As we drove away from our loyal campsite and back onto the cross-state highway, my last glimpse of the Gorge reminded me of Sasquatch’s isolation. Surrounded by the Columbia River, amongst wine fields and thousands of untapped acres, exists an annual festival bringing together music fans of all walks of life.

From the endless Canadians taking the weekend off to head south, to the Midwesterners travelling multiple states only to reach the nearest major summer festival, to the local Washingtonians road tripping to the other side of the mountains in their Subaru Outbacks, the long journey creates an atmosphere of collective celebration.

Since 2011 represents my first (and hopefully not last) year as a member of the press for Sasquatch, my experience naturally differed from years in the past. Re-entry, free snacks and Red Bull, no lines, and the opportunity to mull around in the photo pit for the first three songs of most acts, all culminated in a strong feeling of gratitude for such an amazing privilege.

Most of the journalists and photographers seemed to have business on their minds, thinking only about how to capture every little incident just right, so that maybe they could have something to attach to their portfolio to help snag the next gig on the ladder to Rolling Stone. But Matt (friend, photographer) and I saw things differently; we approached Sasquatch the way it deserved: as fans.

Not much could have been altered to make me more content with my Sasquatch adventure ” and that’s the sign of a festival that is doing something right. The lineup is not composed of aging rock stars and Teen Choice Awards winners. Instead, Sasquatch boasts local artists, cult legends from the 90’s, and groups worth a listen because of their music, not their publicists.

When I break down my favourite acts of the weekend, they all fit within the latter category, probably the highlight of the entire festival, put on a performance I won’t forget next time they swing through town. Washed Out, Gold Panda, and Flying Lotus all put on inspiring shows in the dance tent, formally known as the Banana Shack. And Aloe Blacc, along with Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, whipped out high energy, attention-commanding old-school soul revues. If any of those names are new to you, I highly recommend you give them a listen” or better yet, attend one of their shows.

Oddest of all, the three groups that I felt left the most to be desired had the fest’s most fervent fans. Hundreds of cars made the trek to the Gorge only to witness Sasquatch’s closing-night headliner, Wilco, and when Jeff Tweedy took the stage, all the fans looked like the kids from Jesus Camp. Same with Trailer Park Boys ” the crowd was yelling in adoration so loudly that all the members’ banter was nearly inaudible. And Guided by Voices came off poorly from up on the nearly empty hill overlooking the main stage, but apparently were amazing when wedged between the diehards in the pit.

But those three just go to show the inherent subjectivity of music. And really, three unexceptional performances out of the roughly one hundred or so that I could choose between are not bad odds.

Sasquatch offers such a diverse selection of talent in the unrivaled king of festival venues, that I cannot imagine any attendees walking away unsatisfied. I caught more than a handful of memorable shows, spent solid time with good company, and got a tank-top sunburn in the process; all of which are must-haves at any festival worth its salt” and I fully expect all the same next year.

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

Bestselling artist and Montreal-native Sam Roberts was kind enough to agree to an in-person interview before putting on a commanding performance in support of his group’s newest album, Collider, for thousands of singing-along fans at Sasquatch.

Just a couple hours before his show, I made contact with his manager who then invited us to come on the tour bus.

Sam arrived fresh off complimentary lunch and was instantly accommodating. With his welcoming style, the interview felt surprisingly informal, just a conversation. In fact, we ended up speaking for much longer off the record than on, but this is what he had to say about performing at Sasquatch:

So what are your thoughts on Sasquatch so far?
The first thing you notice, when you put aside all the similarities to other festivals, is that not every festival takes place in somewhere like the Gorge. The natural aspect is always present, you’re always conscious of the scenery. Which is unique, because a lot of festivals are closed off and become their own universe. But here, there’s this constant reminder that there’s a world going on outside of Sasquatch. I like that.

When did you arrive?
Just an hour ago—while, at least I woke up an hour ago. I’m not sure when we got in, but we played in Vancouver last night. We crossed the border at four in the morning. Wake up, throw some clothes on, grab a bite to eat, take a shower, and maybe get a couple beers in the system: you’re ready to go on stage.

So are you going to get a chance to catch some artists and actually enjoy the festival?
I think so, we have a pretty relaxed schedule here. I’m going to go check out Wheedle’s Groove. A band like Beach House, it would be great to see them, but they’re playing at the same time as us. So that’s the problem, there are all these scheduling conflicts. You look at the lineup and then you’re like [sigh], we’re playing at the same time as these guys. It’s not your own show; you’re never in charge of what happens. You’re just a guest. You have to make sure to soak it in and make you have your own experience beyond your own show.

Since you just got in, maybe you haven’t noticed the Canadian influence yet.
Which is always a good thing, the more Canadians the better.

Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of Canadian flags, especially a lot of Canucks flags. Any thoughts on playing as a Canadian artist for such a Canadian crowd?
I think in this part of the U.S. anyway, that’s a pretty logical step. You’ve got all these people from Calgary and out west that have access to this place. It’s a reasonable trip, and when you talk about the landscape out here, its very unique.  I think it’s definitely something that appeals to Canadians. I’m glad to know that they’re starting to trickle down and boost their numbers. Obviously, it’s nice to have a lot of hometown support.

