Album review: King Buffalo – Live At Freak Valley

American psych-heads King Buffalo captured freaking out at Freak Valley Festival.

Since its inception back in 2012 Germany’s Freak Valley Festival has grown to become one of the most anticipated events on the calendar for stoner rock fans around the world, the sense of community it engenders ensuring that each edition of the three-day event is sold out prior to the confirmation of the full line-up. The secret of its success lies in its carefully curated bill, which is built on its by fans, for fans approach. The latter has not only served the festival well, but has seen its organisers create further events, most notably an annual Freak Valley Xmas gathering in their hometown of Siegen. 

In tandem with their live shows, the Freak Valley crew launched Rock Freak Records in 2015 to issue selected live sets from the festival, the latest of which has just been released and captures U.S. psych-fuzz trio King Buffalo at full charge back in 2019

The band’s set was originally streamed via venerable German TV show Rockpalast’s social channels, but has been fully remixed for the purposes of this limited edition, vinyl-only release. Housed in a double-gatefold sleeve, limited is indeed the word with runs of 200 assorted numbered, coloured variants being issued alongside the standard edition, 750 of which have been pressed on gloriously thick, green splattered vinyl.

The final result is a handsome affair that clocks in at just under an hour and provides a snapshot of the trio of frontman/guitarist Sean McVay, bass player Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson at their most tripped out. Most impressive of all is just how the Rochester outfit lock into each other’s playing to deliver deep, heavy psychedelic grooves on what is a hugely satisfying set, which spans their entire career up to the release of their seismic second album, 2018’s Longing To Be The Mountain.

As he intros the final track – the jammed-out, side-long Eye Of The Storm – McVay mentions that copies of the band’s albums are available at the merch stand, eliciting pangs of nostalgia among those of us missing festivals and grappling with the uncertainty of the summer that lies ahead. Similarly, the slow-grooving Repeater’s recurrent lyrical mantra of every day is the same’ provides the listener with further food for thought for the period that we have just lived through, leaving us yearning for the time when we can commune again and the Freak Valley gang can let their flag fly high above their green field once more.

Rating: 4/5

For Fans Of: Monster Magnet, All Them Witches, Elder

Live At Freak Valley is out now on Rock Freak Records.

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Posted on February 24th 2021, 12:00p.m.
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