Monday, May 7, 2012

Church Gets Psychedelic

Hopefully, you are a religious fundamentalist that has stumble upon this review because of the title. Well, there's no reason to get upset (I know how easy it is to set you fundies off). The title is simply a reference to the incredible lineup of psychedelic rock that I witnessed on April 12th at Church. The semi-religiously monikered The New Highway Hymnal kicked off the night followed by hypnotic space rockers White Hills and the intoxicating retro rock of Sleepy Sun. It was a fantastically blasphemous night of repenting, PBR in hand, while enjoying a sermon that included deafening recitations from the gospel of rock 'n' roll.

I have been meaning to catch a show by local psych rockers The New Highway Hymnal. It's becoming increasingly commonplace to hear their name whispered among groups of people huddled in dusty basements discussing the best new Boston bands. After their set at Church, I can completely understand why and I'm sure I will now be one of those people. They brought a youthful energy to the stage that did not let up their entire set. "Blackened Hands" had a wonderfully sleazy groove that welcomed comparisons to The Black Angels. The song that stood out the most was "Factory Song" and it's lyric of "I work in a factory / We keep the killing quiet." It was haunting and arresting. The singer came out into the audience for the end of the set while the guitarist tested the durability strings with a drumstick channeling Thurston Moore. Before long, everything deconstructed into madness and instruments were being thrown about the stage. Perfect way to start a show off.

White Hills took the stage next looking like tried and true rock stars: Frontman Dave W. was sporting long hair, eyeliner, and leather pants while bassist Ego Sensation was quite a sight in her sexy red velvet outfit. They played a set mostly culled from their recent release, Frying on This Rock and last year's H-p1. Along with drummer Nick Name, the trio created monolithic jams of hallucinogenic emissions and pulsing krautrock. It was impossible not to get lost in the swirls of sonic ecstasy and the strobe lights added to the effect, making it seem like you were getting high just watching them. Dave W. proved himself to be one of the more mesmerizing guitarists I have ever seen, erecting walls of frenzied wah eruptions. After a performance like that, I'm moving their name into the "must-see" column.

Sleepy Sun were headlining the night hot off their new album Spine Hits. The band played a chill set that gave the impression these musicians probably spent a lot of time in a smokey room listening to Led Zeppelin and The Velvet Underground. Much has been said about the departure of vocalist Rachel Fannan but singer Bret Constantino was fine carrying these tunes on his own. He stood in front of a table of toys, manipulating his vocals with different pedals and adding little flourishes with maracas and a harmonica. The five piece had a tight sound and utilized diverse instrumentation. They switched instruments from time to time and even employed some well executed dual percussion. I've heard a few old fans complain about the sound on the new album being "too accessible". After seeing them perform songs like "V.O.G." and "Yellow End", I'm confident in saying that Spine Hits contains some of their best material. Unfortunately, the set was cut short due to a midnight curfew. I wanted more but that didn't make the night any less satisfying.

Foundwaves recently posted great photo sets from the show of White Hills and Sleepy Sun.

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