Lisbon Psych Fest

Lisbon Psych Fest


The time is here for the second outing of the event known as Lisbon Psych Fest, hosted by Killer Mathilde at the impressive Teatro do Bairro located in the heart of Lisbon and offering all the rustic charm you could want.

The venue itself used to be a former printing press, but there is not much trace of that now and the impressive multi-storey setting offers a balcony, some slightly treacherous stairs and a good size stage; things are looking promising.

After a somewhat delayed start, Ganso are the first band on the bill. The Portuguese five piece are the first set of local talent that the promoters have selected for tonight and they offer an eclectic and unusual blend of sound. They open with ‘Gansão’, a sound perforated with organ bursts and melodic guitar. ‘La Praia’ is a new track from their forthcoming debut album and is jangly and catchy. Mid-set we have the bass guitar being played with a bow, which is something slightly different. The highlight comes in the form of concluding track ‘Pistoleira’, taken from EP Costela Ofendida that was released in November 2015, which is more melodic than its predecessors and ties their set off neatly. It’s a good start to the evening.

Dreamy alt rockers Sun Blossoms are up next, with their trippy pop with psychedelic roots. ‘Flower Eyes’ is an early highlight and channels beach vibes reminiscent of the Allah-Las. ‘Like I Do’, taken from their self-titled debut LP released in September 2015, is sufficiently dreamy to have the crowd swaying along nicely, and concluding track ‘Happy’ leaves the crowd exactly that. We’re two local bands in now and it’s nice to see the crowd appreciating home grown talent.

Chui Wan are somewhat of an enigma, the experimental quartet from Beijing are an interesting addition to the bill and they open with ‘Seven Chances’, taken from their self-titled second album released in May 2015. It’s an intriguing proposition with a mix of electric sound and a throbbing bass line and has the crowd inching forward curiously. ‘Vision’ adds a jazz element into the fray and this is a real dance along track and this is not lost on the audience who are really getting into things now. Ending with ‘Beijing Is Sinking’, a lengthy and striking track which ebbs and flows gracefully striking at the consciousness in its wake. Chui Wan were a completely unknown entity to me prior to tonight, but I am certainly a fan now.

Chicos De Nazca photo by Leanne Crowley

Chicos De Nazca photo by Leanne Crowley

Chileans Chicos de Nazca have gone from strength to strength recently, and their inclusion on tonight’s bill was one of its main draws for me. They play a set comprising of the old and new, including the welcome addition of ‘Coming All the Time’ from 2014 album Blowing Inside and ‘Hey Lord, Hey Babe’ with its drawled guitar sounds and hypnotic rhythm. ‘I Wanna Bring You Here’ is the one that gets everyone dancing along however and who can blame them, this is track is too catchy not too. Their set has gone down a storm here and with the sufficiently trippy visuals performing wonders in the background, the night is going well.

The next band needs no introduction to both the local and tourist crowd alike. Fuzz Club Records’ 10 000 Russos are already on the second repress of their self-titled debut LP, as well as having a second album in the making. Having burst onto the scene last year their presence has caused quite a stir, and as they embark on an 11 country 25 date tour, I think it’s fair to say these guys are ones to watch. Their set tonight comprises an even balance of old and new and starts with the dark and pounding ‘Karl Burns’. We then progress into two new and more up tempo tracks, ‘One Second Yugoslavia’ will, I am certain, become an instant favourite among the faithful with its pulsating bass and guitar effects, not to mention the slightly surreal vocals coming from drummer and singer João. ‘Germinal March’ offers something a bit different to their other tracks, yet in-keeping with the style we know and love, and hints at the direction the band are looking to pursue; if this anything to go by we are in for something special. ‘UsVsUs’ never fails to impress live and does so here tonight. Its clear now the crowd are basking in their glow and move along happily to the sway created within the sound. Their set is over far too quickly for my liking and I think most of the crowd would agree as they whoop and cheer their departure.

The Underground Youth are a band who have been on any psych fans radar for some time, having been around since 2008. Sound problems mare the beginning of the set and they have to take a moment two songs in to assess the situation. That sorted, they continue and roll out songs from their impressive back catalogue; ‘In The Dark I See’ from 2013 LP The Perfect Enemy for God, ‘I Need You’ from LP Delirium released in 2011 and ‘Collapsing into Night’ from the Haunted EP released last September. ‘The Rules Of Attraction’ is always an experience live and tonight is no exception, with three of the four members venturing into the crowd. Its clear from the reception received that Lisbon is not used to this kind of thing and it goes down a storm. A cover of Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ ends the set and the slant they place on this one ensures the room is bouncing before they wrap it up.

With day one concluded at just after 4am, the crowd beat a hasty retreat; some much needed sleep is due in preparation for tomorrow.

The Underground Youth photo by Leanne Crowley

The Underground Youth photo by Leanne Crowley

Day Two is opened by Twin Transistors from central Portugal. They start with ‘Francesca’, a catchy jangly number which soon sets the mood. They improve with confidence as the set goes on and they are soon visibly relaxed and by the time concluding number ‘Stell’ is abound, they are really in the swing of things. Plenty have turned out early to watch them and once more the local bad has gone down well with the Portuguese crowd.

Alek Rein, a character created according to the concept of heteronym by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, are an interpretation of afore mentioned with guitar and vocal arrangements. ‘Golden Man’ taken from 2010 EP Gemini is an early highlight with its stand out guitar riff and ‘Vermillion Bird of the South’ is another crowd pleaser with its fast, upbeat tempo and thought provoking lyrics. Another new experience for the non-Portuguese amongst us and a very enjoyable experience all round.

French lads You Said Strange are third on the bill this evening, opening with ‘Brain’ taken from their new EP#2, mixed by Black Market Karma’s Stanley Belton, released in March this year, gets things off to a flying start with its melodic shoegaze vibes. ‘Rust’ and ‘Tilleli’ come back to back with sizzling effect and as they progress the crowd are buoyant, lapping up the sounds on display. Having never seen You Said Strange before, but having heard their name banded about by all the right people, they are the highlight of day two at Lisbon Psych Fest and a band I’ll be certain to check out again.

TAU, who channel a ritualistic shamanic vibe, are something of an experience all of their own. They are Shaun Nanutzi, of Dead Skeletons and Gerald Pasqualin, a Venezuelan multi-instrumentalist. Their debut EP Wirikuta on Fuzz Club Records in July 2015 and have announced this week that their debut LP will be released on the same label later this year. The euphoric ‘Huey Tonatzin’ is without doubt the stand out track tonight, its stunning blend of chanting and guitar sound blended seamlessly with hand drumming and bells jangling. The rest of their set is comprised of new songs, assumedly from the forthcoming album, and if tonight is anything to go by, its going to be quite something.

The festival has been a collection of fresh Portuguese psych with a smattering of well known names thrown in to keep the balance. The venue is a great choice for a small festival and it is hard to find fault with the organisation of it as a whole. The overruns on both nights caused problems for some, and some sound issues didn’t help matters but overall Killer Mathilde have put together something unique here and credit goes to them for their ambition.

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Lover of all things psych and shoegaze and the mind behind Astral Elevator; constantly seeking new musical experiences in a world full of noise.