that full day assault of brutal hardcore, metal and crust wasn’t enough, Southern Lord brought their genre and generation crossing festival up the coast with stops in San Francisco and Seattle. Our Southern California correspondent was on the scene for that incredible first day and k martini was onsite for some hardcore action at the Elbo Room in San Francisco. This will be a collaborative post with words from Genji, comments and photos from K Martini and videos lifted from youtube.
Acephalix (Elbo Room)
Black Cobra (Echoplex) via dschalek
All Pigs Must Die (Elbo Room)
Trap Them (Elbo Room)
After catching the bulk of Trap Them‘s set, I decided to dip upstairs to catch two bands I didn’t know at all, Masakari from Cleveland, Ohio and Alpinist from Germany. I was digging on Masakari’s grindcore blasting — they played with great energy on the tiny Echo stage, and while I wasn’t as impressed with Alpinist, I only caught a couple of songs and know they were playing with borrowed equipment so I will reserve judgement. I did however, really appreciate the fact that they came so far to perform at the Power of the Riff so I will be checking out the split ep they did together with Masakari to see if i’ll be catching them the next time around.
Alpinist (Mezzanine) via DanoD
The one conflict of the night finally came to a head when Pelican hit the stage just before Black Breath were headlining the Echo upstairs. As much as I wanted to see Pelican, I know just how good Black Breath are so I sadly decided to pass and head upstairs. My sadness didn’t last more than a couple of minutes as Black Breath simply tore up the Power of the Riff fest with the strongest performance of the day. Cramped on the tiny Echo stage and introducing a new guitarist on his first night didn’t set them back one bit as they hammered out Black Sin, I Am Beyond and others in bone crushing fashion. With that big classic Stockholm buzzsaw guitar sound tearing the place apart and the tight jackhammer beats pounding everyone into submission, Black Breath had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands. The surfers were out in force, the pit was thrashing and all around heads were banging. These guys are definitely on their way to becoming huge, if you haven’t seen them yet, they are a must see.
Black Breath were the #1 reason I was at POTR in San Francisco. Acephalix and All Pigs Must Die were a close second and third, but Black Breath have been a band I’ve been waiting to see for quite some time. I really imersed myself into their crusty death ‘n’ roll when I started my profile on Southern Lord and I’ve been hooked ever since. Unfortunately we left the venue to grab a quick drink with some friends around the corner and when we got back we’d lost our spots at the stage. The place packed in tight for these long hairs from the Pacific Northwest — it seems we weren’t the only ones who expected Black Breath to be a highlight of the night. They put on an amazing (if too short) set and provided just enough to sustain my hunger until next time they come around (hopefully in a headlining capacity). I also finally met Greg Anderson at this point in the night and made sure to thank him for everything he’s doing for extreme music. — K Martini
Black Breath (Echo) via adamlmurray
Winter (Neumo’s) via AbortedSociety
Finally it was time for NOLA sludge legends Eyehategod. After a couple of minutes of feedback and a group cheer they started the bludgeonfest with Blank followed by Shoplift. Though they always seem to play with a special edge and intensity, this time around there was some genuine anger as singer Mike Williams berated the lighting engineer for keeping the projector running while they played (something they had not requested). Once the projector was shut off they seemed to be far more at ease in the comfort of the darkened stage and then they really took off. Pulling out classics like Sister Fucker and 30$ Bag out of their arsenal one after the other, and they even played a new song New Orleans is the New Vietnam which got everyone fired up. Jimmy Bower was simply on fire, his sick, dirty sludge riffs always make me want to take a shower. And drummer Jimmy LaCaze was pounding away like an angry stepchild. They are one of a kind and their performance was outstanding, I can’t wait for them to drop a new album on us.
Eyehategod (Echoplex) via VAMPYRVARGFESTEN
Pentagram (Mezzanine) via DanoD