(Live Review) CHURCH OF THE COSMIC SKULL + LORD BUFFALO + SUPPORT - Reggies, Chicago (Aug5/22)
Review by Mark McQueen
Once more the Metal Mayhem Bus of Doom sets forth for Chicago as your intrepid reviewer “The Beard” with irrepressible side kick, (the ragamuffin of Rock and Roll), our own “Little Johnny”, head out to stop number thirty of: The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2022.
Tonight, will be bands #122-125 including: The Church of The Cosmic Skull. (British Rock) Lord Buffalo (Appalachian Rock from Texas) Los Black Dogs (Mexican Psyche Blues) Blue Dream (Chicago psychedelia)
To quote that great philosopher Ozzy Osborne: “If you could see inside my Head, you’d see that Black and White is Red. Flying High Again!” “To the Doom-mobile Little Johnny.”
Upon arrival at Reggie’s, we slid in easily thanks to Chris from The Mighty Decibel. Thank You Brother (Ed. You're welcome!).
Our first impressions. Many folks are coming in costume for COTCS (Church of the Cosmic Skull). We are talking full-on white robes. Turns out these guys bill themselves as both a music group AND a religion. Johnny is already talking to them. I may need to pay attention as this develops.
But first, some opening acts: BLUE DREAM Chicago psyche rockers Blue Dream had semi-clear vocals (but they were not very prominent in the mix, which could have been them or the sound guys fault, but either way, if I cannot hear you properly that is points off). They seemed to be part-psyche, part-prog band. Their main guitarist was extremely energetic and constantly jumping around the stage in full (hippie dancing Misty Mountain Hop style) glory.
Everyone else was a little laid back (which seems appropriate for that style of music). Apparently, the guitarist bogarted all the really-good mushrooms. Johnny enjoyed jumping about with the guitar guy (kind of like how a dog emulates what he sees on the TV), but he is also a little too interested in conversing with the Church of the Cosmic Skull brethren for my tastes.
Blue Dream was an okay opener for this type of show, but I am not going to get too excited overall. Definitely the bouncy guitar guy was the star while the vocals were the weak point. Some nice drumming on their closing number. 77/100
LOS BLACK DOGS Nice bass action. Really solid lines. Guy looked a little like Tommy Chong circa 1973 era. Rest of the band was okay, again nothing amazing, but I did enjoy their kind of rockabilly sound (in both English and Espanola), mixed with some psychedelic touches. Interesting and worth their 40 minutes on stage for uniqueness and novelty: I could see some of this music in a Quinton Tarantino soundtrack somewhere.
Los Black Dogs fused a lot of styles; swing, boogie, rockabilly, psyche blues etc. all these could be found within their musical framework. It was actually kind of catchy. Their singer seems to capture pieces of Glen Danzig, Jim Morrison, and Mexican Elvis.
Oh no, I have now lost track of Johnny. Hmm... this might bode badly. Must check the bar area. In the meantime, I am going with a solid 82/100 for the fusions and uniqueness of the Los Black Dogs experience.
LORD BUFFALO This band uses the fiddle, and they use it a lot. The fiddle is not an enhancement with this band, but rather an essential component. Lord Buffalo is mystic music. It’s like the hillbillies mated with the Wiccans deep in the forests, mountains, and back hills, and this emerged from that Union.
Songs are almost preachy in their delivery, punctuated by repeated key phrases rhythmically boring into your subconscious. It’s like the songs need to get their message through the mist and haze that covers the audience from a lifetime of exasperated dealings amongst a far too morose and malcontent world.
The Buffalo seeks to pierce the veil and let in their message of shadowy light. Songs mix a deep morass with a rich desire to project their message and as the strings screech and squeal, the noise lingers like the cry of “something” just beyond our range of second sight. This is music for a dark hillside in the twilight of a Fall night as the leaves burn, and communicative communion commences.
(I AM aware that is some unnecessary pretentious alliteration).
Overall, a stirring experience and worth a nice 86/100. Still no Johnny though, I am getting a bit worried at this point.
Finally, the headliners.
THE CHURCH OF THE COSMIC SKULL The Church of The Cosmic Skull appeared to grant us their Metal benediction. And THERE’S Johnny right in the front swaying. Oh Boy! Johnny? Where did you get a white robe? And for God’s sake please tell me you are still wearing pants underneath.
British cult rock, The Church of the Cosmic Skull rolled out their unique look and sound and many in the audience who also were dressed in similar all-white robes stood ready to “hear the Word.”
I would by no means call this metal. Rock yes, metal no. They definitely have a look and a style. Mixing layered vocals of both male and female, keys and a driving rhythm section, The Church is a style I did not expect.
Strong crowd reaction and occasionally, I caught Johnny staring at the Mick Fleetwood-esque lead singer with almost rapturous adoration. (Ed. Don't look him in the eyes!) Cult rock indeed.
They do grow on your senses and my thoughts (by the end of the set), were improved from my thoughts after the first few numbers. I never thought they rose to a Beard-elite 90+ rating, but I can see them getting an 84/100 for the total package (looks sound and show). Several of the final numbers were vocally echoed by a fully rapturous crowd. I admit it was actually a very loud crowd sing-along with arm movements.
“Johnny? How do you already know the words?”
The Beard will say, maybe not exactly “his” type of music, but there clearly is a cult following of these guys, and it seems apropos. Church of the Cosmic Skull was a novel and somewhat cathartic experience. (Ed. Damn, I'm jealous that it was Johnny, and not I, donning that robe!) 84/100
And now once again the Beard must gather up Little Johnny and (after finding his ACTUAL clothes again), load him into the Doom mobile and head back for home.