Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2017 Review

They said “This Festival Will Destroy You” and they weren’t lying. After a pummelling weekend at Camp and Furnace, Liverpool Psych Fest still proves to be the best weekend on the yearly calendar.

Walking into the grounds of Camp and Furnace, the air was set. It felt like that time of year and it was our favourite time of the year, time for Liverpool Psych Fest

Easily, this year’s festival is the most gorgeous we’ve seen. Visual director Sam Wiehl has crafted a beautiful world for us to explode freely. Sam‘s efforts partnered with the blistering bills by Bido Lito!‘s Craig G Pennington and Christopher Torpey and obviously Harvest Sun promoter Tom Lynch craft the weekend we love and are eternally grateful for.

The first act we caught on Friday evening was former-ish Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier’s Source Ensemble. Laetitia & co.’s warm vibrant sound simply took the room’s attention and showed off one of the festival’s least brash acts this year. Sadier‘s vocals are as gorgeous as they were with Stereolab and her solo work seemingly works as her substitutions to her lost band of yesteryear in Stereolab.

Following the calm, the storm broke loose. To start off the chaos were legendary noisemakers The Telescopes. Their set at the baby psych fest Manchester Psych Fest earlier this month went down like a pure storm and tonight was no different. 
They took the stage and simply commanded it instantly. Their vital and vicious sound showed the band will always be leaders of their team. They’re as dangerous now as they’ve ever been, even more now that they’ve returned on-peak. 

The Telescopes, photography by Mark Holmes.

Still in the Furnace stage, following the blasting noise gave us the band with the perfect descriptive name, Endless Boogie. Their stoner rock feel transformed between songs to something bigger than expected, it was almost mesmerising. 

PZYK Artwork by Alex Wynne, photography by Jack Birkett.

Shortly thereafter, on the Camp Stage were San Francisco‘s Male Gaze, a band we wish we would have caught onto sooner. This weirdo punk supergroup on the return from the successful run of their album King Leer, the band took a welcomed stop of at Psych Fest and they brought everything they had with them, exclaiming total energy throughout their whole set. Towards the end of there set they took a moment to say thanks to the bass player Mark who will be flying back off home after this show before breaking back into the song.*

We caught the New York rockers Dirty Fences next on the Camp Stage, backed with their raw garage rhythms that echo in the threads of fellow New Yorkers like The Ramones. While the band didn’t screech psychedelia, they definitely preached in the ways of rock n’ roll. 

The KVB, photography by Mark Holmes.

Camp Stage headliners The KVB walked up next, the duo hailing from London being their attacking electronics to PZYK. They’re a stunning, electric shoegaze-driven band that sound perfect and look even better with the Camp visuals all up. 

Songhoy Blues, photography by Mark Holmes.

Meanwhile on the headline stage, Mailian desert rockers Songhoy Blues are welcome warmly and generate a gorgeous performance. Their colourful ways simply paint the walls of Furnace and their sound, reminiscent of the likes of Tinariwen, is a benevolent, techinicolour end to the opening day’s main stage affairs. 

Saturday brought the house, indefinitely. The first thing noticed during the first day of this year’s festival was the possibility of low attendance, that could be due to timely events or the possible light bill and Friday headline. 

There’s something missing for us. The festival is far more destructive than it’s previous years, but we don’t think the bill is up to scratch. Not to say last year had more bands, maybe just better quality. 

Nonetheless, Saturday was packed. It was always going to be, later in the night we get a rare appointment by Austin‘s psych-heroes The Black Angels

Bold Street Coffee Tent, photography by Jack Birkett.

Late arrival cemented our fate on Saturday, walking into Camp to be met by possibly the best band of the weekend, Il Sogno Del Marinaio

The three-piece led by legendary punk Mike Watt simply tore through their set showing pure electric and flawless ability. It was their last number that told us exactly who they were, “We Come to Learn” saw the And explode with their harsh mixture of punk and free jazz stylings. 

White Manna returned to Psych Fest on the main Furnace stage, bringing their fuzzy epic performance to the table. The Californians divide their live sound between soothing rhythms to an-all-out explosive ambush of textured sounds. 

Jane Weaver, photography by Mark Holmes.

Perfectly shortly following was Jane Weaver, who brought her celestial psych-pop. Throughout the set, lights and visuals changed and portrayed all kinds of different shapes and colours that worked so well with her melodic voice. Weaver‘s forty-five minute set was packed full playing songs like “Ravenspoint” and ending perfectly with “Indeed a Connection“.

Next on were anticipated New Yorkers, A Place To Bury Strangers

A Place To Bury Strangers are known for their beautifully designed noisy tendencies and tonight was no different. Throbbing strobe lights, blistering uproar and a very strong band create a battlefield of sound. It’s a war they’re winning, arguably the fastest strobes we’ve ever seen and the band knew how to put pressure on our ears, and they did it so well. 

A Place To Bury Strangers, photography by Mark Holmes.

I knew audience members who walked away, citing defeat from the band’s onslaught with the likes of “Harp Song”, “You Are The One” and “I Lived My Life To Stand in The Shadow of Your Heart” making their stand. However, brilliantly, the band ended their crush with two standouts from their electronic efforts, which may have worked better earlier however didn’t shy away from showing us that this is a band that should be noticed far more often. 

W.I.T.C.H (We Intend To Cause Havoc) made their very welcomed entrance next. The highly influential Zimbabwe rockers arrived late but showed their prowess. 

The band led by Jagari Chanda dominated the charts in their hometown back in the ’70s and dominated the main stage of this year’s programme, showing their “zamrock” is a hard thing to kill. 

W.I.T.C.H (We Intend To Cause Havoc), photography by Mark Holmes.

Jagari and his collaborators (including Jacco Gardner) had their crowd dancing manically until the end. We’d have to say, while the first half of their set was an astounding showcase of nostalgia from far away, the final pieces running over-time showed annoyance among the increasing crowd. 

There’s no better headliner for Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia than The Black Angels

They’re a band that’s thought of so highly in the psych world for their work, and of course their hand-in creating Austin‘s holy-land of psych Levitation simply proves they’ve long been in-need to grace our Psych Fest

The band hits the stage and opens with “Currency” from their latest album before waltzing through an hour and a half of their transformative psych rock.  

The band controlled the stage in their way, their sublimity showcases a band on true form. 

The Black Angels, photography by Mark Holmes.

Bringing the best songs from their ever-evolving catalogue from “Bad Vibrations” to “Entrance Song“, the band purely evolved throughout their graceful set. Maybe, it’s the greatest headline set the festival has seen? We’re sure it’s the perfect band for one but nowhere near the best set of the festival. 

If you’re a fan of the Liverpool music scene then there is no doubt that you have seen Strange Collective at some point or another (or several times in our case). With being a last minute replacement (for dropouts Patten), the band seemed a bit rushed and disorientated but apart from a small mishap of the bass amp not working the show went off immensely.

The District crowd was ecstatic throughout the set, with everyone was dancing and having a great time. A highlight came when The Floormen‘s Buddy Keenan couldn’t help himself and danced his way on stage mid-set.

Strange Collective, Photography by Mark Holmes.

The best thing about Psych Fest is that some people will have travelled a fair distance to come here and the chance that they get to see some of the best local bands would be such a different and nice experience to be able to witness.*

  • Psych Fest 2017 MVP: The Telescopes

Words by Jack Cinnamond and *Jess Jayne Sharpe and photography by Mark Holmes and Jack Birkett

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