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

I stepped outside of my tent and instantly noticed how many cars had disappeared from the campgrounds.

People traveled from far and wide to attend Sasquatch, so it seemed as though everyone need a day to return to work on Tuesday, and with the exception of the select group of Wilco fans, every stage was fairly barren and open to easy front row access.

Dressed in suits and tuxes, Noah and the Whale came out with a set up equally polished with their well-orchestrated mournful and occasionally inspirational pop tunes. The first time I saw them live a few years ago, the lead singer had apparently just gone through a break-up and their set was a bit of a depressed mess, but in a way, that’s what made them relatable. Now, looking confident and put together, Noah and the Whale lost a bit of their charm, but still surpassed many expectations and presented a lovely set.

Next came beloved Montreal-natives Chromeo on the main stage. As always, Dave-1 and P-Thugg put on the show their fans have come to expect—cocky, smooth, and ironically cheesy. Even though it was the third time I’d caught them live since August, their lovability has far from deteriorated.

90’s four-track, lo-fi college rock kings Guided by Voices took the stage after Chromeo for one of the smallest crowds I observed all weekend at the main stage.

From a distance, the lack of support was a bit understandable; their music didn’t come off well in a large open space like the Gorge and the instrumentation felt dated. But from the pit, hardcore fans joined together, sang along, and helped make Guided by Voices feel at home.

After, Bonobo treated the Banana shack to a DJ set of obscure tracks and mash-ups, coming across as one of the most accessible dance artists of the weekend.

Then, at 7:30, !!! (also known as chk chk chk) brought forth the best set of the day and maybe of the weekend. Somewhat akin to LCD Soundsystem if James Murphy was replaced by a flamboyant karaoke singer at a gay bar, !!!’s lead singer, Nic Offer stormed out with most likely coke-induced energy.

“Don’t kick the photographers out of the pit after our first three songs, let them stay in the whole time…. I have a few surprises for them.” With those words, I became painfully aware of the absence of my photographer attending Best Coast instead.

Offer walked through the crowd, tried on audience members’ accessories, posed for photos, and basically cage-danced on the P.A.’s. But in the end, it was the flawless disco/electronic music that held the performance together.

Everything after felt like a bit of a disappointment, especially Wilco, strumming through some even more mellowed out versions of their songs, commenting on how the last time they played at the Gorge was their worst show ever…

But Major Lazer gave what can be best described as a frenzied, womanizing, lawless two-encore performance of crowd-surfing, daggering, and cloth-fucking.

Mental note: if given the choice between a legendary group’s acoustic jam set or Major Lazer—choose Major Lazer.

And with that, comes the conclusion of Sasquatch 2011. Within the next week I’ll have a full overview sorting out my thoughts, observations, and highlights on my first major festival of the year.

Chk Chk Chk Playlist by ChkChkChk

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

*** Editors note: that guy, standing (yes you know the one I’m talking about) is not in a band, but is seriously awesome.

For the Sasquatch crowd, Sunday was all about the drugs.

All throughout the day, murmurs about trips could be heard, usually along the lines of, “Are you feeling it, man?”
“Ohh yeeaaahh, I’m feeling it.”

The lack of sobriety and continued Canadian pride set the stage for an odd vibe, which was most clear during Montreal native Sam Roberts‘ midday set. In the breaks between his hard rocking, yet still very sing-a-longy songs, more chants of “CA-NA-DA” could be heard.

It was a great set that due to the heavy Canadian influence in the crowd and the seemingly ideal festival music coming from Sam Roberts felt like a microcosm of Sasquatch 2011.

I spoke with Sam in his tour bus before the set, and I’ll have a full article covering the interview posted within the next day or two.

A memorable early performance was that of S. Carey, known as one of the “other guys” in Bon Iver. His atmospheric, introspective sounds a la Sigur Ros created contemplative layers under the inconsistent weather, which swayed from scolding hot to steady rain. A highlight was a tribute to the classic David Lynch sitcom, “Twin Peaks” (filmed in Washington), with the band strumming through the theme during a short break before their last song.

The energy grew as the day went on, especially notable during the surprisingly well-received set of the dirty south soul group Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, based out of Texas.

After showing up over twenty minutes late, they gutted through track after track of dirty soul, becoming progressively more intense as they went on. The entire crowd was dancing and the set peaked with a raucous cover of Louie, Louie and an unforeseen toilet paper extravaganza.

From out of nowhere came an unrelenting assault of toilet paper rolls thrown straight into the air—literally dozens and dozens were tossed over and over again. The audience was covered and eventually the stage as well, but Black Joe only played off it the excitement with more energy.

It was difficult for any artist to match that, but a couple hours later I found myself enjoying the impressive DJ work of Gold Panda. He worked the table and did not settle for any easy drops. His layered beats officially converted me as a fan.

