Sitting here in front of this computer with the incoherent notes of a maniac and a hangover that surely represents the symptoms of electric shock therapy, I can’t help but ask myself WHY? WHY? Why did I decide to write this article? The only saving grace of encouragement is a quote that I wrote down when I asked Rachel Frank how she managed to put this incredible lineup together:
“I just jumped on the WAND show…” Well I hope for this poor boy that the WAND is magical and strong enough to withstand me riding it to a sweet orgasmic victory.
That being said all day I drove during San Diego’s manic rainy days, through storm clouds, glimpses of sun, and shitty driving. The weather seemed all too fitting once I was greeted by the sounds of Sumatraban. My first impression was, how in God’s name have I never heard of this band, and the second was, how could they possibly sound like a tribe of rabid hyenas fucking over the Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light”. Perhaps that’s a bit of a leap, but the sheer energy of this band was primal and compositionally frantic while maintaining a rhythmical groove (all things I love and appreciate in bands, hence “Remain in Light”).
I found myself moving much like the guitarist and vocalist Glen Galloway, who plays his Danelectro without the safety net of a guitar strap. Why? Don’t ask stupid questions. He just happens to able to bend backward, forward and side to side, playing pinky stretching jazz chords, alternating bass notes down the neck with a clever use of his octave pedal all whilst singing sharp vocal phrases in the vein of great punk rock crooners. The other members were no slouches either: Preston Swirnoff weaved thematic riffs and short melodic punctuations on both guitar and his acetone organ; T.S. Ward rounded off the sound with his charming smiles, tom-heavy driven beats and tasteful yet raunchy snare fills. This band is different, magnificently different, and for that I’m grateful to have witnessed their feliform carnivora orgy.
Next up was Tijuana’s “ambassadors of vicio” San Pedro El Cortez, and after this performance, Trump definitely made the wall ten feet taller (so make sure to book them for your sister’s quinceñera soon). Dangerous, looming, drunk and unequivocally talented at playing in this state, this band has grown to become one of my favorite bands (period).
They disemboweled the place with hard driving rock n’ roll and sheer attitude, as rock n’ roll should be played. The guitarist Diego Cordoba and Aris Chagoya played garage heavy chords and LSD B.B. King solos (vibrato heavy) through tiny orange, and fender practice amps. Each shared rhythms and leads throughout the set as they split their time between writhing on the floor on the floor and bouncing off the walls. They’ve evolved since I saw them two years ago; their driving garage choruses and verses are still prominent in the music but they’ve implemented elongated bridges and extended jams that at times border the improvisations of krautrock. This is most certainly due to the stickiness of the rhythm section. Both Edgar Collins (bass) and Mario Alacaron (drums) are pivotal in signaling and guiding the wild parts away from and back to the arranged parts of the song.
Yes, they play a form of dirty psychedelic garage rock like so many other bands these days but unlike the “others” they are a force that exist in a different cultural vein. It’s audible in their music, and if you’ve ever been to Tijuana, then you know the sharp contrast it has from the world of San Diego. Their sound is of a different realm, the realm of corruption, mariachi, drugs, hustle, poverty, chiclé (insert stereotypes) and most importantly, a great and largely ignored artistry that has and will continue to breathe new life into the California music scene.
If WAND was a child they were most certainly raised by a single mother contortionist, after their acrobatic father died in a gruesome tiger attack when he stepped in for the lion tamer. What I’m trying to get at is, WAND is malleable they can’t be summed up by one genre or two or even three (well maybe in three). To me they swim through elements of the Brooklyn art rock scene, the California 60’s psych & garage empire and the stoner/doom metal movements of bands such as Sleep. They’re a 21st century band in the information age but unlike many who try, WAND coherently melds these genres into a single musical tapestry that is uniquely WAND.
At this particular show, they gave an exemplary rendition of this by sound checking to “Sultans of Swing” and then proceeding to enchant the entire audience with their subtle and grotesque changes of musical landscape. People were head banging at one moment and in the next lulled by some ecstatic dreamscape. They do this in the way they shift themes as a band; it never seems forced or contrived and that’s greatly due to the innate talent they have.
Cory’s ethereal voice and Sophia’s harmonies compliment each other divinely and remain constant throughout the entire set. Cory and Robbie as guitarist have impeccable choices of chords, pedals (sound) and the ability to use these tools to construct layers of lustful texture and doom driven nightmares. Sophia certainly enhances the melodies with her own touch of long pad synths and electric piano. Evan Burrows is a drummer (poet) with the uncanny ability to remain stylistically himself through out all the gender/genre bending that WAND calls for. He and Lee Landley succeed in carrying the dynamics of each song stunningly with ease and precision. Landley also has a perfect groove for the music, coupled with a stellar choice of tone for each song, in particular the driving tone on songs like “Lower Order”.
WAND is a band that I’m finding hard to write about due to their use of the entire palette. There’s clearly a vision they share and a collective way they must write that makes their sound what it is. All that remains to be said is this: they were a stellar way to end the night and definitely a band everyone should get to know, as I did at the merch table with perhaps too many drinks in me. They were sweet, remarkably humble, and good people to have a chat with.