Friday night at KC Psychfest

Strange sounds and styles collide at KC Psychfest.



This is one thing that happened.
  • This is one thing that happened.
It turns out that there are enough bands around town that fit into the psych genre (which is by nature a bit loose) and are capable of whipping up a psych set (which is by nature jammy and improvisatory, based not so much in the writing of songs as in the layering of sounds and, you know, "exploring" and "experimenting"). So the FOKL community arts space hosted a three-day fest showcasing the strange talents of mostly local musicians this past weekend. Here are a few notes about Friday night at the fest from the critic's notebook:

There is a dog that is bigger than four normal dogs sewn together. It looks bored.

Twofaced plays in the basement. A video of a wounded bird eternally flapping in an electric sky blinks over the dude at the synth. This music will be played in the first lunar massage parlors.

  • Discoverer
Discoverer: synths and beats and cracks of electronic snare. Imperfect 2-D shapes are imperfectly projected on imperfect paper-mache 3-D shapes that make up the stage's proscenium. Attendees stand in a sacred semicircle and tap their foots. He doesn't say a word (but has a microphone). The saturation of the sound climaxes in the energy of silence. People clap.

A surprisingly clean futon outside. No one walks up and diagnoses my aura.

Restless Breed
  • Restless Breed
Restless Breed: Trio of psych-synth (or maybe synth-psych) switch between breakdowns and steady grooves, but never move past that, and so grow stale. The prime directive is mood, not song, but a rhythm section holds it down enough to keep it serviceable. The people like it.

All the bands' sets are comfortably short - no more than 30 minutes. Perhaps this is what gives the evening a vaguely German vibe. The up-down-up-down alternation between the two stages (ego-id-ego-id) is in comfortable flux. The many videos projected across the bands have that whole Wizard of Oz/Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon thing going on, in that they appear to be synched with each other. But this is just coincidence fueled by habitual meaning-making. Footage of shapes, colors, amorphous blobs, animations, and stock footage grace the three dimensions of the upstairs and downstairs stages.

  • Yam
Yam: rocking youngsters with a heavy psych bent. Stopped subscribing to new vocal melodies around 1999. Totally legit, fun. The most focused set so far? Perhaps: Their songs have definite beginnings, middles and ends - a rare species this evening. The last song is miscarried, but who cares? Do you honestly care? Go care somewhere else!

A man loudly proclaims the epitaph-worthy truism, "I knew I should have taken drugs."

Box the Compass: sad post-rock songs that probably sound really annoying to their neighbors. Sound bites provide continuity between their songs, sedated but still sweaty. A dilly over here, a dally over there. Thank the cyclops there's no singing. Oh wait, there's singing.

Some crazy band plays - not Japanese-crazy, more like British-crazy. Cannot confirm that it's Metatone; no one can speak in an understandable language. An old man with a beard in a top hat plays a violin with some strange kind of wind instrument attached. I have dreamt of this man in a past life. The singer looks happy and also insane. There's a Caribbean vibe to some of this stuff. The oceans are evaporating and coming back down again this very moment, while people in the crowd dance and move around. There's a fish boy flopping in front of the band.

Sounding the Deep
  • Sounding the Deep
Sounding the Deep plays soundtracks for noir cinema. The sound is quiet, and the people in the room are as silent as in a theater. A drunk girl walks in and drops her phone, twice actually. It's louder than the band. She carries on a conversation with her male friend, about how she's being loud and everyone is so quiet, and how she's leaving because this sucks. The smoke machine goes off.

A dude has a massage chair outside and is convincing in his claims of being licensed.

Can't tell if CVLTS is playing or just checking the levels of their amps and cornucopia of pedals. One of the guys sits on a chair and despondently watches the other fiddle knobs.

The weather is nice; there are no monsters here.

Mr. Marcos V7
  • Mr. Marco's V7
Mr. Marco's V7 has a frightening man on a Theremin, coaxing a strange whistle from it while the others plug along some ineffable psych-funk squall. People aren't dancing but vibrating in the blue light.

Thee Devotion: a traditionally psychedelic band with an old-school feel - thematically matching suits, well-oiled jams and a casino-caliber barnburner of a closing number. Not too many people standing around. Oh, wait, here are some more people.

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