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East Bay psych-prog heavyweights play Kilowatt in San Francisco's Mission

Bay Area psych-prog band Mondo Drag headlines the Kilowatt Sunday night, sharing the stage with touring Texas group Smokey Mirror and local punk-metal favorites Glowing Brain.

Founded over 15 years ago in Davenport, Iowa, by singer/keyboard player John Gamino, guitarist Jake Sheley and guitarist/synth player Nolan Girard -- the three childhood friends started playing together in their teens -- Mondo Drag recorded their debut album New Rituals in 2009 that was released on Alive Records the following year. A relentless touring regimen would follow with the group appearing regularly at festivals and sharing stages with like-minded acts including Dead Meadow, Witchcraft, Black Mountain, and Bay Area bands Sleepy Sun and Wooden Shjips.   

New Rituals by Mondo Drag - Topic on YouTube

After several line-up changes that at one point found former Radio Moscow members (and the future core of psych band Blue Pills) Cory Berry and Zack Anderson taking over vacated rhythm section positions, Mondo Drag would relocate to Oakland in 2013, eventually adding drummer Ventura Garcia and bassist Andrew O'Neil. The band signed to Riding Easy Records, which released their eponymous effort in 2015.

Mondo Drag - Initiation (LIVE at The Continental Room) by Scene & Heard TV on YouTube

The quintet earned some of its best reviews yet with the fuzzed-out guitar leads and swirling Hammond organ and synth grooves heard on the record. Its growing reputation led prog-metal greats Mastodon to hand picked Mondo Drag to open a packed free Converse Rubber Tracks show at the Chapel in 2016. Later that year, the group issued its follow-up -- The Occultation Of Light -- prior to heading out on a European tour playing with the likes of Pentagram and Elder. Powered by the band's growing arsenal of vintage keyboard sounds, the album delivered hefty sounds that at times recall the heavy-prog boogie of '70s British rockers Uriah Heep.

Dying Light by Mondo Drag - Topic on YouTube

While the band has had some extended lulls in activity, Mondo Drag emerged from hibernation in 2022 to play its first Oakland show in two years at Eli's Mile High Club ahead of an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas later that summer. The group debuted new drummer Jimmy Perez (who also plays in SF power trio Chief) and previewed some of the songs featured on their latest album, Through the Hourglass. Released last fall on Riding Easy Records, the group's first effort in nearly eight years hews closely to Mondo Drag's prog roots, at points echoing Meddle-era Pink Floyd with the keyboard-heavy sound of "Passages" and the title track.

Mondo Drag - Through The Hourglass (Official Audio) by RidingEasy Records on YouTube

For this Sunday night show at the Kilowatt, the band is sharing the stage with touring Texas psych-blues boogie group Smokey Mirror. Powered by the ferocious twin-guitar attack of Mario Rodriguez and Caleb Hollowed, the quartet released its fiery eponymous debut on Rise Above Records last year. Acclaimed local band Psychic Hit were scheduled to open, but had to drop off the bill. Filling in will be popular local punk-metal power trio Glowing Brain.

Mondo Drag with Smokey Mirror and Glowing Brain
Sunday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. $18
The Kilowatt

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