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Liverpool Psych Fest 2014: Saturday

28 September 2014, 13:01 | Written by Peter Wise

The Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia is a fantastic anomaly; a familial, perfectly formed riot of technicolour culture right in the heart of the city’s partially dilapidated docklands. Outside the hulking industrial facade of the Camp and Furnace, Far Eastern music floods a tent hung with richly hued fabrics, and the smell of shisha smoke hangs sweet in the air. Upstairs a pyramid of flickering cathode ray tube TVs irradiate strange, colourful patterns, whilst down on the Camp stage Mazes are taking their line check.

Mazes’ performance makes for an encouraging start to the day; their crisp, precise playing providing an excellent foil to some of the murkier, sludgier sounds on the line-up. A sweet, major tonality prevails throughout, whilst whimsical lyrics – “I could build a boat, sail around the moat” - build on this sunny musical disposition to create some real moments of idyll. Meanwhile, Traams kick up a kraut-punk racket in the cavernous Furnace room, hurtling through verses marked by bullish bass and sparing lead guitar to all-out garage thrash - bracing early afternoon listening.

Next up on the Camp stage, the hyperactive, capricious Islet, are performing with Melt Yourself Down levels of energy. Infectious interplay between drums and percussion, reverberant synths, animalistic vocal sounds and sensational guitar tone that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Three Trapped Tigers record all conspire to make this band a rewarding listen. By the end of the set we’ve seen them flit from genre to genre, suggesting a host of influences ranging from Los Campesinos! to The Mars Volta. At times there’s just a little too much going on, but as the set reaches its zenith with a superb, chilling vocal break - the two singers howling in perfect discord like some sci-fi ghoul - their accomplishment is beyond doubt.

Moodoïd take things down a few notches; layering slow and luxuriant, elephantine classic rock melodies over chugging alt-rock guitar. Their set reveals flashes of inspiration; soaring glam vocals and doom-disco grooves tempt to proclaim them the Bee Gees of contemporary psychedelia. Bedecked in glittering metalics, Moodoïd are an arresting oddity, albeit held back by a proclivity for incongruously hard rock tones. Multi-instrumentalist duo The Grumbling Fur are altogether more sober, but every inch as abstracted from the ordinary. The set wanders through a haze of fuzz and reverb, with dual vocals to the fore, almost monastic in quality.

Glimpsed through a crush of bobbing heads in the cosy Blade Factory room, Irish outfit September Girls brilliantly combine retro rhythms and synth sounds with a classic goth-pop ear for harmony. It’s a welcome diversion in genre; we only wish we could’ve found a better vantage.

As the night hurtles towards its climax, Furnace steadily fills to bursting point as punters jostle and squeeze their way through the old warehouse’s great wooden doors. You can hardly blame them; tonight’s headliners are a true phenomenon. Pitching instantly memorable, primary-coloured vocals over a squall of funk-laced psych-rock, Goat sound every inch the new high priests of psych. Their dual vocalists career around the stage in glittering headdresses and flowing smocks, moving like Chinese dragons as they raise their voices to crescendos of pure energy. With its unmistakable ‘naaa naa na na-na na’ refrain, ‘Goatman’ provides the highlight of the set - an electric, uniting moment to mark the culmination of a truly extraordinary festival.

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