The family of late POWER TRIP frontman Riley Gale says that it was caught "entirely by surprise" by the fact that surviving POWER TRIP members Blake Ibanez (guitar, vocals), Nick Stewart (guitar, vocals), Chris Whetzel (bass) and Chris Ulsh (drums) played a surprise five-song set last night (Friday, December 1) at Mohawk in Austin, Texas. They were joined for the performance by SKOURGE vocalist Seth Gilmore, who also plays with Ibanez in FUGITIVE, which was the official headliner of last night's gig.
After FUGITIVE finished its set, Gilmore and Blake remained on stage and were soon accompanied by Stewart, Whetzel and Ulsh for performances of POWER TRIP songs "Soul Sacrifice", "Executioner's Tax", "Hornet's Nest", "Manifest Decimation" and "Crucifixation".
Earlier today (Saturday, December 2),the Riley Gale Memorial Foundation and Gale family released the following statement: "The Riley Gale Memorial Foundation & Gale family are aware of the event that took place at Mohawk in Austin, TX on December 1st, 2023. It caught us entirely by surprise.
"At no point in the planning or lead up to that moment was anyone in the Gale family consulted, or even invited. We were not asked our thoughts or feelings about it taking place. If we were, we would have liked to discuss who would fill in on vocals, since Riley had laid out very specific requests for this exact scenario.
"We would have requested it take place in Dallas, where Riley and POWER TRIP were born, and where Riley was instrumental in building up the Dallas hardcore and metal community before even setting foot on stage as a performer. We would have liked it to be a surprise and wonderful addition to the Riley Gale & Friends Day concert, the main fundraising event for the Riley Gale Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that supports the causes Riley cared about as well as aiding up-and-coming bands through the Riley Gale Band Touring Grant.
"Riley's family would have liked the opportunity to show our appreciation to you, Riley's fans who continue to support him by listening and buying albums because we know how much his lyrics and music meant to his fans.
"As Blake said on stage at Mohawk, they owe a lot to Riley, and the Gale family agrees wholeheartedly.
"Riley's family was not included, and that's unfortunate, but for those among you who love Riley and what he stood for, you can show your love by buying albums directly from Southern Lord Records and becoming a part of the Riley Gale Memorial Foundation at the link below.
"Keep an eye out for our announcement of Riley And Friends Vol. 3 early next year — it will feature bands that Riley knew and loved along with hundreds (hopefully thousands) of Riley's fans and family.
"'Birth. Life. Death. Repeat. The goal is to manifest higher than before.'
"REST IN POWER. www.rileygale.org ".
Prior to last night's gig, featuring openers DRESSCODE and NINTH CIRCLE, the Mohawk venue teased a "special guest" on the concert flyer and added, "Less than 100 tickets left, trust us you don't want to miss this show."
Gale died on August 25, 2020. An autopsy report for Gale ruled that he died from the toxic effects of fentanyl, while the manner of death was ruled accidental.
Following the news of Gale's death, a number of other artists shared tributes to the frontman, including members of CODE ORANGE, ANTHRAX and COHEED AND CAMBRIA.
Riley guested on the track "Point The Finger" on BODY COUNT's "Carnivore" album, released in March 2020, and BODY COUNT frontman Ice-T later suggested in an interview with Stereogum that Gale's death was opioid-related. Ice-T said in December 2020: "When we shot the video [for 'Point The Finger'], he looked healthy. It was a good vibe. That's why I got blindsided when I got the call from his dad, who said that Riley passed away. Apparently, he was dealing with the same bullshit everyone is — this opioid stuff. He'd gotten clean, and when you relapse, you go back to the same dose you're used to and it kills you. It was a really sad thing."
Gale's autopsy report noted that he died from pulmonary edema — a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs. This was caused by "the toxic effects of fentanyl" in Gale's system. The fentanyl in Gale's blood was measured at 22.5 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter),and he tested negative for all other drugs and alcohol.
The report went on to note that Gale had a "history of Xanax abuse" and a "history of depression," and revealed Riley was found "unresponsive on the floor at home."
In October 2020, plans were announced for the Riley Gale Library at the Dallas Hope Center — the city's sole shelter for LGBTQ+ youth.
POWER TRIP released two albums on Southern Lord, 2013's "Manifest Decimation" and 2017's "Nightmare Logic". A rarities compilation, "Opening Fire: 2008-2014", followed in 2018.
"Nightmare Logic" peaked at No. 22 on Billboard's Hard Rock Albums chart.
POWER TRIP was said to be working on its third album at the time of Riley's death.
Photo by Sarah Churchill
Please keep supporting Riley directly by listening to Power Trip and purchasing albums directly from Southern Lord #RGF #RILEYGALEFOREVER #powertrip #powertriptx #cicadas
Posted by The Riley Gale Memorial Foundation on Saturday, December 2, 2023