Remembering Riley Gale

Photo from The Collaborative

Power Trip has been my favorite band since the first time I saw them. I love them the same way I used to love bands as a teenager, excited by every bit of news and every show announcement. It never occurred to me that I’d ever feel like this about a band again, but here I am. Despite 30 years in and around the music business, I’m once again just unconditionally, unprofessionally geeked about something.

Blake Ibanez (lead guitar), Chris Ulsh (drums). Chris Whetzel (bass), Nick Stewart (guitar), and Riley Gale (vocals) brought it 100% every time they hit the stage. But that was only half the equation. Power Trip’s fans brought the rest. You had a decision to make each time you went to a show. Were you going to be part of the mayhem? Or simply watch it unfold? Either way good times lay ahead.

I had a really chill talk with Whetzel once when they were touring with Napalm Death. Just two dudes standing in the back of Numbers main room waiting for the next band to come on. But that’s the only contact I’ve ever had with the band or anyone to do with it.

When I heard the news of Riley’s death a year ago today it felt like my head was going to collapse. Beyond being a generational front man, he had been proof-of-concept for the idea that a normal guy, the kind of guy you’d hang in the garage with just to kill time, a guy like ME, could actually do that job at the highest level. Neil Fallon (Clutch) and LG Petrov (Entombed) had both been relatable in their way, but Riley nailed it. Everything the Super-Me front man could be.

This extended off stage as well. One of my favorite social media runs ever was his 2017 Twitter feud with Proud Boys, calling them out en masse as lunatic dipshits long before most had ever even heard of them and inviting them to come down to the show for a talk.

Riley’s passing left a hole in my existential paradigm. It also simultaneously reignited some dormant fires and made me give a lot fewer fucks than I had.

I was actively looking forward to spending the next 20 years of my life watching Power Trip become the biggest heavy band on earth. Given the age difference, I was going to be watching new tours from the nursing home. Hell, maybe until I was dead! That whole segment of my life was locked down. They were on that kind of arc.

Along those lines, I really hope the rest of the band continues in some way. Riley might have been the focal point, but those riffs (drums included!) can’t be touched. Would love to hear more. It’s not like it’s without precedent for a band to return after the unexpected loss of its front man and brother.

In the meantime, enjoy my 10 favorite videos of Power Trip in action live, arranged chronologically so you too can have fun watching them grow.

Metal! The one true path.

PS: I’d be remiss to not express my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Trouble/The Skull vocalist Eric Wagner. A potent, genre-defining force of his own, Wagner died this past Sunday at 62 from COVID complications. The Skull had played Houston just two weeks before, but the band pulled out of its Psycho Vegas slot last Thursday as Wagner’s condition worsened. Hopefully he, Riley, and LG have found each other and are having a great karaoke session. Here’s one of my favorites.

On with the shows…

Together for three years when this was filmed, it’s still the oldest YouTube footage available of Power Trip; roughly 15 minutes of fun from Moshfest 2011 in Tyler, Tex. The aesthetic and setting are definitely hardcore, but metal is already baked into the riffs (not to mention Blake’s headbanging!) Already tighter than most bands and still just barely known outside of north Texas.

Here’s a little bonus fun from just a few weeks later, back home in Dallas at the now defunct 1919 Hemphill. Hammer of Doubt!

Fast forward to 2012 and things are starting to get scary. Dallas festivities surrounding Edge Day 2012. Though not a straightedge band, Power Trip, particularly through Riley, advocated continuously for the rights of the downtrodden. Anyway, check this out. You won’t be able to unsee it.

Just a couple of months after that mayhem, I encountered Power Trip for the first time. They were playing downstairs in the small room at Fitzgerald’s in Houston. Was a free show split between the venue’s two floors, w/Pallbearer, Venomous Maximus, Transmaniacon MC, Omotai, Eagle Claw, Mammoth Grinder, Warmaster, Oceans Of Slumber, and Peasant also performing.

Power Trip opened its set with the newly minted ‘Crossbreaker.’ I’d never heard a note of the band’s before music and hadn’t been part of a crowd like theirs in years. I was instantly and permanently hooked. They became my favorite band on earth that night and remain so to this day. Couldn’t be happier to have captured some of it on video.

Not quite the madness of the early home shows, but still super cool in its DIY vibe, Power Trip played the Metal Frat (Sigma Phi) at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Apr. 15, 2013. It was still two months before the release of the band’s Southern Lord debut, ‘Manifest Decimation,’ but all systems were definitely go.

