Live Review: Ritual Device at Reverb Lounge…

Category: Reviews — Tags: — @ 9:05 am May 3, 2024
Ritual Device at Reverb Lounge, May 2, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Day One of the Ritual Device reunion shows is in the books and it was a doozy. Never let it be said that this band doesn’t bring the theatrics, even more so than back in the old days when just showing up and not getting injured was enough. 

The set started with a lengthy, haunting guitar solo by guitarist Mike Saklar, a minor-key epic played under almost total darkness as one-by-one, members of the band walked into position with frontman Tim Moss coming in last. 

Moss, who I haven’t seen in a decade, looked looked like a biker gang’s accountant with his crazy long beard and thick black-rimmed glasses. He stood stark center stage while the band tore into opening song “Thick.” Unlike the old days when he would stalk the edges of the stage holding the microphone chord like a whip, Moss stood stock still and stared at the crowd of around 100 menacingly, as if making a list for later. Unsettling, especially in contrast to the roar going on behind him.

Ritual Device’s appeal has always been in the recipe. You have Saklar — a master guitarist, really peerless in this part of the country, then the rhythm section of drummer Eric Ebers and bassist Jerry Hug who put the groove in the nightmare, a rock-solid beat factory that powered through every song. Finally, Moss, who doesn’t so much sing as tell stories punctuated by gutteral screams. He never sounded better. 

The band kept it going with “I Want Me,” then tore into my personal favorate Ritual Device song, “What You Got.” By now, Moss had lost the glasses and was in classic Moss form – weird, bent-over howl followed by falling off (or onto) the stage and then into the thrashing crowd. 

Tim Moss in stalker mode. The giant white T-shirted man (left) did what he could to keep the pit going.

A decade ago at The Waiting Room, he would have been carried around the pit, but the band’s reputation had finally caught up with them. Only about 20 or so hale and hearty types moshed in front of the stage while most of the audience stood back by the soundboard (or behind it), their mosh-pit days long behind them (It was, indeed, an older crowd). 

Unlike the sneaky, sinister snap of the recorded version, last night’s rendition of “What You Got” sounded purposely slowed down, a hazy sludge. In fact, the entire set sounded slower and stonier than I remember vs. the ol’ serial killer pace heard on Henge or performed at The Capitol Bar & Grill.

Prior to the set, the sound man (Keith?) disconcertingly, meticulously covered the stage monitors with plastic sheeting. Was this to keep blood off the speakers? He just smiled and wasn’t saying. Then, I can’t remember if it was during “Shift” or “Charlie Jones,” the reason for the plastic was made clear – soap bubbles sprayed up behind the band from a bubble machine, a glowing effect that seemed oddly counter to the murder tales being performed on stage. 

Tiny bubbles… in the beard... Ritual Device during the bubble montage.

Well, the bubbles only lasted one song (but would make an appearance again at the end). Fans got what they came for, as Ritual Device played most of the songs off Henge, including “Sucker” and “Hatesong #3.” 

The set closed with a disturbing, angry rendition of Johnny Richards’ “Young at Heart,” that likely caused Frank Sinatra to reanimate and stomp around his graveyard in Cathedral City. Moss disappeared from stage before the band left, but they all came back for an encore, with Moss thanking the crowd as the guys ripped into “Porkfist.” Oh what a time to be alive.

Day Two of the Ritual Device reunion tour continues tonight (Friday) at Reverb with Gerald Lee Jr. and Bad Bad Men opening at 8 p.m. $20. The band also plays tomorrow night at Lincoln Calling (at Duffy’s) Go!

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.