Photo by JOSH-PELTA-HELLER
It’s almost 10:00 PM Thursday night when Stephen McBean and his merry band of psych-metal minions emerged from backstage at Underground Arts, rendered as silhouettes by stage lighting and smoke machine, and unleashed the fuzzy electric buzz of “High Rise,” from their latest record, Destroyer.
At 50, McBean is an unassuming frontman, silver beard framed by the shoulder-length hair that shrouds his face for most of the evening, as he wrestles with his guitars and considers the evening’s extensive pedal decisions. McBean paces back and forth between flanking keyboardists Jeremy Schmidt and Rachel Fannan to commune with his Marshall stacks, and returns to his microphone for vocal phrasings colored by Fannan’s much higher harmonies, the Grace Slick to his Marty Balin.
For almost two hours, McBean and co. unleashed a set of spaceage stoner rock, walls of distortion noise part Black Sabbath and part Buck Rogers, from the robotic intro of “Horns Arising” to the ten-minute jam on the synth-heavy “Space To Bakersfield,” and the Guitar-Hero-worthy riffs of “Mothers Of The Sun.” There’s no stage banter, no formalities — just doom and dark arts. — JOSH PELTA-HELLER