Liverpool Psych Fest 2014


Where better to hold a celebration of psychedelia than Liverpool? As a major port city, Liverpool was the gateway to the new world for so long, the hub through which new ideas flowed and the unknown arrived. Not only that, events like this are unlikely to exist without two sons of the city, George Harrison and John Peel, who (amongst others) brought psychedelic music into the lives of many ordinary citizens.

The venue is faultless too. Camp & Furnace is a collection of former industrial warehouses converted into a multi-purpose space – part restaurant, part football fanpark, and part anything you need it to be.  This weekend it houses three stages each containing a collection of trippy visuals, Technicolor light shows and awesome soundsystems.

As for the music, loud and hypnotic dominates; the influence of Neu and Suicide is felt all around. Leading the charge are The Lucid Dream who take playing a ‘classic’ album to extremes and use their 45 minute set to showcase their as-yet-unreleased second album in its entirety. There is a typical northern swagger to the Cumbrians but the confidence in their new record is more than justified. Sounding more refined than on their debut LP, the show moves seamlessly from krautrock into a Spritualized-like fusion of jazz, dub and rock’n’roll. If that sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. If the band replicate on record the joys heard here, it could well be the classic record they predict. Similarly impressive are Pow! Whose heavy sonic assault is well worthy of their Batman comic book name.

Fusing throbbing beats with prog rock, Teeth of the Sea are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Revellers are grooving to the pulsating electro, wigging out to the guitar noodling and losing themselves in the futuristic Jean Michel Jarre keys; it all melds together to produce a danceable soundtrack to a dystopian future. It may sound a bit much, but every minute was an absolute joy.

It isn’t all drone and gloom though, and as early evening pick-me-ups go, few can quibble with Quilt. Their bright and breezy West Coast pop serves as an excellent reminder of the carefree flower power side of psychedelia. Likewise, Los Angeles quartet Allah-Las provide the sort of sunny sixties grooves that made San Francisco the symbol of the peace and love.

If garage rock revivalism and pure unadulterated noise doesn’t do it for you, then fear not. Cocteau Twins-esque The Besnard Lakes sound glorious; their husband/wife shared vocals are beautiful as their ethereal sound soars majestically at the Camp stage. Equally, the atmospheric pop of Grumbling Fur would be more at home on the 6Music A-list than Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone but the change of pace is welcome as the London duo deliver an intriguing set of ear friendly hooks and electro-leaning indie rock.

Beyond the stellar music, the team behind Psych Fest have nailed every other aspect of the festival. Away from the main bars Liverpool Craft Beer Co provide an outstanding selection of ales including a couple they brewed specially for the festival. A mazy first floor offers a cinema, mesmerising art installations and a packed Piccadilly Record pop-up with stock dedicated to the bill. For the hungry (and greedy) jerk chicken and chips stand out from an excellent range including wood fired pizzas, rump burgers and nachos piled high.

Eating and exploring over with, time for seemingly everyone to cram into the Furnace stage for headliners Goat. Wearing masks and robes onstage, the Swedish collective are truly mystical band. Goat’s music is a party, where everyone is free and Ravi Shankar, George Clinton Ray Manzarek collide to form the most beautiful cocktail. This is true voodoo rock, where every corner of the globe seems to have their say. The highlight is undoubtedly merging Run To Your Mama into Goathead produced ten of the best minutes of music I’ve ever heard which perfectly encapsulates everything that is brilliant about the current psych movement – it is adventurous, ambitious and absolutely brilliant.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia  Official | Facebook | Twitter


Joseph Curran

Features Editor and gig reviewer