The second day offers a totally new experience. The Friday lineup seems rather close to the core of the sound that Psych Lab offers. Saturday offered many surprisingly strong acts, different sounds and an atmosphere that has progressed from the careful explorations to a great festival. The venue has thought of everything and offers a fairly priced lunch and dinner for the hungry souls coming in on the early afternoon.
From Denmark come The Woken Trees, with a typical Scandinavian sound. Sober, atmospheric and with a hint of mystery, their sound fills the room in front of the Observatory stage on the ground floor like a church. The band released their album in 2013, titled ‘Nnon’. Just like the album, the set is filled with gloomy postpunk infused music which combined with the chanting vocal style of Kim Heyst darkens the room. It’s as if you’ve walked into a secret ceremony. The chemistry between the band members is rather special as well, though the music is cold, that seems very warm and leads to a surprisingly good set in the sweltering afternoon.
Disappears has started weaving a blanket of sound in the Main Lab. The Fingerpicking guitar work adds tiny details to the intrinsic pattern of their craft. It’s like a mist of music where the listener easily gets lost in. The band uses a lot of smoke on the stage, which adds to their hazy sound which is somewhere in the middle between Birthday Party and White Lies, made in a concrete jungle. The guitarwork shapes up the distinct sound of these guys, who play a good set. They don’t really blow you away, but there’s plenty left for that.
I would like to talk to you about The Wands. The Danish duo enlisted some guys to play live and this works out great. There’s something bewitching about their live set, it’s that old fashioned psychedelic rock that genuinely feels dangerous. As if there is something happening here, that is for the privileged few. The music is inspired by whatever was hot in an age bygone, giving of the vibe of somewhere between Velvet Underground and 13th Floor Elevators. Drug infused titles like ‘I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic’ tell us enough. Lazily spun riffs build up gently and effortlessly to peaks from where it floats away. Did I mention they also kept the shirts from 1963? Anyone who missed these hookah hoggers really missed something today.
The boys from Föllakzoid are here for a second time within a year. Last time they played Hit The City festival, where their spacerock was so spacy it seemed to float away from most listeners. This time the set is much more sturdy. Laying down a groove that lasts forever, launching the songs around them. The Chileans breathe new life into the German krautrock of the seventies, soaring through the great beyond on repetitive patterns that demand attention. Hypnotizing and full sounding, but always light and floating, they’re not an easy listen for those that come in a bit later. Somewhere between Neu! And Kyuss these guys have found a sound that definitely is one of a kind and well worth its place on this Psych Lab.
As structured as their predecessor sounded, the band playing next in the Observatory is going to be the accelerating, uncontrolled rocket launch. The Cosmic Dead starts in a circle, band members facing each other. A moment of focused stares and then the sounds ignite. Tribal drums and voodoo rhythms come soaring through the air, building up in the continuous jam of this set. Beards and hair are flying wildly through the air. The rolling drums and the wild guitar work builds up to an explosive crescendo. The energy is high, the audience completely entranced in the sonic barrage these Scotsmen produce. The wild riffs and intense drums clash together in a final explosion that leaves the crowd bewildered, gazing at the stage where guitars are hanging from the speakers. One of the members sings a few lines of ‘Old Lang Syne’ and it’s over. A highlight of todays lineup for sure.
That great energy of the Cosmic Dead has a downside as well for the following act, namely the Pink Mountaintops. Their Britpop infused sound is quite simple and pretty calm. The sound is crisp and sunny, with fleet fingered guitar play and a bit of a Happy Mondays feeling to it. The droning rhythm stimulates you to move, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to really catch on. The vocalist sounds as if he can burst into ‘Supersonic’ at any moment. Yes, he does sound a bit like Liam Gallaghar with his whining style of singing.
Luckily, you can get back into things with The Underground Youth. Though on the album these Mancunians sound a lot more shoegazy, on stage there is no doubt of their influences. Somewhere between Joy Division and Suuicide is where we find them. Lazy, riffs give a feeling of doom and darkness, the gothic vocal style combining with that makes them a dark and depressing outfit for this sunny day. The lazy vibe of their record ‘The Perfect Enemy For God’, more reminiscent of the xx, is hard to find here. The martial drum rhythm defines where the listener can place them, to which a few are manically dancing like jerking puppets in front of the stage.
