For many of us, he was the dude we aspired to be, in one way or another, for as long as we could remember. His words of wisdom and onstage ferocity launched Power Trip and the city of Dallas back into the heavy-metal consciousness for the first time since the bygone era of Pantera and Drowning Pool.
Whether it was through music or Twitter beefs, Gale's perseverance was felt by all, as publications from Rolling Stone to Fox News paid respects to Gale last week. In honor of the legend that is forever Riley Gale, here are 10 standout moments from his musical career.
Power Trip Destroys House of Strombo
Power Trip's brand of hardcore-meets-old-school-thrash-metal created a volatile onstage atmosphere, and just about every show upped the ante from the night before. The band's whip-like aggression carried over into its fans, who were known for causing wild brawls and destroying swanky SXSW rooftop events. The fans were pretty subdued for this 2018 Power Trip performance at House of Strombo, a popular Canadian radio show where artists perform inside George Stroumboulopoulos' house. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to Slayer has performed inside the broadcaster's Toronto home, and it's pretty cool to see Power Trip throw down for four songs without breaking that crystal chandelier.
Balls Out, The Door
Gale's former band Balls Out was where the future Power Trip frontman developed his stage presence. Former Honor Killing Productions promoter and Observer contributor James Khubiar recalled a 2005 show where Gale was attacked in the crowd and the whole place erupted in his defense. "No one knew who did it, so all the Dallas hardcore kids beat up everyone on the right side of the room they didn't know to ensure they got Riley’s attackers," Khubiar said. The cops were eventually called, and by the time the headlining band hit the stage, the entire crowd was chanting "Balls Out, Balls Out," a regular occurrence. Unfortunately, there's no video, but here's 2007 footage from Red Blood Club to give you an idea.
Power Trip trashes rooftop showcase during 2013 SXSW
Power Trip's SXSW performances are the stuff of legend as the band would typically perform several times during the festival with each show being just as chaotic as the last. In 2013, the band was invited to perform a showcase for Sony Corporation, which turned out to be a bad idea for the Japanese conglomerate. "Sony had the bright idea of putting us on a show and then filling the venue up with all their expensive equipment," Gale told website The Quietus later that year: "There was a wall of nine 50-inch flat screens behind us while we played. I'm pretty sure most people can guess what happened. But let's just say lots of things were broken, thrown, smoked and smashed, and we were shut down and politely asked to get the fuck out ASAP." While there's no video of that show, we did track down a video from later that week in which Power Trip played Austin's Lamar Pedestrian Bridge while fans moshed and set off fireworks.
Power Trip on PBS
One year after the rooftop show, during SXSW 2014, Power Trip was hilariously featured on PBS' Everything But the News series, which provided the band its very own This Is Spinal Tap moment. After reporter Steve Goldbloom failed to cover the band from the center of a mosh pit, he went behind the scenes to interview Gale and the rest of the band, where they discussed yoga, salad prep and Downton Abbey.
Riley Gale guests on Body Count's Song "Point the Finger"
If you need proof that Power Trip was entering the upper echelon of metal bands, just check out Gale's guest appearance on Body Count's 2020 track "Point the Finger." The band, fronted by rapper Ice-T, is known for its fiery political lyrics, and "Point the Finger" continues that theme by taking a hard look at police brutality and the Amber Guyger case. Ice-T said the track was "the hardest song on the album," and he wasn't lying. It rips.
Power Trip beefs with Fox News, then befriends host
In 2017, Fox News anchor (and apparent metalhead) Greg Gutfeld, used the band's most popular song "Executioner's Tax (Swing of the Axe)" during his show, which prompted Power Trip to issue a cease and desist letter to the television network. "Let's get something straight," the band wrote on Twitter. "We wouldn't be happy about being played on any major 'news' network, but most especially Fox. If you don't like our stances, don't support our band." In the end, it looks like things worked out as Gutfeld revealed that he and Gale became friends after the incident.
Power Trip beefs with Trapt
2020 was the year Californian rock band Trapt, known for its 2005 one-hit-wonder "Headstrong," made the mistake of publically embracing far-right conspiracies, praising President Donald Trump's handling of coronavirus and criticizing "victim mentality" among African Americans, all of which resulted with the band getting trolled by a large portion of social media. Gale quickly jumped in on the action, offering a challenge to see who could draw the biggest hometown crowd. "Want to put it to the test?" Gale asked on Twitter. "Two shows, different venues, same night. Loser donates their entire guarantee to a charity of the winner's choosing." Unsurprisingly, Trapt never directly responded to the challenge. The whole exchange is pretty hilarious.
Power Trip performs a chaotic set at This is Hardcore 2014
Power Trip's 2014 This Is Hardcore set has been shared widely on social media since Gale's death and for good reason. Not only does the show's crowd turn frenetic as soon as there's feedback, but Gale's tribute to a fallen friend hits right in the feels. "We've all lost friends in the building, and it ain't right. It's hard; life sucks. You only get one shot at it, so enjoy it while you can." Gale then proceeds to bring the ruckus. Amazingly, no one was hit by his swinging microphone.
Little Punk People interviews Power Trip
Little Punk People's Elliott Fullam interviewed Gale last November, and it's pretty awesome to watch the camaraderie between Gale and the young music fan. Gale's enthusiasm is apparent, and it's gut-wrenching to hear the fallen metal hero give his thoughts on death and reincarnation. "I believe that if you try to be a good person on Earth, I think there's a higher plane of existence that you can reach," Gale said. "That's probably a bit more enjoyable than being a human being."
Kerrang! calls Power Trip the No. 1 American metal band of the decade
In a recent feature by Kerrang!, the longest-running metal mag called Power Trip the "best American band from the last decade." Considering the magazine was the first to use the term "thrash metal," that's pretty high praise. "Power Trip gets the number one spot here because they're making the most exciting, relevant, and utterly fucking kickass thrash metal in the world right now," they wrote. "Everything about this band rules ..." Between this and countless appearances on year-end lists from sites such as Metal Injection and Loudwire, there was no doubt that the world was taking notice.
Rest in power, Riley.