The second day of Psych Lab is looking good. A great line-up with a lot of variation. We’re in luck when it comes to the weather. The stormy night before has brought much needed relief to the temperatures, which are much more bearable now. Onward to another day of amazing music by the likes of Earth, The Soft Moon, Toy and many more. Psych Lab has many surprises left for the visitors today.
While waiting for a band to start, it’s definitely worth your while to try the beers of Van Moll, the local city brewery (actually in the middle of Eindhoven). These people have made two special beers for Psych Lab, of which one even contains mushrooms (not magical). So not only is visual and aural covered, the taste buds are also taken care of. Props for the perfect meal service as well of course. Anyways, let’s get to the music. Even more cool, the festival has its own compilation on sale. Not on a CD, no… an actual vinyl sampler out on Trouble In Mind Records. That is pretty much the coolest thing you can get from a festival you’re visiting. Merch stands can be found in the lobby as well as in the Effenaar restaurant, where many people are trying to grab some new additions to their vinyl collection. Or they are just sitting outside, enjoying a bit of sunshine and fresh air, while enjoying a beverage.
In Zaïre is playing a powerful bit of full sounding psych in the Observatory. The sound seems disorganized in its organization, which creates an amazing atmosphere and energy, that actually is bringing the mysterious aura of the dark continent the name suggests. Even more exotic is the sound of Kikagaku Moyo from Japan, whose set can only be appreciated by the people who witnessed it from start to end. So gradually the intro emerges, that you can hardly compare it to anything else than the sun rising in the early morning. The meditative sounds are compelling you to just drift away with the band’s music. Ever slowly the songs waft through the venue so gracefully. The band itself looks totally in focus, controlling their output by keeping it minimal and never letting go too much of what they are delivering. From the chiming bells at the opening of the set till the very end, this band is something special in the line-up today, offering a unique experience. It’s completely soothing for the listeners, who emerge with a new calm from the Main Lab.
Because the Main Lab is running behind a little, one can only catch a brief glimpse of Dead Rabbits, who play a loose sounding bit op psych rock, with a hint of sleaze in its meandering sound. Contrary to the record sound, live this has an energetic element to it, which is unfortunately over too soon. Keeping music evil on the main stage is The Cult Of Dom Keller, who know exactly how some good psych needs to sound. Repeating riff with a static feel. The vocals comprise an important part of the sound as well, giving that haunting aspect which gives this band a typical sound. Add to that fuzz, a lot of fuzz and you have a very pleasant show.
Last year, Psych Lab had the surprising act Terakaft on day two. This year its Mdou Moctar from Niger. The sound of the Sahara is brought by this band, playing tuareg desert blues. Endless cyclic repeated riffs on a slow, funky pace make for a hypnotic experience that is exactly fitting in with this festival. Wearing the traditional garbs, the group does stand out from the regular crowd, but since this is Psych Lab, who really cares? The finger picking guitar work feels so detailed and precise, it’s a pleasure to watch these guys work their magic. The rhythm slowly induces a feeling of staring in the distance on a hot day, in the desert and seeing the heat rise, making your view hazy like in a state of trance. It’s that endless view that is being portrayed in their music, which is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately all things do end at Psych Lab and with a ‘Merci’, the band leaves the stage in what appears to be as much confusion as the audience. Bed Rugs quickly brings us back to psych land, blending Beatles-esque pop with languid dreamy psych rhythms. Add a bit of Tame Impala to that and this is what you get, but different. The Antwerp band does not stand out particularly today, but does a good job.
Toy brings some energy, together with a wall of sound and playful electronics that surround the voice of Tom Dougall’s surly voice, which continually hints at boredom (the good kind, the one you like to hear in a singers voice). It’s something like hearing Subway Sect play together with Neu! over the equipment of the Jesus And Mary Chain. It’s pretty cool, but not all together tight. What the band does bring is some gear changes, which is lacking in a few bands today and tends to become a drag at some point. That only increases with The Lucid Dream, who are one of the most intense acts of the day. Playing some heavy hitting psych, the band may look like they’re not going to smash stuff up, they do actually go for the high soaring guitars and squealing reverb. I can’t help but feel reminded of Apoptygma Berzerk somewhere in the middle of the flooding waves of guitar noise. That may just be me though and I had to get back to the main stage for the great ones.
One of the most out there acts of the fest is playing and it’s the one and only Earth. You wouldn’t miss that now, would you? Dylan Carlson and his troops are going to fill only 45 minutes, which is far too little for the lords of drone. Opening up with Torn By The Fox Of The Crescent Moon, the long, foreboding tones, bring down a darkness over the Main Lab. If all the other musicians deliver under the metaphor of scientists, than this is the Doctor Frankenstein of the show. The continuous threat of this song from the latest studio effort drips from the walls like black ooze. It’s not all grim though, the sweet tones of The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull are a pleasure to the ear. Carlson seems to struggle getting the notes right at times though, but that hardly matters. Earth is, by just appearing tonight, one of the highlights.
That was until The Soft Moon kicked of their set, offering a new high to Psych Lab with an intense post-punk mixture of industrial, psych, noise and stadium rock. The concoction is a potent mixture it seems and the first tones get the crowd going in front of the stage, dancing like there’s no tomorrow. Pitch black synths accompany the commanding vocals of Luis Vasquez. The show is full of energy, of movement and filled with darkness like the good old EBM days. Hacking beats, sharp riffs and so impressive, the set never gets dull for a moment. This show is the absolute highlight of Psych Lab, particularly according to the awe struck faces appearing after the show on the stairs down from the Main Lab, heading for the show of Black Bombaim down in the Observatory. The band kicks of their rhythmic jam on a pleasant, funky pace, waiting for a long time to let the saxophone kick in. Maybe not everyone is into it after the previous act, but the hypnotic sound of these Portuguese fellows is totally enthralling. Sticking to that steady groove, the sound evolves and unfolds into a trippy psych landscape, taking you by the hand in the world of these guys. The ambiance created by the lights matches their latest record, which only adds further to the experience. The band plays tight to a tired audience, that may not show it, but clearly enjoys these sounds.
Then only remains the energetic and danceable electro-rock by K-X-P and the kraut of zZz, but by this time the visitors seem to be out of breath for more dancing. Nodding heads is the most you can still get from them, worn out from two amazing days of Psych Lab. The festival has a lot of potential to build their own scene, not unlike Roadburn. It just needs to grow, but I feel that Psych Lab is going to be alright if they keep pushing the envelope on the psych/kraut/space front, the way they’ve been doing.
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Paul Verhagen (www.achromemoments.nl)