Review: Frankie and the Witch Fingers Find a Psychedelic Groove at Bottom Lounge

Touring in support of their new record Data Doom, LA-based psych-rock band Frankie and the Witch Fingers brought heavy riffage and a snappy atmosphere to Bottom Lounge. Fans of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees will doubtless be familiar with the ludicrously-named quartet, and it’s hard to imagine the overlap between fanbases being far from 100%. The quartet traffics in those delectable psychedelic guitar tones, punchy beats, howling vocals, and sludgy bass. There are also heavy horror, sci-fi, and fantasy themes across their lyrics and iconography, which recalls Australian counterparts King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. 

First up were Toronto garage rockers Wine Lips, a group of upstarts employing the same playbook as the aforementioned bands, but with a refreshing scrappiness and some playlist-ready hooks. With only a few albums under their belt, the four-piece launched through their set mostly with cuts off of 2021’s Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party. It seems that zany and wordy album titles and band names are a major throughline for artists within this insular genre. 

From the start, these guys had the crowd going nuts, with a mosh pit starting from the first note. Their set was an all-out ripper that hardly slowed down at any point. Fuzzy guitars and (probably too loud) thumping bass lines held their sound together, while their super drummer provided the pattern for ample shredding. The band’s well-meaning sleaze and peppy stage presence was reminiscent of local act Twin Peaks. Bad facial hair and hilarious sunglasses were everywhere, and their rowdiness was mirrored by the crowd. 

With such enthusiasm from the crowd, it’s no wonder why these guys are touring with Frankie and the Witch Fingers, and they should rightfully be pegged as next in line for prime billing in the psych-rock world. It will be interesting to see if they move on to spacier arrangements and more potent tunes… 

After a short breather, which the seemingly indefatigable crowd shrugged off, Frankie and the Witch Fingers took the stage. While their set leaned heavily on new material, longtime fans were treated to tracks off of earlier albums Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters and Zam. There was even a delightfully head-scratching cover for the encore. 

Frankie and the Witch Fingers tend to open their albums with drawn-out guitar-god epics, and Tuesday night’s show was no different. “Empire” is one of the best of the new album, and the sinister, reverb-soaked guitars heralded in the start of the set. Guitar noodling and bombastic drumming made for a lively beginning, especially when the band let the song stretch out a bit. 

“Futurephobic” was one of the more kinetic performances of the evening. With glitchy guitars weaving in and out of their tight low end. “System has no way to connect,” yelped lead singer Dylan Sizemore between some of the heaviest (that’s saying something) riffage of the set. 

There were plenty of proggy intros and outros throughout the show, but one of the more playful was that of “T.V. Baby.” It began with a bit of synthy 8-bit nostalgia that transformed into one of their typical ear-piercing punk freakouts. It’s hard not to picture caves and goblins when listening to this band. If they were ever interested in some co-branding, a dorky record store like Bric-a-Brac or an institution like Logan Arcade would certainly fit the bill. 

As an audience member, you tend to settle into a groove more than once at a Frankie and the Witch Fingers concert, but these guys always seem to come roaring back with their signature barrage of chaotic fuzz. This was especially the case on “Reaper,” which starts off as a slow-burner featuring a meandering bassline and smoky whispers before the epic crescendo of chunky guitars. The two guitarists are certainly adept at projecting their sound to occupy all the space in the room. 

After a few more jams, Frankie and the Witch Fingers seemed to deem their mischief managed, and closed with deep-cut “Tea.” While the textures were familiar, the track felt like an old pre-Beatles rock standard with a bit of rockabilly, but drenched in acid and addled by years of Dungeons & Dragons obsession. These are good things, especially if you enjoy winding guitar solos traded between the two guitarists and held together by the ultra-tight rhythm section. 

After an obligatory minute-long break, the band returned to treat the crowd to perhaps the most legendary garage rock song ever. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges reigns supreme in helping develop punk rock aesthetics in American music. Frankie and the Witch Fingers are no Stooges, but they create enough of a ruckus that their rendition whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Most knew this would be their last song, especially the dogged fans in the pit and Sizemore, who did his best to ape the stage presence of a hardcore punk frontman. It’s a curious choice, but it worked.

With more than a few solid albums, Frankie and the Witch Fingers is a worthy addition to the modern psych-rock canon. Like many of their peers, you have to see and hear it live to get the full experience. This band tours relentlessly, so you’ll likely have the opportunity before long… 

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Patrick Daul