There’s a danger that bands playing psychedelic, introspective music that focuses so heavily on externalising inner space lose track of their audience. It’s something the Brian Jonestown Massacre are always in danger of, something that Sonic Boom/Spectrum can be guilty of, and something My Bloody Valentine stay (just) the right side of.
For me, listening to music at home, or through headphones on the way home from work is a very different experience than seeing a gig live. Rocking out on my own, or in my own space can be a solitary, meditative thing – akin to experiencing a novel. Heading out to a gig (again apart from the social aspect of seeing friends and people-watching) is less about contemplation, about decyphering the secrets of the cosmos than it is about being transported to another place, dancing around like a loon and having a bloody good time.
The Asteroid #4 and The Quarter After at The Dream Machine gig at Herne Hill’s Half Moon was the archetype of everything a cracking night out should be about; it had a great, friendly crowd, a landlord that wasn’t hung-up about curfews, and, most importantly, two bands that were focussed on producing a crowd-pleasing show.
The two bands have been touring together around the UK and Europe for a couple of weeks and this was their first London show since Psychodahlia at The Fly. First up were the QA who brought their Byrds/Springfield/Sabbath-influenced jangle pop to South London for the first time. Led by the Jonestown’s Rob Campanella, the band were noticeably enjoying themselves (even Campanella who normally looks a slightly concerned/panicked figure onstage with Newcombe’s gang looked happy to be kicking back). Hell, Christoph, the bands third guitarist/keyboard player looked like he’d stepped right out of the Rolling Thunder Revue with his sideburns and lace-up jeans. Yes, you read that right – lace-up jeans. Closing their set with the majestic Too Much To Think About, the Quarter After brought smiles aplenty to this part of London.
Tonight was all about the Asteroid #4, however.Touring to promote their blinding new album ‘These Flowers of Ours’, it took them a couple of songs to hit their stride, but once they got going, they moved the evening from a gig…to a happening, man. For me, they a shining example of everything a neo-psychedelic band should be – they’ve cherry picked some of the best sounds from the 60s and the Paisley Underground and fused them with a post Spacemen/Spiritualized drone. Crucually, they never lose sight of the fact its all about putting on a show; they’ve got the rockstar attitude (swigging from bottles of wine on stage), the mind melting lightshow but they clearly give a fuck about the crowd having a cracking time (like various audience members being dragged up on stage to play percussion. You know who you are).
Highlights all seemed to blur into one for me, but standout tracks were Ask Me About Pittsburgh and a Rain Parade cover (I Look Around – I got a little bit overexcited by that one!) Hell, even the Quarter After were into it (even after a few weeks of touring together). Special mention must go to QA singer Dominic Campanella’s inspired dancefloor moves. Oh yes.
In short, tonight was a celebration – not only of the Dulwich Dream Machine record shop and all who sail in her, not just for Masonic Boom and her artwork (it was the opening of her show tonight), but of just how much fun the nu-gaze, post-Jonestown, neo-psych..whatever..’scene’ can actually be. <a href="http://urbanlandfill.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?