Winter in Moscow. It doesn’t get much more hardcore than that. A fitting setting then (at the now closed Plan B) for Power Trip’s first ever headlining show outside the US. Sure, Blake’s guitar is super hot on this one, but the overall sound is ultra-live and reminds me of my favorite place to be at a show…anywhere you can hear the backline more clearly than the PA. It sounds just like you’re back in the garage.

Power Trip always kept up a frenetic pace at Austin’s annual SXSW festival, often packing three shows into a single day. 2014 was no exception. PBS’s ‘Everything But The News’ was in the house for the band’s afternoon outdoors Converse/Thrasher Deathmatch set at Scoot Inn, which drew an entertaining mix of true fans and surprised tourists. A few hours later they were tearing up the inside of Beerland as part of the Ground Control Day Party. Outdoors was a hoot as well, APD coming to shutdown Trash Talk’s set on the venue’s patio.

Summer in Philadelphia means it’s time for This Is Hardcore, the annual festival bringing heavy brotherly love to the maniacal masses. As an example of the fun on hand, just the ‘C’s of the 2014 lineup featured CIV, Code Orange, Converge, Crowbar, and Cruel Hand. Power Trip also played. Their set was captured by hate5six (aka Sandeep “Sunny” Singh). His videos always hit, this one is other worldly. Audio, video, editing: all 100/100. Some of the greatest live concert footage ever presented. BEHOLD!

“Spinkick for Jesus.” One year later and back in Philly. Welcomed as old friends in the house of hardcore, Power Trip had spent the bulk of the intervening 12 months on the metal road in North America touring in support of ‘Manifest Decimation.’ Not quite as incendiary as 2014, but the combination of band and videographer remains untouchable. Plus, there’s a guy dressed like a whoopee cushion. And two young women got engaged right before the set.

In 2018 Power Trip got the invitation to appear in Canada on House of Strombo, the concert series hosted from the house (like for real…furniture, kitchen, the whole nine) of CBC music interviewer George Stroumboulopoulos, joining the likes of the Charlatans, Behemoth, John Prine, and the Melvins as guests that year. There’s the occasional pensive face, but what’s going down is inescapable and masterfully captured. It’s likely the band’s most watched live set at 1.4 million views and counting, and it’s easy to see why.

One of the coolest things about watching Power Trip grow was the scale and fanaticism of welcome they got in parts of the world like Asia and Eastern Europe that most US-based heavy bands don’t even get to until they’re headlining the summer sheds and small arenas here. The band toured Southeast Asia in early 2020, and many of the sets are available to watch.

This one from February in Manila is my favorite. The venue’s popping, the band is on fire, and the sound quality might be the best of all of the vids shared here: everything louder than everything else, but all crystal clear.

Power Trip had started writing for a third album in late 2019. Within a few weeks of this set the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live music altogether. The band responded by going into the studio to begin pre-production. The rest, as they say, is history.

Unreality Check #22: Still 2020 all over again

It’s how science works. You try something and then you keep refining it. I guarantee the first submarine didn’t work. Nor attempt to split the atom. Nor the first polio vaccine. The difference this time is it directly involves billions of human lives and lots of them are able to communicate whatever bs or good information they feel like passing along, leaving the rest of us to sort it out.

Just go get vaccinated.

Almost 100% of the Republican party’s attention is still focused on a combination of perpetrating the lie that the 2020 election was somehow stolen form Donald Trump and trying to obstruct investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. It’s almost like there’s nothing to be done; no problems to solve nor bridges to fix, no virus to quell nor crime wave to nix.

From a recent Trump fundraising email:

  • They fabricated vote counts of 100–0 for Biden, many times!

“I warned you this would happen, Friend. What else will they find once the full Forensic Audit takes place?”

Who ‘they’ are is never defined, of course, It’s just important that they exist so there’s a bogeyman to fear. It’s also not clear how one “fabricates vote counts of 100-0 for Biden, many times,” but is sure looks bad. He’s our friend and he warned us this would happen, and the Forensic Audit hasn’t even happened yet! More terror surely lies ahead.

Meanwhile in Houston, regarding the defection of Democratic members of the Texas state house to DC, the proposal has been put forward to make ‘quorum denial’ a felony, thereby allowing people engaged in it to be arrested upon return.

“These steps wouldn’t be a rock solid way to ensure no future walk outs occur,” says one proponent. “However taking these steps, along with codifying [that] the Attorney General has prosecutorial authority in the venue of their choosing goes a long way to injecting fear and uncertainty to the process.”

