Tokin’ up and rockin’ out in LA
It was a week before the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup was set to open its doors in San Bernardino, and I once again found myself in the City of Lost Angels looking for some excitement. Luckily, I didn’t have to look far: that Friday night, my buddies in the stoner rock/reggae band Lionize happened to be holding a record-release party for their latest album, Jetpack Soundtrack, at Swinghouse Studios in Hollywood—and fellow pot star Danny Danko and I were already on the guest list.
The Lionize guys were as happy to see us as we were to see them. Since the last time we’d been together, they’d parted ways with their drummer Mel and now introduced us to his replacement, Chase. Jetpack—which played on a loop over the PA—leans less toward reggae and more toward rock than their earlier efforts. As singer Nate Bergman made the rounds and did the obligatory glad-handing with various media folk, Danny and I took full advantage of the free beer. After Nate gave us the nod us that it would be okay to blaze, we fired up a few joints and got the band and a few of their friends high.
Afterward, bassist Hank suggested that we walk a few blocks over to the legendary Pink’s Hot Dogs for a late snack. Having missed dinner (and the party’s free finger foods), our stomachs heartily agreed. That bacon-chili-cheese dog, onion rings and cream soda tasted like heaven going down. It was holy hell, however, when it came out the next morning.
The following night, my pal Arthur invited me to a killer stoner rock showcase at El Cid, a Mexican club on Sunset. The lineup included his band—former Doobie Award winners House of Broken Promises—as well as LA scene staples Sasquatch and a band I’d never heard of, called Ultra Mega something-or-other. The show was doubling as the birthday party for a rocker chick named Mariana. I’d never met her, but as her other guests began to arrive, it became obvious that we had a lot of mutual friends: There was Arthur, of course; and Fly PR founder Ilka Pardinas; and promoter Laurie Es (who curated NYC’s happening stoner rock party Dosage at the Continental club during the mid- to late ’90s); and former Monster Magnet/Atomic Bitchwax guitarist Ed Mundell, who I was stoked to learn would be performing as well—in that third band, whose actual name was Ultra Electric Mega Galactic. I was also happy to see another good friend, former HT managing editor and columnist Natasha “Vaporella” Lewin, who moved to LA about two years ago and now works in the movie biz. After catching up over a few Stellas (and some less-than-stellar appetizers), I was ready for some serious headbanging.
First onstage was Ultra Electric, who delivered an incredible set of mostly instrumental psychedelic blues rock with effervescent ease. Sitting in as an additional guest guitarist was Duane Hutter from Jersey rockers Blacka Nasa. Next up was HOBP, who picked up the pace and really brought the heavy: With his long beard, bald head and demonic facial expressions, Arthur is one of the wildest ax-men around. Finally came the power trio Sasquatch. Drummer Rick Ferrante was pulling double duty that night, as he’s also the drummer for Ultra Electric. He and the boys laid down a thick slice of that old-school-style jam metal that fires up my soul like a blowtorch on a titanium nail.
With such a potent mix of hard-groovin’ tunes, cold brews and long-time friends, it felt just like the good old Dosage days—except that instead of going backstage to blaze, I was doing dab hits from my vape pen right there on the dance floor. As the famous French proverb (as quoted by Rush in “Circumstances”) has it: “The more that things change, the more they stay the same.”
Watch a clip from the concert here.