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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 8:23 am | A Few Clouds 49º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: The Entrance Band Kicks Out the Jams

A guitar-heavy evening at Jensen's Mainstage

For fans of the heavier side of psychedelic guitar-driven music, the place to be was at the concert by The Entrance Band on Wednesday night. Fittingly, the show took place at Jensen’s Mainstage, part of Jensen Guitar & Music Co.

The evening started with a strong opening set from Marquee, which hails from Ojai. This featured some nice, Hendrix-inspired and tastefully echoed guitar by Elijah Behar, who also sings for the band. They closed with an energetic cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.”

Next up was Lights, which consists of three women: Sophia Knapp on guitar and vocals, Linnea Vedder on drums and vocals, and Alana Amram on bass. With songs ranging from trippy to mellow to funky, their set proved to be a true delight. Most striking were Knapp and Vedder’s sublime vocals, whether alone, harmonizing, or singing the same phrase in unison. Highlights were the playful call-and-response “War Theme,” and funkalicious set-closer “Fire Night.”

Then came the main event: the wall-of-guitar assault from The Entrance Band, whose guitarist and singer Guy Blakeslee turned up the distortion, echo and volume for the ready-to-rock crowd. Blakeslee was joined by bassist Paz Lenchantin, whose pulsating playing was crisp in the mix, and drummer Derek James, whose vigorous drumming drove the beat amid the chaos. Together, they put the “power” in power trio.

Although The Entrance Band’s blues-based psychedelic sound has a retro feel, I had to pick my brain to pin down the specific band that they seem closest to in sound and spirit. The best I could come up with is early Guru Guru, a Krautrock band that shared The Entrance Band’s proclivity, at least in the live setting, toward long, ultra-distorted guitar jams.

A show highlight was “Lookout!”, the lead track on the band’s 2009 self-titled album, the first billed as The Entrance Band. (The 2006 album, Prayer of Death, by Entrance, included contributions from Lenchantin and James, but is viewed more as a Blakeslee solo affair.) Other highlights were “M.L.K.,” which ruminates on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the blessed-by-a-killer-riff (no pun intended), “Grim Reaper Blues.”

Then there was the intense, extended freak-out that closed the main set. Here Blakeslee abused his guitar, scraping it aggressively against the amp, which he also climbed on and kicked around, all while James went nuts on drums. The encore was “You’re So Fine,” whose title and lyrics “kiss me one more time” belie its status as another distortion-heavy guitar romp.

In case there was any doubt, the electric guitar is still alive and well.

Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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