The target might be somewhat different than the Trump email, but the overall effort is the same: scare people into believing that something terrible is happening to them so that they’ll vote for you. I guess you’ve got to do what you can if you’re not going to propose solutions to actual problems.

The presumably unintentional outing of the GOP MO is pretty cool too: Injecting Fear and Uncertainty to the Process.

Gov. Abbott called a second special session Aug. 5, doubling down on voter suppression efforts while once again ignoring the state’s failed power grid.

Then again, he and the rest of his cronies are getting paid handsomely for their looking the other way. Gov. Greg and Lt. Dan you already know. Perhaps less familiar are State Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall, HD9) and State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown, SD5). Anyway, they’re among the legion of elected officials the energy business backed it cash trucks up for.

Source: Texas Tribune

Or as one University of Texas professor put it

Source: Texas Tribune

In any case, Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston, HD23) got right to work filing a bill to define legislative vacancy in order “to prevent legislators from quitting on Texas and their offices.” HB 309 defines a legislative vacancy as 14 consecutive days of unexcused absences from the chamber in which the member holds office.

Article XVI, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution prescribes the Oath of Office for elected officers that requires members of the Legislature to swear that he or she will “faithfully execute the duties of the office” to which the member is elected.

Speaking on his bill, Rep. Middleton said, “If you repeatedly don’t show up for work, you are fired from your job, our offices should be no different. Excessive, unexcused absences are certainly a violation of each member’s oath of office and a refusal to do the job the member is elected to do.” Mr. Middleton should be reminded that job the absent legislators and he were both elected to do was to represent their constituents, which they did.

Not to be outdone by his legislative colleagues, Texas Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright proposesd that the natural gas industry receive tax incentives similar to those provided for renewable energy projects. Wright advocated tax credits for gas pipelines, storage projects, and power plants. Such provisions would better protect the state’s infrastructure from weather disasters like the deadly February freeze while also reducing flaring, according to Wright.

Well sure, if your buddies in the state house would compel them to do so. Otherwise, they’ll just be used to pad the bottom line…and make campaign contributions.

Unreality Check #15: Humans Are Funny

From Morning Consult. Nearly 3 in 5 unvaccinated adults say $1,000 would sway them to get a COVID-19 shot. What about their moral objections? Or the “fact” that it’s “unsafe” or will even “kill you?” Or “butt out government!” Maybe these people are the 40%. Either way, sheeesh. Maybe just go get vaccinated?

From the Inbox:

“My name is Adam Chodikoff, and I am an Associate Producer with “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” – this may shock you, but none of us in the late night comedy world are required to be pipeline experts, so I wanted to turn to experts to fact check this statement: considering how fast the pipeline operations were restored, the sole reason for the shortages over the past few days was panic buying. Some sources seem to be saying that – wanted to check with you guys to see if that’s true. Thanks!”

I told Adam that, yes, Trevor could safely say the shortages were consumer created. it was a planned shutdown initiated by the company to ensure the pipeline itself actually was secure. they could have started flows again at any point once that determination was made and as it was did so two days earlier than they had initially thought might be required.

Or, as the New Yorker put it…

Come on! We need to go wait hours in line to buy gas before the price goes back down!

Unreality Check #11: Do stuff, you guys!

Come to find out this vaccination that’s going around is just one small part of a psyops campaign to enslave us all. Or it’s an RNA suppressant being unleashed as a population control mechanism. Let’s go with the first one for now. There’s less hard science involved.

It’s going to be wild to see what happens once Americans are back to grilling, and boating, and baseball, and stuff like that. You know, basically setting disposable income on fire for our own enjoyment. We’ve been trained for generations that it’s the path to happiness. The new campaign is going to have to be a BEAST if it’s going to overwhelm the one already in place, especially regarding keeping us all in line.

We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, don’t forget that COVID-19 is transmitted by 5G and that Bill Gates is funding the vaccine to microchip us all.

Such claims are not only being pushed now but echo the tone of many of those used against the smallpox vaccine 136 years ago. That illustration above is the top of an antivax pamphlet from 1885. The one below, its conclusion.


Here’s something else to think about. If you DO stuff, you don’t have to walk around talking about doing stuff all the time. It’s DONE. People can look at it. Experience it. It’s there.

On the other hand, if you want to seem like you’re doing stuff, but actually lack the will or ability to get it done, you’d best be spending as much time as you can talking about it to make sure nobody finds out what the real score is.


