Most metal fans are aware of the large indents that Wino’s (aka Scott Weinrich) fingers have left around the trachea of doom metal. Most famous for stepping in to St. Vitus as their second and most well-known singer as he stepped out of the first set of ashes of The Obsessed, his particularly insightful brand of singing and guitar playing has influenced pretty much anyone who’s even thought about playing in a drop D tuning.
Wino’s never been involved with a dud, but for my money, Spirit Caravan could be his finest moment to date, and when the first dates since 2002 were announced, anticipation crackled across the doom community. The original lineup didn’t even get to the first gig though, as some friction between Wino and drummer Gary Isom led to a quick substitution of Henry Vasquez (also in St. Vitus) behind the kit. As the gig started, the power of Vasquez was undeniable, and he left more splintered pieces of wood than Mariano Rivera. Sherman and Wino were locked in, and everything was great, except for the vocals. The PA could barely coax a few extra decibels over speaking volume, and it was lost in the mix (granted, this video was taken from under the house PA, but you get the idea…
Wino was getting increasingly fed up with it and went from simple insults to inferred bodily harm to murderous threats, while Sherman was trying to play good cop (“getting there, bro, almost there”). Meanwhile, Vasquez was having his own source of frustration, sourced from crowd members knocking into themselves and into his kit. After one song, he stood up, fixed his fallen hi-hat, and amidst a blizzard of f bombs, it looked like he was going to jump into the crowd to address the issue himself. It was that kind of night. Wino’s mic and stand eventually crumpled under his fist and boot, Sherman donated his stand and in process screwed up his bass input jack as he walked across stage and the cord got caught and pulled tight, and Vasquez knocked his kit off the stage in frustration at the end. Despite the technical challenges, hearing spine-crushers like “Cosmic Artifact” and “Black Flower” (the first song to really whip the crowd into a frenzy) was a much-needed blast from the past that still sounded timeless.
Hometown doomers Pilgrim had an unusual look as they took the stage, a shirtless bass player who looked like he could play with Fugazi, a bearded and balding singer/guitarist who could have designed a diabolical funhouse in a demented travelling carnival, and whatever the drummer looked like. The kit rack toms were about the size of regular floor toms, but I’m pretty sure I saw an arm flailing about once in a while. They played a slower, methodical form of doom that’s found some popularity with the likes of Pallbearer; good stuff.