Last Wednesday, I went to see a show featuring psychedelic rock known for its ability to set the scene. Cervantes' Other Side hosted four bands with music so atmospheric at times I felt like I was on the set a movie rather than the heart of Five Points. The venue itself was a good setting on its own, but coupled with these bands' western rock style it gave the place a new aura entirely. For those in the know, it was a night of rock that inspired the imagination by taking the audience on a journey through psychedelic sound.
The journey began when Salt Lake City band Dark Seas took the stage. Dark Seas performed as a five-piece band; Kyle Wilcox on vocals, Diego Mijares on guitar, Rhett Hansen on drums, Irvin Martinez on bass, and a fifth touring member who also played guitar. They got the night started with their blend of western/surf rock injected with psychedelia, as if the band too much time soaking in the mystique of the Utah badlands. Dressed in a trench coat and hat, lead singer Kyle Wilcox delivered dark-tinged vocals in a scruffy, low register over the mid-tempo cymbal heavy rhythms and twangy guitars that made-up the band's instrumental footprint, almost giving the band the feel of twisted psychedelic blues. They did well to start the show and introduce the crowd to the psych-rock sound. They are worth checking out and will have an EP released soon.
|Max Pain & The Groovies|
Next up was fellow Salt Lake City psych-rockers Max Pain & The Groovies. Max Pain & The Groovies also used a five member setup; David on vocals, Jake on bass, Dallin on guitar, Shane on guitar, and Tcoy on drums. This experimental group took the spirit of rock 'n' roll and put it in the oven, regularly basting that sound with juices of near sludge-like psychedelic rock. The vocals were delivered with a careful balance of force and dark mood that gave the music a garage rock feel with a more trippy and spaced out attitude. The end product was psychedelia with a kick - music that will daze you as much as it will get you dancing. Their live set craftily increased its intensity until it peaked with full rock force at the end. This band is indeed groovy, but with an added layer of punkish awesome.
|Colfax Speed Queen|
Local heroes Colfax Speed Queen went up on stage next. This four-piece band had Rob Halgren on keyboard, Matt Loui on vocals/guitar, Reed McKinny on drums and Gabriel Tafoya on bass. Together, this band created good ol' fashioned garage rock 'n' roll with impeccable authenticity. The bass, guitar and drum combo have the vintage feel of sixties punk garage while the addition of keyboard adds an extra layer to the sound. The organ tone of the keyboard adds the element of quirky psychedelia to the sound, setting the overall sound apart from just straight garage rock.
|Colfax Speed Queen|
Colfax Speed Queen's stage presence is centered around lead singer Matt Loui. He doesn't just stand up on stage and spit out vocals as he plays guitar - the music exudes from his pores as he moves about the stage like a true rock star. That energy transfers to the rest of the band and in turn, to the crowd, enhancing the live experience. "In Your Blood" and "My Nemesis Me" stood out, as those songs' uptempo pace and psychedelic keyboard created a very poignant yet atmospheric sound. "Fiends In The Night" was my favorite song of the set - short but intense with a catchy riff that grabs a hold of the listener and never lets go. Fans of rock 'n' roll should not hesitate to check out a Colfax Speed Queen show - they will bring it.
Finally it was time for the main attraction on this psychedelic musical ride - Spindrift. Spindrift also performed as a five-piece; Kirpatrick Thomas on guitar/vocals, Henry Evans on bass/baritone guitar, James Acton on drums/autoharp, Sasha Vallely on keyboards/vocals/flute, and Lucas Dawson on pedal steel/guitar. Those were the musical ingredients they needed to produce their psychedelic spaghetti western sound.
Kirkpatrick Thomas guitar had that familiar western twang, and he was no slouch on the fret board when it came to faster paced songs. He also sang in an impressive falsetto voice at times. Henry Evans had a double-necked guitar, switching from baritone guitar or bass depending on the situation. James Acton mostly held down a steady rhythm with the drum set, but added atmosphere on occasion with the autoharp. Sasha Valley's keyboard work added a deeper psychedelic layer to the sound, her vocals added a seductive element to the music, and her flute work definitely seemed surreal every time it emerged. Lucas Dawson was great on guitar, but was most impressive on the pedal steel, making some of the most psychedelic sounds I've ever heard created in a live environment.
Spindrift played an exhilarating set that transformed the Cervantes' Other Side venue into a place in the wild west. Their whole set was wrapped around the psychedelic aspect of their music, and they used that mood to drive both fast and slow paced western style songs. From the very first song that included the "Japexico" flute intro, they had grasped a hold of the crowd. They played on a dimly lit stage with a projection screen behind them. The projection screen added more out-of-this world ambiance to the performance with its vivid trance-inducing colors, and the stage production was enhanced by green slow moving laser lights that speckled the band like stars.
Songs like "Hellbound" and "Theme From Ghost Patrol" instantly evoked the feeling of the wild west. As the songs were performed I half expected cowboys to burst into the room with six-shooters out of their holsters. As much as I loved the fast paced country-western style songs, my favorite had to be when they performed the succession of songs; "Speak To The Wind", "Space Vixens" and the epic "Theme From Drifter's Pass". For these songs, the psychedelia was turned to the absolute maximum - slow and entrancing but captivating with an immense forceful feeling. "Theme From Drifter's Pass" was ten minutes of sheer psych-rock bliss. "Indian Run" was incredible with the added instrumental breakdown, including a blistering guitar solo from Kirkpatrick Thomas. "Showdown" was the perfect way to end the set, sending off the crowd to music as if there had just been a standoff between a hero and villain - without a glittery happy ending of course.
Spindrift was an amazing experience. It may not be music that frequents my rotation, and it may not be music that typically gets a lot of attention, especially since it usually finds its place in the background of films, but seeing it performed live was a wondrous experience in itself. It turned out there is a lot of talent involved in creating this particular sound, and once you see it live, its hard not to get caught up in the moment. If you are a fan of psych-rock, Spindrift is the real deal.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page to stay up to date.