It's not easy to capture an Earthless show in text.
The San Diego-based psych rock band came through Houston on Wednesday night, methodically shredding away before an entranced crowd at White Oak Music Hall. As part of a tour with support from Here Lies Man, Earthless waded through a nearly two hour set of heavy jams.
Earthless dropped Black Heaven in March, easily their most structured album to date. While replete with lengthy tracks and solos, it featured multiple songs with vocals and focused composition. Short of a rousing rendition of Black Heaven cut "Electric Flame," the set focused on earlier material. That has pluses and minuses. When Earthless peaks, the songs truly are a sonic journey, subtly shifting as all three members feel the moment. When the songs meander or fail to advance the plot, it can be hard for audience members to stay focused.
Guitarist and vocalist Isaiah Mitchell gave a passionate and proficient performance behind the axe. Using a combination of pedals and effects, Mitchell birthed a variety of sounds. A fan listening to bootlegs at home would be shocked to see he only swapped guitars once during the main set. Although Mitchell only took to the mic a few times throughout the night, he is a capable vocalist as well. His guttural delivery brought life to "Eternal Flame" as well.
(Photo: Thomas Joseph)
That skill set plays well off of drummer Mario Rubalcaba (also known as Ruby Mars of Rocket from The Crypt fame) and bassist Mike Eginton. Eginton is the least animated of the three on stage, but produces a consistent tone. Rubalcaba has credited Eginton's writing as the backbone of their earlier work, and that carries over live performances.
Where Rubalcaba comes in with thundering crashes at times, Eginton is there to bounce off him. Similarly, when Mitchell did switch guitars - mid-song, no less - he had a few issues lining the tone up with his pedals. Eginton was there, keeping the whole thing together.
It all makes for a sometimes overwhelming package, but in the best possible sense. Earthless should be experienced live, and we encourage our readers to catch them the next time they roll through town.