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In Review: Psych Night Daylight at Mercury Live

A unique blend of psych bands unite for a worthy cause.

19 Jun 2017 / Opinion / written by Stian Maritz / Pics by Laura McCullagh

Last Thursday’s Psych Night: Daylight had a specific goal in mind. It’s a fundraising effort to contribute to Dangerfields frontman Lucas Swart’s medical bills and there’s a clear atmosphere of solidarity, one that always makes for special performances. As for the bands, they cover a lot of sonic territory between them.

The evening starts with Lucy Kruger and the Lost Boys. In this case, Andre Leo joins her but plays more of a supporting role than in their duo, Medicine Boy. Kruger forges a quiet lead with cavernous vinyl-like vocals while Leo stays seated left of stage behind a giant board of pedals, conjuring waves of echoes and reverb. A composed set follows, tinged with their signature blend or artful mourning. It’s impossibly composed and beautiful as only they can be.

Hezron Chetty, a remarkable violinist with the heart of a rock ‘n’ roller, follows. With the help of a loop station he provides an enthralling set. The folky noise of a plucked violin and the classical sound of a rosin-soaked bow are executed vigorously and perhaps that could have been enough for some. In Chetty’s case the rock element rears its rebellious head in remarkably suitable distorted violin passages and his choice of notes too for something entirely different. He prowls the stage in his dapper suit and plays his heart out to a captive audience.

The Psalms follow with a baffling array of psychedelic noise. One sampled beat plays for close to half an hour as random guitar noise, shakers and spoken word come and go with no sense of contrast or narrative. It was a difficult performance for me to really sink my teeth into and  zoned out after 20 minutes of that same beat’s repetition.

We return from a bar run for the start of Bilderberg Motel. They may have psych elements but their overall vibe is straight up ‘60s. Guitars jangle pleasantly with only a few swathes of reverb for decoration that along with their feel-good songwriting gets the crowd back in motion. A touch of surf adds a welcome twist, as does their unique dark vocal tone. It’s instantly recognizable easy listening.

Psych Night opens doors for remarkably unique acts and the 38s are a prime example. It’s energetic instrumental surf rock that manages to hold our attention throughout thanks to their exuberant stage presence and creativity with the genre. An abundance of catchy lead guitar lines offset the chord work in lieu of vocals to the point that you actually don’t even miss it. It’s the wildest act of the night.

The evening ends with an unorthodox twist in the form of Medicine Boy’s DJ set. Seeing the city’s most mystical dark duo dancing on stage to disco lighting is quite a change from their usual presentation, but of course it’s a welcome excuse to keep dancing. The early morning hours pass quickly after that.

The variety of acts is always a strong point for Psych Night events and this evening followed suit. As the crowd floods to Shack, another time-honoured tradition, we take comfort in knowing that we’ve seen remarkable bands and supported a good cause in the process.

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Check out our exclusive gallery from this event.