Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Eindhoven Psych Lab festival



For the second year the Eindhoven Psych Lab festival takes place at the Effenaar in Eindhoven. I heard the first edition was pretty good so I wanted to go check it out. Although it's a two day festival I could only make it to the second day, where I was especially looking forward to seeing PAUW, Bed Rugs, The Soft Moon, TOY and zZz.

Eindhoven Psych Lab at Effenaar Eindhoven, June 6 2015



Electric Eye
Unfortunately PAUW had to cancel because of their bass player got ill. Electric Eye, who played the first night as well, was filling in and did a fine job. Skilfully the Norwegians are building up their spacerock songs, jamming around the repeating grooves, that feel kind of retro. Today they are playing in the main hall, named the "Main Lab" for this festival, and although it's far from full, the people who are there can definitely appreciate the quartet's performance. That's not a bad start at all.



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In Zaire
Italian band In Zaire are playing the small hall, or "Observatory", that has gathered quite a nice crowd. Their psychedelic music features a percussive approach, with tribal elements and distinctive drums. The band is playing long jams, that sometimes can get a bit weary, but all together it is quite uplifting and exciting that should get many psych heads in the right mood.



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Kikagaku Moyo
The perfect psychedelic instrument is the sitar and Japanese formation Kikagaku Moyo have one. It is the main feature in their set and it is definitely working its magic. Together with the floating songs all the elements are there for a great trip. However the vocals aren't really strong, out of tune mostly, and the drums aren't really grooving. All combined it is an interesting performance, but one that needs some more work to really finish it off.



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Desert Mountain Tribe
Inspired by The Black Angels, this British combo started out playing together. The trio listened closely to their inspirers and gave it their own twist. It's more straightforward rock music and less use of drones like many bands do at this festival, although you can hear repeating grooves and lots of reverb. The vocals remind of The Cult's Ian Astbury sometimes but the music of course is different. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on.



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Mdou Moctar
All the way from Niger come Mdou Moctar, which you can tell by the way they are dressed. The trio is building on the same combination what made Bombino famous a few years ago, except Mdou Moctar is less bluesy. The uplifting African Touareg tunes may not seem really psychedelic compared to the mostly heavy drones you can hear throughout the day. But it definitely has repeating elements that can make you trip while you're dancing your head off. Some people are exactly doing that and I can definitely appreciate the African vibe. It could use a bit more variation though and a more convincing stage presence from the trio, who look a bit timid.



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Bed Rugs
Belgian psych rockers Bed Rugs have come a long way since I saw them play a few years back. I could definitely appreciate their light rock music with nice harmonies, but on stage they looked a bit static. The band has fixed this and now there's a convincing group playing. Their new album showcases the same growth and these new songs sound great. Hopefully they can keep progressing like this.



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TOY
I love the fist TOY album and was a bit disappointed by their second one. I still like their sound though and was really looking forward to this show. The sound is horrific though and most of the instruments can't be heard through the PA but seem to come directly from stage. Only the vocals are very clear on the PA which isn't nice. Especially since Tom Dougall isn't the greatest singer and his vocals are normally submerged in the wall of sound the band can pull up. Today however the balance is just completely wrong and the band are looking uninspired. Like most people we leave before the end of the show. This was very disappointing and I hope to see them again with good sound and also in a better mood.



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The Lucid Dream
British band The Lucid Dream appear to be young but have been around for a while. Their new album is getting good reviews and the band proves tonight that their fuzzed out noise songs are worth checking out. The singer adds a melodica at one point which is a nice touch. It adds a bit of subtlety to the loud, solid spaced out music of the band that is really convincing.



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Earth
The veterans of Earth are quite a legendary band and are one of the bands that have defined the drone metal sound. The slow heavy drones dredged in feedback are pounding away in the Main Lab. It is clear not everyone can appreciate the minimalistic music and unfortunately this includes me. I guess I just can't get into the right state of mind to fully appreciate the sluggish music.



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The Soft Moon
Anyone dozing off at this point is wide awake the moment The Soft Moon take off. Their industrial sounding music is ruthlessly bashing the crowd together with flashing strobes, firing up the the Main Lab. The mix of Nine Inch Nails and Joy Division isn't strictly psychedelic music, but it has enough elements for a wild trip. The band around Luis Vasquez is playing very tightly, with heavy grooves and screaming guitars and synths. This band can set any festival stage on fire and are definitely one of the highlights today.



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Black Bombaim
Portugese foursome Black Bombaim is something completely different. Heavy grooving straight from the seventies spiced up with a crazy saxophone. It's quite a jam they are putting down here and definitely worth checking out. Sometimes the saxophone is a bit too much for me, but these guys take seventies psychedelic music to another level.



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K-X-P
Among all the heavy guitars today Fins K-X-P take a different turn. The electronic synths and distorted guitars are combined with heavy beats played by two drummers. I'm not too fond of two drummers, since mostly it's just not necessary. I have my doubts about this setup as well, since it just doesn't seem to add anything. But the beats are tight and the Main Lab turns into a gloomy dance party with the hooded trio on stage and their dark but catchy electronic beats.



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zZz
Dutch organ rockers zZz are the one to send us home and you can leave it to them to do that on a high. The wild grooves and organ parts are firing up the people who decided to hang around this long and are starting a lively pit in front of the stage. Their music can't be better described than by the song 'XTC', which is a hypnotic jam of organ rock on speed, that sometimes even sounds like a more psychedelic spaced out modern version of The Doors. Twenty minute title track of the new record Juggernaut is "only" around 8 minutes long, but it leaves more room for other songs in the set which is great. In the end the duo play for an hour and are another highlight of the day, that ends in style.



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It is nice to see the Eindhoven Psych Lab are not too strict about defining the genre and are stretching the boundaries as well, leaving room for bands like Mdou Moctar. Of course they can rely on the experience of the Liverpool Psych Fest and are doing a fine job. With all the renewed interest in psychedelic music and the new bands spawning from this, hopefully this festival can grow into an established yearly event. And if they continue this way I will definitely be there to see that happen.

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