The chance to finally catch Columbus Ohio’s melodic riff rockers, Lo-Pan (Small Stone Records) in a dark, sweaty, and live setting was met with great anticipation. Lo-Pan, who arrived in Portland on tour with headliners BONGZILLA, also shared the stage with San Francisco’s Black Cobra and Detroit’s Against the Grain, creating an electric, smoke-filled party that was not to be missed! Downtown Portland’s low-key Star Theater was the perfect venue, featuring an intimate stage setting paired with a spacious, campfire-lit patio for a hit of air when needed. For some reason, the Portland stoner crowd didn’t care it was a rainy Sunday night. The joint was packed.
Starting the show, Against the Grain brought their Motor City speed rock in full force, opening the door for next up Lo-Pan. Before their set even started, during the setup you immediately got a sense that Lo-Pan smokes to their own beat of the bong. This was evident with the stage arrangement, the drums set up front and center, sandwiched between the bass and Flying V guitar. That put the vocal setup towards the back, directly behind the drums and almost unseen by the lower level floor fans, but certainly heard by all. We’ve seen drummers and vocalists shifted around the stage through the years (Tool, EYEHATEGOD to name a few), but this was somewhat different, and from a live energy and sound standpoint, very effective.
Lo-Pan, currently consisting of Jeff Martin (pipes), J.Bartz (drumbs), Skot Thompson (bass fishing tech), and Adrian Zambrano (guitard), had no problems hitting the melodious rock grooves the band has grown to be known for among fans abroad. Although they played a few familiar tunes, like opening track “El Dorado” off their 2011 release Salvador, or “Vox” and “The Duke” from their 2014 album, Colossus, their Sunday night set was mostly brand new, and basically unknown as the band played several currently unrecorded tracks that will hopefully be trimmed up for a 2016 release. The band neglected an Urb favorite, “Eastern Seas,” so I held onto the sugary nugget I had in my pocket for them. Anyone wanna burn it?
Combining heavy grooves and delicate, melodic textures of brilliance, Lo-Pan continues to impress the rock gods and fans everywhere! Vocalist Jeff Martin demonstrated his ability to balance his intoxicating singing talent with raw power nailing every note, even live his melodies ranging from his signature high to higher, seem humanly impossible. The new tracks sound amazing, and encompass the passion, groove, and dynamic drive that has become the trademark Lo-Pan sound we love. After stepping outside for a chat with J.Bartz, I feel confident in saying you can probably look for Lo-Pan to be updating their discography very soon. Well done dudes! Keep rocking and see you next time under The Rose City’s legalized Western Skies! Oh by the way, Black Cobra and BONGZILLA absolutely killed it, scoring the entire night a solid 420!