Psychic Ills, Föllakzoid, Outside: Quarters, 3/10/13

Mon Mar 11 2013

Look, they even have “psych” right in their name!  Of course, it’s not just due to the Tame Impala buzz, but the Australian psych-rock purveyors are certainly at the forefront of a massive surge in the genre.  Brooklyn record label Sacred Bones has been promoting various shades of post-punk and psych for years now, however, and it appears that the timing is perfect for two of the label’s prominent up-and-coming acts.  The tour that stopped at Quarters Rock ‘N Roll Palace Sunday night featured New York’s Psychic Ills topping the bill, but they proved to be the least interesting band of the night.

The opener was Milwaukee’s Outside, a trio which includes Kelsey Kaufmann from Centipedes and George Ananchev from Absolutely and definitely sounds like a mixture of those two bands combined with equal parts Melvins and Slint.  It was bluesy, metallic, bombastic, mathematic, music for people who like guitar riffs.  Occasionally, there were Kevin Parker-esque sounds and layers, but the overall style was heavier and more progressive, not pop at all.  It was loud, but not loud enough to justify Föllakzoid keyboardist Alfredo Thiermann repeatedly covering his ears as he stood at the bar, odd behavior given the decidedly noisy bent of all bands involved.  For a trio that’s only been playing since last August, Outside was remarkably tight, especially given the shifting tempos and time signatures within its songs.  Color me instantly excited for whatever this band does in the future.

Föllakzoid played next, a set that may or may not have been one continuous jam.  There were certainly elements of pieces from the band’s second full-length, II, which came out in January, but this band is about taking simple motifs and stretching and pummeling them relentlessly.  These guys obviously pray fervently to krautrock-deity Can, but their performance was indebted to Kevin Shields as much as anyone else.  Moments of thrilling intensity kept the crowd interested as they punctuated lengthy periods of beat-driven drone, but the occasional melodies were buried pretty deeply under layers of semi-permeable noise; at times it was tough to actually discern any sound recognizable as a guitar.  If only drummer Diego Lorca could’ve laid off the monotonous hi-hat every once in a while; these charged ambient excursions could really go to a different level with some more dynamic percussion elements, not to mention more pronounced lead guitar, which is actually more prominent on the album that it was at this show.  Still, the overall effect was at least intermittently enthralling; there’s a lot of potential in this band, and lots of different directions its sound could evolve in.

It was past midnight when Psychic Ills came on, ending any chance of Moss Folk getting to play (some day I will see that band, dammit), and again, the shoegaze element was much more dominant than on their albums.  There’s nothing wrong with shoegaze!  But the band relied more on waves of effects than actual songs; the subtleties that are apparent especially on 2011’s great Hazed Dream album were obliterated by overzealous noise.  The strangest thing about both these so-called psychedelic bands was how utterly humorless they were; not a smile was cracked by anyone in either band the whole night, and Psychic Ills gave off the vibe of an overly-serious Brian Jonestown Massacre without the unhinged mastermind and irresistible hooks.  The music was good, but the performance was wooden.  They came off like a band that had nothing to prove.  They ought to be careful not to take the psych-rock revival for granted.

Comments on this article from long ago

2013-04-28 matthew k.
good review as always cal. I am behind on my SB collection for 2013. The new men album is good and only "good". The new psychic ills album was soso from what i heard and I have the RSD SB stuff sitting in my caa unlistened.
2013-05-06 Cal
Thanks dude! I agree on The Men & Psychic Ills. Some real gems on that SB RSD sampler though.
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