The slogan emblazoned on the Switchblade Jesus T-shirt read “Heavy Riff Smokers.” And while those three words are meant to describe the heavy music purveyed by the Corpus Christi, Texas-based rockers, they also wrap up neatly what was going on all night long during the second and final night of the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta that took place Feb. 27 at the 191 Toole venue in downtown Tucson, Arizona.
Switchblade Jesus were just one of eight bands that rattled the rafters at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta, so named because guitars played through a fuzz tone effect are a mainstay at the festival where all of the participating bands play some sort of heavy rock with an emphasis on stoner rock and psychedelia. And speaking of psychedelia, bands and fans alike were treated to a trippy, non-stop light show put on by Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show who projected a mind-blowing montage of moving images onto the backdrop of the two stages.
Dirty, Irish Mike and Opie, the members of Phoenix-based power trio Sounds Like Murder, kicked off the evening with a set of new songs informed by ’70s hard rock and sludge rock which singer (and bass man) Dirty punctuated with occasional Ian Astbury-like growls and howls. Dandy Brown, from Joshua Tree, California, played a set of his high desert fuzz rock, including songs like “Santa Fe Trail” which Brown explained was named after the street he once lived on. Fans who visited the merch tables could pick up a free seven-song CD sampler of Brown’s music; the giveaway was just one of many goodies that bands were handing out at no charge.
Other bands appearing were Cloud Catcher; their set included versions of their songs “Visions” and “Beyond the Electric Sun.” Blackwülf played a set that consisted mostly of songs from their Oblivion Cycle album, including “Faith Healer,” “Colossus” and “Acid Reign.” Before the evening was through, Waxy, Yawning Man and Fuzz Evil had also turned in riff heavy sets.
The inaugural Borderland Fuzz Fiesta in 2015 was only a one-day event; this year’s expansion to two days also allowed for an opening day packed with shows by Dead Meadow, Fatso Jetson, Blaak Heat, Big Mean, Funeral Horse, Zed and Dead Canyon.
Lots of Borderland Fuzz Fiesta merch was available, as was merch from every band. A food truck and a guitar raffle also added to the fun.
For more information about Borderland Fuzz Fiesta visit the festival’s Facebook page.