Review: Psych Fest

White Manna, Liverpool Psych Fest

Last weekend M travelled north to witness the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia deliver an unforgettable 48 hours of aural over-indulgence and cosmic celebration.

Over the space of the weekend, a seemingly disparate glut of psych bands, which have randomly popped up across festival line-ups this summer, came together for a carnival of celestial sounds.

Fuzzed out garage-rock, swirling reverb and ritualistic rhythms from the likes of Mugstar, The KVB, Fuzz, Warm Digits, White Manna (pictured above) and Psychic Ills echoed round Camp & Furnace and The Blade Factory, an interconnected series of warehouses and workshops that once stood at the heart of Liverpool’s industrial district.

Carlton Melton, Psych Fest

Carlton Melton

Droves of fans blended seamlessly with the army of bands that had descended on the festival from as far and wide as Chile, the US and Denmark, culminating in what felt like a definitive moment in a resurgent movement.

Scene stalwarts Clinic and Moon Duo were on hand to deliver career-defining headline sets while thunderous Leeds five-piece Hookworms affirmed their status as one of the UK’s most innovative bands around. They pulled in a huge crowd for their late-night chaos, unleashing repetitious reverb-laden guitar patterns against an enveloping backdrop of analogue drones.

The organisers made sure that smaller acts were also given room to shine, offering festival-goers a full spectrum of retro-inspired and futuristic psychedelia. Particular stand-outs were the stoner rock of Carlton Melton, the new-wave inspired synth lines of The KVB and the loose Madlib-esque hip-hop of Mo Kolours.

The Holydrug Couple, Psych Fest

The Holydrug Couple

Elsewhere, London art duo Heretic hosted a vertigo-inducing audio/visual installation with Sonic Boom while the non-music programme included a series of short films curated by Shindig! Magazine. There was also a lightshow by Innerstrings, talks from University of Greenwich psychology lecturer David Luke covering psychedelic sound and perception and an opening night show of The Portal, Julian Hand’s current visual accompaniment to The Oscillation‘s show, which included glass slides, coloured inks, oils and ‘household chemicals’.

Over the coming days we’ll be posting interviews and performances with some of the turns that caught our eye, including The KVB, Mo Kolours, Hookworms and Sonic Boom, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled.

Check out our Psych Fest playlist here.