Sixties-loving New York label Rainbow Quartz dispatched a trio of its bands to Canada, and they amply demonstrated the label’s quality and diversity on a chilly February night, joined by a local off-label ringer.

First band of the night were the Orange Alabaster Mushroom. Originally a one-man operation by Canadian garage rocker Greg Watson (ex- Fiends, Knurlings, Buzzards, Desecrators, 14th Wray and so on), The OAM is now a five-man, hard-hitting psych-pop-garage combo, propelled throughout by a large and woolly drummer.

The group demonstrated their chops from the start to an appreciative audience with the appropriately titled 'We are the Orange Alabaster Mushroom'  right up to the finisher, the much-compiled 'Your Face is in My Mind”, a tune Watson originally played as a member of Kingston psychedelicists The 14th Wray.

New Jersey’s the Gripweeds were next up, demonstrating their love of the Beatles, the Who and Badfinger.

Kurt Reil demonstrated an impressive degree of skill on the drums while handling a great deal of the singing. Guitarist brother Rick and lead guitarist Kristin Pinell were excellent as well, and their new bassist more than managed to keep up. The title track of their last album, 'Summer of a 1,000 Years', was particularly fine.  Their harmonies didn’t sound quite as good on stage as on their records, but the band is still a must-see for fans of performers like Matthew Sweet and the Posies. 

Whereas the two previous bands favoured striped trousers, paisley and velvet, the Asteroid #4 have turned away from their psychedelic origins. Denim, a banjo, and pedal steel herald a switch to country rock. The change suits them well, and they went over very well with tracks from their upcoming album. They took time out between songs to joke about their wait at the border — “We got rid of all of our drugs, and we still had to wait five hours!” — and to complain about the U.S. administration and their go-along countrymen — “Not all Americans are stupid, just the eight billion who watched 'American Idol' "- before launching into protest song 'Have You Heard the News' ? from their upcoming album. Judging from what they played and the three-song CDR of demos they were handing out to people who purchased their other albums, it’s going to be a good one.

Headliners Outrageous Cherry played to a dwindling audience (it might have been my imagination, but I thought 'It’s So Nice to be Here'had a little extra bite).

Since Zaphod’s boots the bands off stage at 11 p.m. to accomodate nightclubbers, and the three other bands kicked things off at 8 p.m., they were left with little more than 30 minutes to show their incredible ability to turn a minimum of equipment into a psychedelic wig out.

Guitarists Matthew Smith and Larry Ray get by with 30-watt Vox and Ampeg amps that many bands today would find too small to even practice on, and a wah-wah pedal for Smith (plus a healthy dose of reverb from the soundboard). Drummer Deb Agolli makes Moe Tucker look like Keith Moon; no hi-hat, bass drum or cymbals; just a snare and floor tom to keep a steady march. (I believe that was old bassist Chad Gilchrist replacing Aran Ruth, who anchored the low end on the Cherry’s last two albums.) The band mostly played songs from their last album, 'The Book of Spectral Projections', including the title track and threw in the title track from their next album, 'Supernatural Equinox.'

Apart from the great music, there was also the visual effect of a possessed Larry Ray (who looks like the world’s seediest garage mechanic) twitching and circling not quite in time, and effect enhanced by the slowly growing number of broken strings dangling from his guitar as the set progressed. (Smith’s uncanny resemblance to Bonzo Dog Vivian Stanshall probably helped as well.)

At 11:05 the soundman’s leaden command '"Last song” came through the monitors, and the band tore into 'The Astral Transit Authority'. By the time is was over, Ray was down to three strings and what remained of the audience had their minds well-expanded.













Related Links:



Commenting On: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa, 27/2/2003 - Night of Modern Psychedelia








ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment
 


First Previous Next Last