I thought I should attempt to write this while there were still shards of evidence left in my tiny mind and I do so with key components of my neck missing from serious head bangage.
There were some very heavy bands playing at this festival which was a pleasant surprise. Definitely at the heavy (metal) end of the psych spectrum. First of all apologies to the bands I didn't get to see but I have it on good authority that you all rocked!
If you were fortunate enough to go to the free pre-festival gig at Crofter's Rights on Friday then you would have seen Vinnum Sabbathi and Dr Chan, not to mention Captain Suun who are a really interesting band. I was really looking forward to seeing Dr Chan and they did not disappoint. If they come across on record as not giving a toss then live showed them to be a truly compelling band with some fantastic tunes and Viburnum Sathi were not far behind. They completely nailed it.
By this point I was already thinking, how can tomorrow be any better? Incredibly it was. You can spend all day wandering around festivals and only see a couple of bands you really like. At Bristol Psych Fest I would see someone play and having decided they were my new favourite band and I couldn't possibly see anyone better, I would promptly find myself listening to my new favourite band all over again.
The first full set I saw on Saturday was played by Yo No Se and it was pretty impressive and very doomy. Ridiculously tight with great changes within the tracks, hopefully there are plans afoot for an album? Totally heavy, six-legged groove machine. I also caught a chunk of Dead Coast and they sounded good. Nice and chilled with a surf-twang underpin.
Next up for me were Table Scraps and I have to admit to developing a major soft-spot for this band over the course of one set. I suppose they were more the kind of band I expected to see at the festival, this was cool as fuck scuzzed out garage rock and with lyrics like "I got a vampire motorcycle/I'm gonna ride it straight to hell", you will always have my vote. Actually, there is a lot more to them lyrically than just those kind of "dumb" stylings, lots of dark passions as well.
Then I went downstairs and had my third eye squeegeed by Hey Colossus who I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about. Lots of bodies on stage and if it's possible I would describe them as politely menacing. Very tight, very heavy and a front man with genuine presence and something to say. As you would hope for a band about ten albums in, they are seriously on it. They actually reminded me somewhat of Grinderman.
Essential band to go and see live and a tough act to follow. Swedish Death Candy played upstairs and they blew me away. Young guys with some serious chops and classic influences. Not afraid of a hook, the guitarist sings but the bassist almost acts as another frontman, abusing his instrument and himself in the process by the looks of it. They were totally into what they were doing and again, the kind of psych I expected to see. They finished with a 16 minute number that didn't bore me for one second. This is a band to watch out for and they have an album due out this year.
At this point I needed to calm down a bit so I spent some time listening to cool tunes in the garden. Thanks to the DJ. Next band I want to talk about are Kill West, hailing from Buenos Aires in Argentina. I was really excited about this band but I was starting to get worried that they wouldn't live up to what had come before and they were the last band to play upstairs. I needn't of worried. They completely destroyed it.
Essentially a giant bluesy riff machine, once they started it was just relentless riffage all the way home. They gave it everything and the crowd really responded to them.
That just leaves headliners Ron Gallo and ultimately The Gories to discuss. In many ways they were both very different from much of what had come earlier in proceedings. Ron Gallo is arch and literate. The music being a vehicle for the lyrics, as opposed to vocals being a part of the sound. He probably intimidates people in the kitchen at parties, you know? But he is backed by a punchy and raw rhythm section and in a live setting they take no prisoners. He is the real deal, no doubt. It is sort of hard to imagine an artiste like this coming out of the UK, I guess we're just not cool enough?
Thanks to Ron Gallo for coming over and likewise to Detroit legends The Gories! There is no other band like The Gories and probably never will be. In a way I find them quite hard to describe, I think the best I can come up with is rickety soul garage with, I think, an emphasis on the word soul? They are not trying to bludgeon anyone into liking them, it's a take it or leave it scenario and given the amount of people who worship this band it's easy to see they don't have to try very hard to convince people.
I have seen the coolest band in the world and I have Bristol Psych Fest to thank for that. Stolen Body Records and everyone involved in putting this day on deserve a huge amount of praise. The perfect antidote to summertime blues and cruel summers.