The place was filling out by ten o'clock when Seattle native Rick Bishop attempted to set the mood down a notch with some meditative Indian-inspired noodling - but the crowd was unfortunately too riled up to realize they'd just paid a cover charge to loudly imbibe well drinks in the same room as one of the world's greatest living guitarists. Poor socialites. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps not, Bishop seemed somewhat distant, and performed as if to just get it out of the way. Nonetheless, his aggressive playing careened through realms of flamenco, raga, Persian, surf, and the many other remarkably disparate styles he's known for fusing. Even doing a number of uncharacteristic (and lewd) vocal tracks, he also stepped back into some old Sun City Girls material (“Opium Den”, among others). A truly one-of-a-kind artist that doesn't tour too often these days - it would be worth making it out to any of the other dates on this tour just to experience the tricks crafted by this magician.
“Go ahead and smoke your legal pot now!” Bishop said, giving way to the powerhouse that is OM. The night then took a sharp turn for the heavy. The newest longplayer from these guys immediately sounds leagues away from anything within the stoner/doom metal that they’re often associated with. Tibetan chants roll into the evenly paced heartbeat of the tabla, eventually enlightened with a dramatic cello. The second track introduces walloping electric bass and all the other stuff we’re used to, but not for long. A tamboura’s drone sweeps in, dividing the album with further Arabic scales and sentiments, and blah blah blah.
That’s what the album sounds like, but the show they brought to the Highline was loud, raucous, and by all means, not acoustic. Emil Amos’ drums were absolutely, penetratingly on point. Some of his fills had jaws dropping to the floor. Bass from Al Cisneros carried everything so well you’d forget that guitars are even supposed to be in metal - along with his ultra-manly vocals that make you forget he’s using four-and-five-syllable words that seem culled from an ancient religious studies textbook. A surprise appearance from ambient (though ‘unclassifiable’ is a better genre-ism) artist Lichens added depth and meshed perfectly. At times he would unfurl his unique vocalizations – others he would play a seething organ that slithered into a song and grow and grow until it exploded into an over-modulated screech to the heavens, somehow just fitting right in. This was a hell of a show, people. So once again; if you reside in one of the other western cities on this tour, do yourself a favor and cough up the $13-20 that it takes to get in. But if you’re going to try and talk over the music the entire time, it’s alright for you to stay home.