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Spirit Caravan Played With Drummer Ed Gulli From The Obsessed

Doom metal icons Wino and Dave Sherman rolled into Austin with Spirit Caravan, a group that has twenty years of history under their vests. Of course, Dave and Wino are the core of the group, so they remained part of the group, but the drummer was different than the last time I saw them in 2014. Saint Vitus basher Henry Vasquez was behind the kit at that show. Tonight, Ed Gulli played drums. He was the original The Obsessed drummer. This tour showed him reunite with Wino after thirty years.

The Lost Well played host to the American Icon Records’ event, which meant an intimate setting with Spirit Caravan. Being away from downtown’s entertainment district was a plus, too, as parking was free—just a short walk from a neighborhood street to the venue. The stage is fairly small, the lights low and the venue doesn’t hold very many people. I estimate there may have been a hundred people in attendance, but there is an outdoor patio to chill at and have a smoke.

Hometown pscyh rockers Greenbeard opened up the night. The power trio has been active playing shows around the city such as Austin psych fest. Their bassist Dan Alvarez was a familiar face but not for this band. Previously, he played in the black metal group Skan. Greenbeard is a far cry from black metal. They played desert grooves that remind of Kyuss at time, but only in part. They had a heavy blues quality to their music that was upbeat and fun.

Destroyer of Light is becoming one of the most recognizable heavy groups in the Austin area. The group has also spread it’s LSD-laced doom grooves across America. Most recently they released a split album called “Endsville” with fellow doom merchants God Hunter. This four-piece put on a mind-blowing performance. After having a smoke, I walked in on Steve Colca during a droning segment with his voice amid colossally long notes that filled with the airwaves with diabolical intentions. The group played material from said split album as well as forthcoming material like “The Virgin.” They received an excellent response from the crowd.

Dirty Streets pushed the tempo much further than Destroyer of The Light before them, but the crowd seemed less energetic. I think most people didn’t know who Dirty Streets was, while Destroyer of Light is constantly in the public’s eyes in Texas’ state capitol. Still, the group was a good choice for Spirit Caravan to take out on the road. Their style is not nearly as dark as the doom of Destroyer of Light and Spirit Caravan, but they had much chops and played with a lot of soul. Very stoney like openers Greenbeard, but a style that recalls classic rock groups like Hendrix and Blue Cheer. They create catchy hooks and boogie-down rhythms. I can see this band sounding good with headphones and a fat joint.

Any band featuring Wino is always a treat, but seeing the rhythm section of Ed Gulli and Dave Sherman was extra special. The two played off each other brilliantly. As stated earlier, Gulli was the original drummer with Wino in The Obsessed, so after thirty years of being apart, it was a historic site to see him bash the skins with Wino again. Anyone familiar with Spirit Caravan’s catalogue of releases knows they play some The Obsessed songs. The Obsessed even released a song called Spirit Caravan. Tonight, in addition to stoner down-tempo rhythms of Spirit Caravan’s songs, the group played several The Obsessed tunes including ones that are on Spirit Caravan albums like “Melancholy Grey” and “Kill Ugly Naked.” The group brought up an old friend, Crib Death to sing “Kill Ugly Naked.” This song really pointed out the punk influences in the band, which I’m sure was part of the reason The Obsessed got along with the punk scene in Washington D.C.

The upbeat and oh-so memorable “Streamlined” and equally memorable chorus of “Neatz Brigade” were two other The Obsessed songs that made it into their set. Considering the members and the set, the show seemed like a The Obsessed concerts. Gulli jokingly told me after the show that he teases Dave Sherman, telling him that he plays in The Obsessed. Gulli obviously had to practice the old The Obsessed songs before going out on tour as well as the Spirit Caravan material, which he wasn’t a part of till now. He played hard and had no problem with his timing. Whether he was scaling his guitar in a solo or just producing infectious riffs, Wino’s performance was amazing as always. It was an enjoyable site watching Sherman fill in the deep pockets of Wino’s riffs. Sherman who is also known for Earthride is certainly one of the best players in the field of doom.

Spirit Caravan has only released two full-length albums in the 1990s and early new millennium. These releases have proven classic and more than a decade later, fans are still coming out to see them performed. Those wanting more take comfort in the fact that the group has new material right around the corner. Expect a new album to drop in the beginning of the new year.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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