Article & Photos by Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
I cannot even begin to count how many times I have been to the Observatory in Santa Ana, Cali. It seems as if, either I or my photographer amigo, Matt Martinez, go to that venue at least once or twice a month, maybe even three times. Whether it is in the main stage room or the intimate Constellation Room, we are usually headed back there, in order to catch the next act that comes that way. Well, on Sunday, October 1st, I was on my way there for another grand heavy metal showcase, featuring the return of the sludge metal giants, Superjoint. This fascinating hardcore outfit was put together by legendary Pantera frontman, Phil Anselmo. The band has been on hiatus for quite some time, but they have returned to kick ass and take some names, along with DevilDriver, King Parrot, Cane Hill, and Child Bite.
Child Bite was first on the stage, but I unfortunately did not get the opportunity to allow them to blow my mind, for I was busy kicking Superjoint’s road crew’s ass in poker. I did, however, get to listen to them from backstage and really enjoyed their sound. Next time, I will be sure to catch them.
Up next is a young group from New Orleans, Lou., calling themselves Cane Hill. This is a band that combines the elements of metalcore, nu metal, and alternative metal. They are a ferocious quartet, that has tremendous flow and melody in their sound. Vocalist Elijah Witt is fierce with his words. Not only can he be aggressive, but he can also spit out a rhyme in a hip-hop sense. Guitarist James Barnett, pulls down double duty by playing heavy riffs and swift solos that made me imitate his fingering. Some of their songs were a headbanging delight, from “Fountain of Youth” to “Too Far Gone” and “(The New) Jesus.” Recently signed to Rise Records, they dropped their debut LP, Smile, last year and things have been looking good for these guys. Cane Hill is one of metalcore’s newest golden boys.
Full Cane Hill slideshow below:
King Parrot is a group I was not all too familiar with. Having just put out Ugly Produce, they come all the way from Melbourne, Australia, and I was instantly attracted to their grindcore sound. Frontman Matthew “Youngy” Young, was just entertaining to watch, being very guttural with his vocals. With no shirt and sporting his pot belly, Youngy made it look sexy in a metal kind of way. When he got his hands water, he would ejaculate it into the crowd, and he would pour cans of beer into a fans mouth. It was quite a sight to witness. They played snarling riffs thanks to the duo guitar efforts of both Andrew “Squiz” Livingstone-Squires and Ari “Mr. White” White. Bassist Wayne “Slatts” Slattery got down with some splendid bass beats. With songs like “Entrapment,” “Need No Saviour,” “Home Is Where The Gutter Is,” and “Shit On The Liver,” King Parrot brought out untapped energy to the crowd. Youngy is a wild man on stage, and he makes trashiness look glamorous.
Full King Parrot slideshow below:
For the second time this year, DevilDriver returned to Santa Ana. Matt and I saw them earlier this year as the headliner, and they still sound glorious. Their leader, Dez Fafara, brings heavy metal righteousness, every time his lips touch the microphone. From “Clouds Over California” to “Trust No One” and “My Night Sky,” his voice soars high enough, so that the metal Gods Lemmy and Dio can hear him. Guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann light up the room with their twin riff attacks, and Tiemann ascends with melodic, rapid solos, especially on “Daybreak.” Drummer Austin D’Amond crashes with aggressive authority, while touring bassist Diego “Ashes” Ibarra holds his own, while plucking away the notes. Though he is not an official member, I believe Ashes belongs with them, the chemistry works. What else is there to say about DevilDriver that has not been said before; always a pleasure to headbang to them.
Full DevilDriver slideshow below:
Finally, I got my chance to see what Superjoint was all about. The sludge metal legends wasted no time in getting down and dirty with their fans. Anselmo reaches deep down into his gut, and pulls out wretchedness in his voice. It is so rough, harsh, and the fans just ate it up, like it was candy. He has this special bond with the audience, like he understands them in his own way. Whenever he spoke to them, he seemed incoherent and slurred his words, but I believe that is who he is. The “Kid” was back in the game for another round.
Celebrating their 2016 release, Caught Up in the Gears of Applications, Superjoint laid out the hardcore cruelness of their signature sound. I enjoyed the twin guitar riffs performed beautifully by Jimmy Bower and Kevin Bond. There were a couple of times where Bower’s guitar strap came off, but he refused to let that stop him from pleasing the fans. Both he and Bond even took turns in performing top-notch solos. Their songs were heavy and brought a message of stopping the bullshit in the world. Some of those songs included “Ozena,” “Asshole,” “The Alcoholik,” “Burning the Blanket,” and “The Destruction of a Person.” Add in the infectious rhythmic section of drummer Jose Gonzalez and bassist Stephen Taylor, Superjoint laid waste to their loyal followers.
Full Superjoint slideshow below:
It was another hell-raising night at the Observatory. I finally got to watch Anselmo in all his rock ‘n’ roll glory. Superjoint’s brand of heavy metal fun was just what the doctor ordered. Cane Hill is a fantastic band, with a bright future ahead of them, King Parrot are on their way to becoming grindcore kings, and DevilDriver is California’s unsung groove metal conquerors. It is never a dull night when I spend it at the Observatory, and I do not think that will change any time soon. To Superjoint and friends, I salute you. Horns up!!!