Live Review: SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD, WIZZERD, PLAGUE DOCTOR [Guest: John Gist, Las Vegas, NV 6/12/2017]

Article By: John Gist ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway

Last night’s little adventure took me to a show at The Garth. If you ask me where it is… well, that file has already exploded up in smoke, therefore that information is unavailable. What was available was three bands each bringing their own crushing sound.

Regularly, I attend two to three shows a week. This was my first in a warehouse. I was here specifically to see Wizzerd, from the Big Sky state of Montana. First time seeing them live! I enter this secret spot in a warehouse area in North Vegas with the hopes to see a couple of familiar faces.

As I go inside this unique venue, I am greeted by Rebecca Anne, who helps set things up here. I quickly see two members of Spiritual Shepherd hanging out (Ian and Omar). Then as I creep further inside, I see a stage set up on the left-hand side. Along all the walls are ordained with tattered graffiti. Not a very big room, but word has it that they have had shows a few times before.

Wizzerd – Photo by John Gist

Plague Doctor, which tonight was a three-piece band (two guitars, with drums) – the bass player couldn’t make it, I guess. Either way, they powered through their songs with ultra-strong, twin-axe-attack vigor. Vocals are very much an afterthought with this band and aren’t of the clean variety (clean vocals are usually my preference). It makes me think what some of these really grooving songs would be like with smoother vocals engaged.

Nonetheless, Zakkariah Cottam on guitars/vocals, Erik Kline on guitar, and playing the drums is Andrew Curby. Damn good!! Impressive firing up to start the show. Nothing too slow or methodical, just riff rocking goodness with great drums. Wizzerd standing up in front rocking out for the second half of the set and loving it!

Wizzerd – Photo by John Gist

Between sets, everyone is mingling and moving around inside and outside of the room. I pop over to introduce myself to the frontman Jhalen Salazar of Wizzerd. He’s engaging and super upbeat, we exchange band talk and stories. Then he looks up and says, “Oh, my mom is here!” I replied, “Hey that’s good news, I’m no longer the oldest here!!”

He kept his composure and balance perfectly with his mom being there and getting ready for the show. Caught up some with Jamie Yeats, the lead guitarist I met at Psycho Las Vegas last year. Jamie looks a bit like Dave Mustaine’s long-lost child or a young doppelgänger.

Jamie Yeats (Wizzerd) – Photo by John Gist

As they get started, there is so little doubt this band is going to keep moving up in recognition. They really have a good sound and they are all strong musicians. One thing quickly noticeable is they have moves. Yep, they know how to move on stage with a presence, they don’t just stand there and play.

Tucked away slightly to the far left is Wayne Randall, who helps on Synths. We talked for quite a bit before the show. He brings some nice depth to the songs. Wayne is very enthusiastic about where the band will go from here. On bass, Layne Matkovich holds things down and by no means is merely background to all the movement. The quietest guy in person, as far as I can tell, but on stage, he is an animal.

Wizzerd – Photo by John Gist

Speaking of animals, the drummer Sam Moore is hitting the bronze and copper nearly as much as the leather. It really drives these songs. By the way, he is like a brother from a different mother of Ian Henneforth, the drummer from Spiritual Shepherd. It’s almost bizarre, they are pretty similar in size and haircut/color.

As they start their second song kicking in all at once, I see Jhalen’s mom up there getting down to the rocking vibe, as she is shakin’ what her momma gave her! She was digging it, it was her first time seeing her son performing. The composition of these songs is thought out and played tight, with power chords prevalent. Jamie Yeats on guitar steadily delivers perfectly timed lead play and works so damn well with Jhalen also on guitar.

These young guys have been working on it for over five years already. Very impressive to my ears and eyes. The room is full of energy, engagement in the tunes, lots of smoke, and few random remains of what was a fresh beer or two. No doubt the band cast a great spell (yep, being cheesy… pun intended) on the crowd with a really great set.

Wizzerd – Photo by John Gist

Wizzerd is on their first-ever tour and at the time of this show, they are halfway through their trek. They recently shared the stage on various stops with Mos Generator, Slow Season, Ancient Spell, Old Blood, Rare Breed, Salem’s Bend, and Nebula Drag, to name a few.

Finishing up the night was the hardest working band in Las Vegas, Spiritual Shepherd. At the forefront of the band is Doom Goddess Kaylee Jade on vocals and rhythm guitar. She joined the band around a year ago, before that they were a three-man, all-instrumental band.

On drums, Ian Henneforth plays the crap out of them and was extra on point tonight – he was performing for his drumming teacher. There is no doubt that he stands out at many shows with his furious playing. On bass is the steady laid back influence of Omar Alvarado. Finally, the founder of the band, a woolly mammoth of a man playing lead guitar is Sean Van Haitsma. He steadily brings the slow and deep thunder on his guitar throughout the set.

Spiritual Shepherd – Photo by John Gist

As I look over the crowd, I see all heads either banging, rocking, or smoking (keep in mind the magic herb is now legal in Vegas). Heck, many a time between songs various bands’ members would pass a J around to the folks on stage… Yep, this is Sin City.

Both Plague Doctor and Spiritual Shepherd are planning a tour up in the Northwest this Fall. This will be their first official full tour trek. With some help from the heavy rock community, they will enjoy some great gigs up there.

The show was fun and I believe I will be popping back over to The Garth for another show at some point. Very much looking forward to what is next for Wizzerd musically, as they already have a bunch of stuff going on. These guys get it and understand what heavy rock is all about.

My next show is Big Business down at Beauty Bar. First time seeing them also! Cheers!

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