Local music review: Lo-Pan

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Turns out sometimes perseverance pays off.

Twice I've interviewed Columbus stoner-rock combo Lo-Pan, and twice the conversation has turned to that age-old band interview topic of paying their dues, escaping the daily grind and putting everything on the line for rock 'n' roll.

"It's not a weekend thing," bassist Skot Thompson told me in 2007. "I'm really getting sick of delivering pizza."

These guys haven't quit their day jobs yet, but thanks to a new record deal and frequent touring, they're getting closer. And if they keep obliterating the stage like they did Tuesday at The Summit, there's good reason to think their dreams will be realized.

The details of the deal: Detroit's respected Small Stone Recordings is set to release a remixed and remastered version of Lo-Pan's sophomore stunner "Sasquanaut" next year. Furthermore, the label is already hyping a follow-up album that the band hasn't even recorded yet.

Judging from "Generations," the unreleased song that closed Tuesday's set, that next LP will be every bit as pulverizing as Lo-Pan's first two records. They've honed their craft almost to a science, locking into a low-end riff and gradually transforming it through slight shifts in tempo, texture and time signature.

A Lo-Pan show is not as cold and clinical as that "science" description implies, though. Artful psychedelic breakdowns and Jeff Martin's passionate howls made sure of that Tuesday.

And I'd be remiss not to mention the hefty organic oomph at the core of Tuesday's set. Rarely does the lead singer set up at the back of the stage behind his bandmates, but that's where Martin was perched, a behemoth in hiding. Maybe it was the rear positioning or maybe it was just the mix, but the singer's guttural outbursts took a sonic backseat to the rhythmic pounding delivered by Thompson, guitarist Brian Fristoe and drummer Jesse Bartz.

Make no mistake: This band bludgeons. Yet there are so many subtle tweaks going on within the bombast that to reduce it to thoughtless pummeling would be way off. A thoughtful pummeling, then?