10FtWizThe Black Heart has been steadily baking in brilliant summer heat ahead of this gig. There’s the promise of fuzzy riffs and stoner grooves to add a little sweat to the steady stream of punters making their way upstairs. Tonight’s headliners are Ten Foot Wizard and there’s plenty to fire up the environment before their arrival.

Leo And The Bear are making their live debut tonight and it’s a confident opening blast. Mixing clean and growled vocals over a very focused and intent arrangement, they manage to capture everyone’s attention quickly. The set has moments of outright, ferocious, blast beat driven rage to proggy loveliness but they always manage to get that groove going. Dave Mitten on vocals is clearly enjoying himself and works the room nicely. For a first gig they’ve done the job in style and will have won over many fans.

Taking the stage next is the sight of three chaps that look like stoner death metal meets a freak out Alice Cooper  – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters. Surely this is one of the best band names ever. Garish looking, painted riff lords conjuring Sabbathian riffs from the netherworld, this is classic stuff from the outset. They live up to their name with massive rolling, mountain sized riffs. Tinged with psyche rock and smoky, bellowing rhythms and vocals, the ante just got upped in sensational style. This definitely won’t be the last time I see these guys.

Blasting off in the tradition of Conan and Clutch, Boss Keloid slather The Black Heart with thick slabs of oozy, infectious groove. They’re a tight and completely uncompromising force and exude power. Front man, Alex Hurst is an engaging master of ceremonies with a look that says “you must be crushed – it is your destiny”…and he would be absolutely correct. New album “Herb Your Enthusiasm” is essential listening based on tonight’s display.

Ten Foot Wizard apply the icing to this cake. The venue is a dripping, sweaty cauldron by this stage and everyone simply wants more. The boys, almost stripped bare own the place from the outset with “Medicine” getting everyone in the mood. Mike Collins of Pist) stepped up for bass duties in the absence of Emlyn Spiers and does a sterling job. The delivery is perfect; it’s all there –  swampy boogie blues, doom quality heaviness and above all else, stuff that just makes you lose your shit. Jonny Banyard on drums is an absolute machine laying down a thunderous foundation that allows Gary Harkin’s soulful vocals to shine through over his and Adam Henry’s edible riffs. They’re just straight out fun with loads of banter that has many a face smiling from ear to ear.

Many bodies, drenched in sweat and beer and grinning insanely are left very satisfied. That is how Friday nights get done around here. The whole evening was high octane, riff-fuelled madness delivered by some of the UK’s best young bands that demand attention. All of them need to be on your “must see” list if you haven’t already done so.

(Johnny Zed)