Under a wizard’s spell
Bay Area fantasy-metal crew slays all players
I haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons in more than 20 years, but to this day I can recall the armor-class bonus bestowed by a suit of elven chainmail and how many hit dice an ogre has.
I’d bet my bottom gold piece that the members of Bay Area band Glitter Wizard can, too. After witnessing their siege on Monstros Pizza last week (June 20), I’m fairly certain the necessary prerequisites to join the band include a working knowledge of the Monster Manual, a wicked sense of humor and the ability to shred like a 20th-level barbarian armed with a vorpal Gibson SG.
It was quite a scene at Monstros for a mid-week show; the Pyrate Punx, late returned and fired up from their yearly retreat to Libertatia, were in full force, as were a fair amount of Chico scenesters. There was even a mohawked tyke named Paul slipping in and out of the crowd and getting his rock fix at the all-ages show.
I quit playing D&D around the same time I started hanging out at shows and spending my dice and graph paper money on 40s of Mickey’s, and there’s something about Monstros shows that takes me back to that time. It’s like I’m 14 again, hanging outside the Plumbers Union Hall in Redding and waiting to see some random metal or punk band. It’s a great feeling, sentimental reminiscence coupled with a sense of excitement for the next generation living something similar to the best moments of my proudly misspent youth.
The Pushers—the latest in a string of Chico bands fronted by Cody K (aka Cody Que or Cody Von Peligro K)—has been active for about a year and features a great lineup, with Katie Kelley, Tom Little, Joshton Woodpond and the indomitable Steve Bragg. Unfortunately, I ran late and missed most of their set, but I loved the last two songs and intend to see the whole shebang at the earliest possible opportunity.
Next up, Dirty Filthy Mugs clocked in a set of sweet and burly street punk. The Los Angeles-based band does this well; 1-2-3-4 punching punk combinations with big anthemic choruses. In honor of their excellent showing, and anticipating the night’s main event, I drank many PBRs for the working class, and was thankful I didn’t have to work the next morning.
I was spurred to go see Glitter Wizard by my buddy, Chad, who lives in San Francisco now and was one helluva Dungeon Master back in the day. I spent more time listening to Sabbath and slaying dragons with that dude than anyone, and we made the transition from spending Saturdays rolling dice to being rock-’n’-roll delinquents together. I respect the guy’s opinion when it comes to rock ’n’ roll and all things dorky and told him I’d go. “And thus, you will be stoked,” he replied.
I was not disappointed. In a world full of mediocre musicians who take themselves too seriously, it’s refreshing to see an act with a sense of humor. All the band members adopt stage names—Wendy Stonehenge (aka former Chico rocker Micah Warren of Dik Diks and Stars Upon Thars fame), Doug Graves, Lorfin Terrafor, Kandi Moon, Fancy Cymballs—and a style that’s part glam-rock retro, part Ren Faire. It was as if they’d raided Marc Bolan’s closet and had the clothes altered to fit normal-size folks (Bolan, the spawn of a human and a sprite, was about 3-foot-6). I believe the bass player is an Elf, albeit a tall one. And they have a lot of hair.
Not to say it’s all style and no substance; Glitter Wizard rocks. Wailing guitars, moody organs, vocals like valkyries screaming to Valhalla. The music is equal parts Spinal Tap and Black Sabbath with a healthy knowledge of more esoteric acts like Hawkwind and Blue Cheer worked in. It’s psych-fueled fantasy metal at its finest delivered by some pretty boss dudes. These aren’t the kinda D&D dorks you made fun of on the bus. They’re the type of D&D dorks you’d be well advised to lock your daughters away from next time their adventures bring them this way. Mighty Wizards, indeed.