Music Festivals

Acid King Played Doom Rock Before It Was Doom Rock

Acid King
Acid King Raymond Ahner
San Francisco-based psychedelic doom band Acid King, which will be headlining the second night of the independent rock event Electric Funeral Fest at 3 Kings Tavern, was started by guitarist and singer Lori S. in 1993. The group emerged at a time when “doom” wasn't commonly used to refer to heavy music with a footing in Black Sabbath, and “stoner rock” had not yet been coined.

Lori grew up in Chicago. Her family forced her to take piano lessons, but otherwise, they were not that involved in music. She didn't start playing guitar until she was nineteen. Her then-boyfriend was Eric Brockman, from the punk band Life Sentence, and she hung out with the bandmates' other girlfriends during band practice. That wasn't enough for Lori; she told Brockman she “wanted to learn guitar instead of just sitting there.”

“He taught me the major and minor chords, and I started a band barely knowing how to play,” Lori says. “I wanted to play leads and to play like Kelly Johnson from Girlschool. I started my first band with one of the members of [Eric's] band and a girl who played drums. It was called Gross National Product.”

The group was short-lived, and Lori was determined to have a decent all-women band like Girlschool. Not finding as many women playing the kind of music she wanted to write in the ’80s as she might have these days, Lori did put together Bhang Revival, a more pop-y punk outfit that got heavier as her tastes changed. After dropping two seven-inch records, she moved to San Francisco and had a change of heart regarding the make-up of her band.

“I was done with the all-girl thing and decided I should play with whoever and have an excellent band instead of trying to target any particular gender,” says Lori.

In San Francisco, she formed Acid King, influenced by heavier psych bands like Hawkwind and Monster Magnet. But there was no obvious scene nationally, much less locally for the kind of music Acid King was making.

“There wasn't a name for that kind of music back then,” says Lori. “And nobody knew what to do with that until [record label] Man's Ruin came around.”

By then, Acid King had released its first two records, 1994's Acid King and 1995's Zoroaster, on Sympathy for the Record Industry, a label that didn't specialize in a genre or any broad aesthetic.

The label Man's Ruin, which existed between 1994 and 2001, worked with many of the bands that have become classic stoner-rock groups like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Nebula, High on Fire, Electric Wizard, Fu Manchu and Orange Goblin, as well as Acid King. The label also put out releases by other well-known acts like Turbonegro, the Hellacopters, Entombed, Unsane and Chrome.

Man's Ruin was a good home for bands like Acid King that didn't fit into narrow conceptions of genre. But since the label folded, Acid King has released albums on various labels including its most recent, 2015's Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere on Finnish imprint Svart Records. The trio has garnered a cult following in Europe.

In 2016 Lori put together a new lineup of Acid King, which she is putting to the test with a month-long European tour in the summer. After that time, she hopes to write the band's new record with her bandmates fully immersed in Acid King's psychedelic colorings and heady, heavy rhythms.

These days, the group mostly does one-off shows and festivals in the United States rather than long tours on the road, so this appearance at Electric Funeral Fest will be a rare opportunity to witness one of doom rock's classic acts in an intimate setting.

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Schedule

Friday, June 16
The Joint by Cannabis Stage at 3 Kings Tavern
4:15 - 4:50 Lords of Beacon House
5:15 - 5:50 Oryx
6:15 - 6:50 Muscle Beach
7:15 - 7:50 Communion
8:15 - 8:50 Monarch
9:15 - 9:55 The Well
10:15 - 11:00 Slow Season
11:40 - 12:40 Corky Laing's MOUNTAIN

4:45 - 5:20 High on the Mountain
5:45 - 6:20 Smokey Mirror
6:45 - 7:20 Greenbeard
7:45 - 8:20 The Munsens
8:45 - 9:20 R.I.P.
9:40 - 10:20 Goya
10:40 - 11:25 Sourvein

After Party Show at hi-dive
12:50 - 1:30 Glitter Wizard

Saturday June 17
The Joint by Cannabis Stage at 3 Kings Tavern
4:15 - 4:50 Dizz Brew
5:15 - 5:50 Red Wizard
6:15 - 6:50 Feather Stone
7:15 - 7:50 Great Electric Quest
8:15 - 8:50 Barrows
9:15 - 9:55 The Heavy Eyes
10:15 - 11:00 Electric Citizen
11:40 - 12:40 ACID KING

hi-dive Denver
4:45 - 5:20 Urn
5:45 - 6:20 Jagged Mouth
6:45 - 7:20 Malahierba
7:45 - 8:20 Love Gang
8:45 - 9:20 Banquet
9:40 - 10:20 Cloud Catcher
10:40 - 11:25 Destroyer of Light

After Party Show at hi-dive
12:50 - 1:30 Crypt Trip

Acid King at Electric Funeral Fest, 11:40 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 3 Kings Tavern, 303-777-7352, $32-$59 for the festival, 21 and over.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.