– FRIDAY –photo

Liverpool’s third eye opened for the 2nd annual International Festival of Psychedelia over the weekend of September 27-28, drawing in crowds from countries as far as Mexico and as close as Europe, to interconnect in all things psych-otic. Over 2,000 committed ‘PZYKonauts’ gathered in Liverpool’s most cultural quarter, The Baltic Triangle, to whet their palettes over the course of these two days in celebration of art, culture and music in one congregated global psychedelic village.

I arrive with my photographer Jack and a few mates at Psych Fest around 7:30pm on the Friday night. From first glance, the festival is overflowing with cool. Bands, beer, beards – only the most important things are to be seen. Large posters with the trademark LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA designs give us notice that we’re here and it’s all happening. The wait is over.

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Photography by Jack McVann
(jackmcvann.net)

The Wild Eyes are my first band to catch in the garage-feel corner of the Blade Factory. We rush to make it to this show, as I missed them in May open for Night Beats and Sankofa, a Liverpool band who have spent four years nurturing their psyche tinged plethora of prog rock, and one I majorly hope to see on the bill for 2014.

Hailing from the North West and North Wales, The Wild Eyes label themselves as rock n’ roll weirdos drenched in reverb. They play a vicious set behind projected Psych Fest logos on the wall, as a full crowd swells the room, feeding off the snarling vocals and bass lines rooted right from classic psychedelia. We are all pleased with our first show of the festival, though some are in despair that they didn’t play their howling single ‘I Look Good On You.’

I revel in the atmosphere of Psych Fest for the next hour and really take it all in. Paisley shirts, fringe vests, tie-dye, ice cream trucks, hot dogs, burgers, a baby with noise reducer headphones on – it seems like your typical festival, but I have a feeling Psych Fest has much more in store for us. As we walk around we stumble across Shindig!’s Psych Shorts Film Caravan wedged near an entrance of Camp, where one step inside swallows you like a dry pill with some of the trippiest, mind-bending short films from all corners of the cosmos.

Already the anticipation to watch our favourite bands is growing, and the time is near. Dan Hewitson of Liverpool’s psychedelic film company Freakbeat Films, tells me who he’s looking forward to over the week’s end. “I’m most excited to see Night Beats make their Liverpool return. The gig [we put on] in May at The Shipping Forecast was amazing and they’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen this year. I also can’t wait to see Ty Segall’s new band Fuzz, Moon Duo, Dead Meadow and Psychic Ills.” General consensus around me boils down to Fuzz on Saturday night, Night Beats in less than an hour, and Moon Duo at midnight. God Save The Queen, it’s all about to kick off .

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Photography by Jack McVann
(jackmcvann.net)

Everyone knows this, you lose your friends at a festival and you have to get really good at A.) Remembering what they’re wearing B). Trying not to panic when you can’t find them and the best band is about to start. Luckily Jack and I stick together at this point and spontaneously bound towards Furnace, walking in on a set where we don’t know who is playing. Jack holds his camera in the air and tells me to follow him, sneaking through a tightly sewn audience who were actually more than welcome to let us push past them to the front. We make it to the top of the stage and I ask a fellow PZYKonaut who’s on. “DEAD MEADOW!” she yells as she continues swaying her head to the music. Shit. Dumb luck that we ended up here and forgot this was a band we came here to watch. I lose Jack as he heads into the photo pit and I get a bit lost in Dead Meadow’s set which honestly feels like a lengthy jam sesh and is far too slow for 9:30pm on a Friday night. Twenty minutes felt like a lifetime and I left to get some air, finding all my mates outside where we agree it was just not what we expected. “Dead Meadow were a disappointment. The sound let it down and I think I had overly high expectations” says Louis Dutton of psychedelic art duo Blakhand Design. “It was a shame because I was most looking forward to that.”

night beats

Photography by Jack McVann
(jackmcvann.net)

Later on we reconnect with the guys from Night Beats outside Camp and ask them how tour has been since we hung out with them in May. Danny Lee and James Traeger  jokingly warns us to tell Ty [Segall] on Saturday that “Liverpool is ours, he should stick to California.” Enough said.
Night Beats take the stage at 10:30pm in Camp, blending their mix of Texas rock with psych overtones and cast a spell on the floating crowd as Danny Lee shreds a few of his lengthy experimental solos. Highlights of the set include ‘Puppet On A String’ and a twister of tracks from their newly released record Sonic Bloom. “Personally I was looking forward to Night Beats,” says Alex Wynne, illustrator behind Blakhand Design. “They delivered on so many levels and ended with the very brave bass player climbing the speaker system to the side of the stage. Bravo.” As is the way it goes a festival, two of your favourite acts are bound to play at the same time, which was the case for Night Beats and Psychic Ills. We make a mad dash from Camp to Furnace and catch the beginning of Psychic Ills, where flashing lights and pieces of the Innerstrings Psychedelic Lightshow bounce off the white screens hung from the ceiling. It’s all too much to take. Psychic Ills impress with ‘Might Take A While’ from 2013’s One Track Mind as the psych dabblers in the crowd scream when they recognize the woozy guitar intro.

It feels like the hours go by too quickly as our minds wander with the excitement of Day 1. With widest appeal among mainstream psych fans, Moon Duo’s set begin with minor technical difficulties and then eventually we are graced with four cloaked figures throwing roses into the crowd with choral music orchestrating around them. Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada appear amidst the lights and drop jaws with the likes of ‘I Been Gone’ and ‘Motorcycle I Love You’ proving for us that the first night of Psych Fest ended on a rather high note.

moon duo

Photography by Jack McVann
(jackmcvann.net)

Saturday’s Review Here

Brit Jean

I'm known as Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester. We're always looking for contributors so if you love music and writing, get in touch with us at Silent Radio! x