I’m pretty sure “you guys” is a gender-neutral expression.

Unreality Check (#4)

Agencies shall consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process. 200-day deadline from Mar. 7. Includes modernization of websites and digital services.

The above summarizes some of the key points of an executive order issued Mar. 7 by Joe Biden. I’d heard about this one, but in general it’s been so quiet, relative to recent times, that I’d kind of lost track of what he’d been doing.

The following are some of other things that happened in just the first seven days of this month:

• The Senate passed the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan Act.

• The February jobs report showed 379,000 jobs added to the economy.

• The Defense Production Act was engaged to make enough vaccines to supply every American by the end of May 2021.

• Biden met with President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss immigration, COVID-19, and economic and security cooperation.

• Biden spoke with the Guatemalan president to discuss immigration and regional security.

• Secretaries of Commerce and Education were sworn in.

• Biden assessed the mental acuity of the governors of Texas and Mississippi.


Introducing George Floyd’s drug use as a defense strategy is no different than pointing out “provocative dress” on the part of the victim during a rape trial


Instead of pushing this rapid reopening, why don’t GOP governors just tell everyone to work harder. I mean, that’s all poor people have to do, right?

Unreality Check (#3)

‘To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth,’ released in 1997, is Swedish metal band Entombed’s fourth album. It was a step away from the band’s death metal roots, providing the cornerstone for the then-nascent metal subgenre, death n’ roll (yes, a blend of rock n’ roll and death metal).

Most fans would choose one of the three albums that preceded it as their favorite Entombed record, but ‘Too Ride…’ has a special hold on me. It was the soundtrack of my first trip to Rio de Janeiro. Rio in 1997 was better than Rio even three years earlier, but it was still a place where it was never clear who the bad guys were and in which nightclub madness could turn into actual chaos in the blink of an eye. Gunfire rang from the favellas well into the night and police sweeps of Copacabana were non-stop once the sun went down.

‘Too Ride…’s’ overdriven everything, nearly continuous swing, and lyrics focused on the perpetual struggle for sanity (or at least peace) made the perfect musical accompaniment for a new visitor to a society on the edge. Vocalist LG Petrov didn’t write the words he sang, but he delivered them with such unfettered disgust, amazement, and ferocity that they were inescapable.

LG died today, taken at age 49 by bile duct cancer. He was a unique and striking personality in a genre full of them. But I have ‘Too Ride…’ forever. And the journey’s just getting started.


So it looks like everyone’s cool with Marilyn Mansion getting cancelled. Let’s use that common ground to build something. You know where to reach me. #bipartisanship


When Trump backed COVID relief legislation it was urgently needed aid that got broad support from both sides of the aisle, but now that it’s Democrats it doesn’t even merit consideration. How can anyone take the GOP seriously? That’s a real question.

Unreality Check (#2)

Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ turned 35 today. A true masterpiece. One of those rare albums that not only stands as a cohesive piece of work rather than a collection of songs but actually envelopes its listener, taking them on a journey. When you add in the great individual performances and the fact that it sounds great no matter what volume you play it at, it’s pretty much the best.

Was living in a group flat in London in fall of 1986 and would fall asleep some afternoons sitting on its hard couch with my headphones on, just letting it wash over me.

When I heard about Cliff’s death I cried. Rest in peace, genius. You will live forever.


Does the GOP want us out of Iraq or in Iraq? Or whichever is the most expedient answer to the particular question they face? I think that’s the one.


Conservatives have attempted to cancel an absurd amount of literature over the years, and almost all of it simply for wanting to broaden the minds of those who would read it. The forces behind what is happening now are different. It is an effort in include. Not exclude. At least their reaction is consistent I guess.


In the words of great Indiana poet, William Rose Jr. (@axlrose) “I don’t worry ‘bout nothing, no, cuz worrien’s a waste of my time.” The earth is a self-balancing system. She’ll be fine. But if we want to stay here (or live elsewhere), it’s past time to get busy.


The US Interior Dept. took steps today to recommit to scientific integrity and empower its experts to use the best available science. Its Order 3397 revokes Order 3369 – falsely branded the “open science” rule – that imposed improper restrictions on what science and data could be considered when making its decisions.


BREAKING INTEL: When Texas COVID-19 numbers spike towards the end of the month the right’s plan is to blame it on illegal immigrants. They’re literally broadcasting it. #OnBrand