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Review Mon Jan 14 2013

Review: Chicago Psych Fest IV (Saturday)

"There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play..."

--"See Emily Play," Pink Floyd (1967)

Billed as a night "Into the 4th Dimension" to mark the homespun fest's fourth year, night two of the Chicago Psych Fest boasted an eclectic mix of artists each staking out claims in their own corners of the city's flourishing psych scene. While headliners Outer Minds may have been the biggest draw to look at Saturday night's lineup, Pysch Fest, carefully curated in all aspects from artist selection to venue choice (at the "perfect place for a freak-out" in The Hideout) to poster design, remains mainly a gathering of the tribes, where psych-freaks young and old assemble in celebration of some wonderfully weird music.

Saturday night built off Friday night's sets by Plastic Crimewave Syndicate and Energy Gown, continuing the mesmerizing mid-set video displays programmed live by artists Nick Barner and Nick Ciontea. DJs Psychedalex and Psyche Prissy Pie played tons of deep cuts, but made sure to phone in some old favorites for the crowd (with the most enthusiastic response given to the Pink Floyd classic "See Emily Play"). The merch booth, meanwhile, was flush with psychedelic swag, ranging from new vinyl releases from the night's acts to back issues of lauded psych zine Ugly Things, and even had event posters printed onto discarded discs of vinyl. Bending time and space even further, select band and audience members even dressed in full-on Haight-Ashbury garb, boasting fringe jackets, beads, and some very inspired facial hair. For some, it could have been mid-summer in 1967 as much as a cold night in early 2013.

Bitchin Bajas started the night with some scaled-back kraut drones, with a leading saxophone that offered some free-jazz freakiness behind the band's steady motorik grooves and burbling keyboards. Incidentally, the Bajas are also in the midst of a January residency at the Hideout, and their set in the middle of the dance floor clearly reflected their comfort within the venue's wood-paneled confines.

Scheduled next was Underground Symposium, but the band had to drop out due to sickness. Miracle Condition wandered onto the stage instead, slowly building walls of seriously noise with all of two guitars and a drum kit. At times echoing the freeform styles and textures of German kosmiche musik and others sounding like a sleepier version of Polvo in their '90s prime, the band kicked out proggy melodic jogs and turn-on-a-dime dynamic shifts that had the audience zoning out to their handful of extended jams. Aided by the dazzling video displays behind them, Miracle Condition clocked in a stunningly loud set, leaving the near-frozen crowd in a blissed-out stupor.

Next was the Velcro Lewis Group, who aimed to kicked up a fuss with their funkier brand of vintage psych, giving enough hollerin' and high-octane shrieks to make Sly Stone blush. Aided by Hideout lifer/veteran musician Lawrence Peters on the washboard, the group was a wave of psychedelic funk (and fashion, courtesy of some incredible Summer-of-Love-era fringe jackets and tunics). As might be expected, the Velcro Lewis set had the whole place cutting a rug like no one else all weekend.

Outer Minds was last, bashing out a punctuated but furious-as-ever set like clockwork, running through their own nether-world hits like "My Bloodshot Eyes" and "Always in My Head." Visuals shimmered on the front row of the crowd and against the white cloth backdrop behind the Hideout stage, leaving one audience member to note that "it feels like we've stumbled into the wrong side of Narnia" in the middle of one of the groups catchy-as-hell choruses. The band was in fine form, and though they lacked the kind of raw, nervous energy of their release show back at the Empty Bottle last month, they certainly brought the heaviest vibes all weekend and proved themselves a perfectly fitting closer to a movin', groovin' and all-around happenin' fest.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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