After Dominating Boston’s Underground, Lithic Sparks a New Flame on the West Coast
Written by Jackson Jost
From chipping my tooth in a Meshuggah mosh, to losing my left shoe at an A$AP Rocky show, to crowd surfing on a blowup unicorn at a Star Fucker concert, I’ve had many memorable live music experiences. However, I can say I’ve never had a bangover (whiplash caused by involuntary headbanging from listening to really good music) quite like the mornings after a Lithic show.
I was privileged to first witness Lithic in the comfort of my own dingy basement in Boston, Massachusetts. Days leading up to that night, I vehemently resisted my roommates organizing a rock concert at our house. Afterwards, however, I found myself pleading with my roommates every weekend to host more and more Lithic shows. I would do anything to see them live again. I was hooked. I’d never experienced music like that before. Was it rock? Certainly, but there was more to it. Each band member’s unique taste, combined with their Berklee education, provided them the tools to craft a truly original and genre-bending sound.
At the heart of Lithic are Juan Peña and Marvin Buessau; they are the motor that keeps the Lithic engine running. Together, they make for an extremely tight and indispensable bass and drum pair. I remember one show where, after two satisfying encores, the crowd still demanded more. Someone yelled “War Pigs!” and from there, Lithic was at the mercy of an adrenaline-surged mob demanding they play the legendary rock anthem. I watched as the bassist and drummer, who were used to being over-prepared, nervously expressed to the other guys they had never learned that song. Whether driven by their love of music or simply the fact that an eager crowd stood packed between the stage and the door, they went for it anyway. Leading off with a menacing drum intro and filling the middle with a crushing bass solo, Juan and Marvin skillfully took a stab at the Black Sabbath classic from nothing but memory. When it was over, the two of them looked around wide-eyed as it sank in that they had just absolutely slayed it. The audience was ecstatic.
Lithic’s sound is warped through a vocal dyad that juxtaposes Stone Panunzio’s gritty vocals with Jack Dinger’s soaring falsetto. By trading off the vocal lead and supporting each other through dynamic harmonies, they consistently demonstrate the vast scope of their songwriting. The lyrics are deep and personal, depicting vivid imagery through Jack and Stone’s beautiful voices. Behind the vocals are infectious grooves and impressive guitar work and that will hook you with pop sensibilities, only to break down into riffs so heavy you will have the wind knocked out of your chest.
Since that first unforgettable show in my basement, and the countless underground gigs thereafter, Lithic graduated from Berklee College of Music and left Boston for the sunny boulevards of Los Angeles. Fortunately, my path also took me to California, where I have been lucky enough to follow Lithic as they continue their journey. I was curious to see for myself how their sound would translate from the college-centric ecosystem of Boston to the saturated live music market of LA. Would they be able to create the same atmosphere and match the energy they had back in the east-coast underground? Would their sound even resonate with west-coast listeners? Well, after watching them electrify a Sunday audience at the legendary Viper Room on the Sunset Strip, totally blow out a boutique venue embedded within Chinese restaurant Genghis Cohen, and mesmerize a rowdy crowd at the historic Lighthouse Café, I knew I was right: this band is truly special.
Now, after cracking the west-coast scene in a matter of a couple months, it’s clear Lithic is ready to share their latest and greatest music with the world. Leading off with the aptly-titled single “La La Land,” the band’s social media posts continue to hint at a long lineup of new bangers in their back pocket. Their next release “Light As A Feather” is out today Friday, May 1st. Be warned: from what I’ve seen live, this one should be quite heavy. I wish there was one definitive song to introduce people to Lithic, but in reality, every song is so good and unique. There is truly something for everyone in Lithic’s catalog, so you will just have to listen to it all.