Oddity of today is without a doubt the band Terakaft, with their Saharan desert blues, live on the Main Lab stage. Their warm, Mediterranean sound might not be the revelation of the festival. It feels traditional and therefor comfortable. Nonetheless, it is a nice distraction from the rest of the program. Dressed in traditional garments, these Tuareg bad boys play a gently cascading blues with a remarkable vibe of organic psychedelia to it. It’s calming and fascinating at the same time, hauntingly beautiful and simple at the same time. Not everyone tends to respect the band in the same way, but luckily this is an interested crowd and the band mumbles thanks after every song. Their gentle music distinguishes itself by an eye for detail, from the finger picking guitar play to the outfits, it all works.
Halfway through their set, many fans march downstairs to the Observatory for local spacerock/psych heroes Radar Men From The Moon who are demonstrating their flow of music in silence, letting the music (and the awesome visuals speak for themselves). There are a few mistakes here and there, but no one notices it, because people are hypnotized by the continues stream of sound launching the listener through the stratosphere. Whether you compare them to Isis, Man Or Astro-Man? or Maserati, it never really fits. There is no band like them out there it seems and again they blow away the audience with their sonic journey to the beyond. They pretty much play the whole ‘Strange Wave Galore’ record to a captivated audience, as it should be.
I’d rather be short on The Growlers. Though their performance on the Main Lab stage was alright, it just doesn’t deliver what you’d hope for. The band members look like they’ve wasted enough time drinking beer and using local produce and that doesn’t make the sound as tight as it should be. Sure, their whole thing is the wobbly garage-psych rock. The crowd up front at the stage is either close to or beyond the status of the band members, or in love with their singer Brooks Nielsen. The singer performs from a wheelchair after stage diving on Primavera and breaking his heel. It works out well enough and their warbled sound gets plenty of attention.
Is there more? Yes, there was Wall Of Death, courtesy of Fuzz Club Records. Their eclectic combination of gritty rhythms, synths and other oddities presents the listener with a laid back, captivating set. The sound is full and powerful, but never overwhelming. These Parisians made me think of that brilliant Trainspotting soundtrack during their live performance. Those languid sounds, echoing synths and catchy tunes. The band optimalizes the atmosphere of the Observatory stage with visuals and sound and has a great gig tonight.
Suuns is the headliner for today and the electronic rock band fills up the Main Lab with dancing and dreaming people. The band is tight and clean sounding. A lot of fidgeting takes place before they kick off but it’s forgiven when the tunes catch on. Dancable, sharp cutting riffs and blunt electronics combine into a catchy bunch of songs where the band seems to be more jamming than playing. The electronics are done by Max Henry and this dude really makes it all click for the four piece from Montreal, making the synths sound cold and warm at the same time. The use of lights and smoke finishes up the whole appeal of their set, which gets people to swing around like there’s no tomorrow at the front. An hour long their sound captivates the crowd, parts of which have had their fill and depart afterwards.
Sonic Jesus plays a couple of songs, sounding very interesting indeed. Their dark, foreboding sound is probably missed by a lot of people, but is well worth some attention. The Italians are closely connected to the Dead Skeletons collective, who are also present, doing their thing. The band mixes folk, doom, psych and what else together into a grim and gritty cocktail with a specific punk vibe. The stage presence is strong and I’m pretty sure that everyone feels the venue shrink during this set. The pulsating sound drags you under into the despair echoing in the guitar riffs. This is definitely a secret highlight of the Fest. Not so much for Mugstar, who play a rather dull postmetal riff based repetitive set with more smoke than any band should need. Perhaps it was just not their day, but the band just doesn’t seem inspired, although playing tight.
The very last bit of the Eindhoven Psych Lab, edition one, falls to Night Beats. Their playful garage rock has that dirty, sleazy edge to it, making it work quite well at this time. No complexities, just a bunch of nice tunes to dance or have a beer too. Psych Lab offers a lot and hopefully can expand its horizons and experiments next year. There’s still enough to do in the lab for sure.
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Paul Verhagen (www.achromemoments.nl)