Live review: John Garcia & The Band Of Gold, The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, January 24, 2020

Words: Jose Zamora | Photos: Jose Sanchez

On a cosy 21-degree night, Melbourne was about to warm up considerably thanks to the desert/stoner rock of John Garcia & The Band Of Gold and their supports.  Melbourne band The Nicoteenagers were chosen to kick the night off at 9pm with a half-hour set, delivering songs from their first LP ‘A Tale For Two’ to a venue that was starting to get busy as they progressed with their set.  The band’s performance was top quality – the energy flowing across the bandroom leaving the attendants pumped for the rest of the night.

At 10pm sharp, Don Fernando jumped on stage to let the crowd know that the night was about stoner rock. The intro/statement of intent made the speakers growl wildly in order to get straight into Don’t Go, a song from the 2008 album ‘The banquet of…’.  As space was getting tighter and the venue’s temperature was raising, the band gave us a look into their albums with killer tunes such as the fast and savage Take You and the shady and dark Haunted by Humans. Welcome to the Fold was there to give a break for a moment before the guitars from Andy Simpson and Brad Young started to crunch heavily.

Simpson was committed to his band’s performance, pouring water on his head between songs, singing like it was either his first or last show.  The trip continued with Motherload and as The Setting Sun was played as the set came to a close.  Attendants singing along with the chorus “Ohh, yeah, alright!” of High Banking Hell and whiplashing their heads were the essence of the band’s performance. With just a forty-minute set, Don Fernando definitely proved why they were the support act for the whole John Garcia Australian tour.

Led Zeppelin songs were the soundtrack of the night from the local decks between bands’ sets.  At 11:56pm, All My Love was on, the venue was packed and ready as the hype started to rise. Finally, six minutes after the lights went off, the screens on each side of the stage showed a video simulating a trip in the California desert where the legendary parties were held.

Guitarist Ehre Groban, bassist Mike Pygmie and drummer Greg Saenz walked onto the stage to grab their gear and began to play the instrumental first track Space Vato from their latest self-titled record. They then went straight into the opening riffs of a classic Kyuss song, Gardenia, when Garcia jumped onto the stage and the crowd lost it and sang along to the whole song.

The third song, Jim’s Whiskers from the latest album, proved Garcia has still got the class, swag and elegance. The band then went back to another classic from the ‘Welcome To Sky Valley’ album, the frenetic Conan Troutman. More tunes were played from the self-titled album, including Kentucky II, Chicken Delight and My Everything, but the band alternated these with songs such as Cowboys Suck from Hermano, Garcia’s one-off project, and Thumb, a dense, deep and hypnotic classic from Kyuss’s second 1992 album ‘Blues For The Red Sun’. Don’t Even Think About It was played to end the tracks from their more recent album.

Saenz started pounding his drums for the opening of another Kyuss song, Hurricane, and the rest of the band with Garcia as the commander joined in.  Two more tracks from ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’ appeared – the trippy and cool Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop along with the eight-minute-long, Whitewater, a bizarre and brilliant song that would work perfectly on a LSD trip.  The encore made the people go wilder as they wanted to hear more Kyuss but, there was a treat on its way – The Prizefighter from Slo Burn – the band in which Garcia only recorded an EP. Last but not least, the riff of Green Machine took care of demolishing the place completely.  Indeed, the smell of weed was strong throughout the crowd. Though 90 percent of the attendants were over 30 years old, people jumped and pushed each other around while they were singing along with Garcia with only one purpose – to remember how these songs made them feel when they were young.

To view photos in their high res glory, click ‘view full size’ when browsing gallery.

The Nicoteenagers

Don Fernando

John Garcia & The Band Of Gold

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