But in terms of fan-hood, there was only one artist on my mind: Flying Lotus. One of my absolute favorite musicians, his set marked the third time I’d seen him in less than a year, and as always, he was amazing.

Mixing up his lineup, he focused mostly on hip-hop, giving the audience a spin of Tyler, the Creator’s, Yonkers, generating a full-on dance party.

Flying Lotus by Audio McSwagger

Meanwhile on the mainstage, the Flaming Lips played through their classic album, the Soft Bulletin. Due to the Flying Lotus conflict, I was forced to miss them, but my photographer made sure to attend and catch some photos.

But in the end, every Sasquatch attendee joined together to watch the late night entertainment from Ratatat.

After a slow start, they eventually started to get going, running through many of their most popular tracks. Better than the music, though, were the absorbing visuals. Honestly too difficult to describe, the video screens sent the already tripping audience to new depths.

Next is Monday, with Wilco, !!!, Guided by Voices, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

Upon arrival, the first thing that caught our eyes at Sasquatch 2011 were the endless Vancouver Canucks flags. After entering the grounds, things were not much different with hundreds of jerseys worn in support of the squad representing Canada in the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals.

During the set of the Trailer Park Boys, a Canadian comedy troupe, chants of “CA-NA-DA” came and went. The group played off the homegrown fans and riffed on Canadian currency and the fitting gag from their show of “Sam-sqatch.”

Unfortunately, the set felt a bit forced and the mics were too quiet, so very few of the jokes actually landed. The audience didn’t seem to mind, though—they were just content to be in the presence of the idols they had come to love.

“I can’t believe it, fuckin’ Ricky and Julian are right there! Where’s Bubbles? This is the greatest moment of my life!” Those were the words of a Sasquatch-tripper right behind us, who seemed on the verge of tears for most of the set.

Really, that fan represented the atmosphere of Sasquatch this year: amazing. Everyone has been relaxed, elated, and completely in sync with the performers.

They showed their appreciation with screams and sing-a-longs to the first artist we caught, Aloe Blacc. His band was over fifteen minutes late and he was another ten after them, but when he skyrocketed from backstage, adorned in a purple button down, vest, and fedora, the energy soared.

Aloe jumped right into the vocals and dancing, greeting the crowd with the cheer-worthy message of, “My name is Aloe Blacc and I’m here to sing some soul music.”

His aura was undeniable and the crowd loved it, but nothing could compare to my personal highlight of the day, Washed Out.

Led by Ernest Greene, who I have an interview tentatively planned with, Washed Out breezed through a set of layered synths and bass riffs. Playing in the tent designated for electronic artists, they deserve respect for utilizing a full band amongst a series of keyboard-only DJs.

Washed Out unveiled a new song, taking its live v-card for Sasquatch and opening up a new emotional dynamic to their music. They successfully walked the rarely attempted tightrope of simultaneous emotions and danceable beats. Not to mention, the strangest group of musicians I’ve seen in a while (see: pictures).

I packed it in early, still adjusting to the switch from London to Northwest time, but according to the people I spoke with about Bassnectar’s late night set, he phoned it in with a mediocre DJ set and easy drops, making me thankful to have not deprived myself of much-needed sleep.

Looking back, it was a fantastic day with a perfect audience. Everyone is friendly and open to each other, because they know that anyone with the know-of-all to attend Sasquatch is probably someone worthwhile to get acquainted with. Well, then again, maybe its just because they’re all Canadian.

Washed Out – “Eyes Be Closed” by Stereo/Pirate

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

Continuing with my Sasquatch! Music Festival coverage, I contacted the Moondoggies, a Seattle-based hometown favourite that specialize in rootsy-Americana rock. Playing at the Bigfoot Stage at 2:00 on Sunday, they are one of the few groups I can confidently say are a must-see. The list is unusually short thanks to a house and a half worth of conflicts and scheduling mishaps.

Really, almost every hour feels plagued. Most painful of all, Sunday evening is a scheduling nightmare. The Flaming Lips, Flying Lotus, and Yeasayer at the same time? This has to be a prank.

So I’m aware that I promised a personal schedule in my last preview, but with this year’s lineup, there is no way to work one out in advance without risking a tumor. As I’ve done for so much of my life, I’m just going to have to wing it.

Of the few plans my friend/photographer have locked in stone for Sasquatch, one of the most notable is meeting up with Sam Roberts. Getting the opportunity to speak with a rising Montreal-legend such as himself is an honor and I look forward to relaying the conversation via Forget the Box in a few days.

But first, as guaranteed, is my interview with the Moondoggies.


They’ve made a name for themselves in their old-fashioned harmonies, with all four members raising their sweet croons over genuine back-to-basics rock n’ roll—a style which has helped them develop a core fan base in Washington State.
As the Moondoggies launch out of the bar scene and into the major festival circuit, the added exposure has helped their audience expand, while high praise seems to be coming from every in-the-know source imaginable.

Out of respect for their busy schedules, especially at a time like this, I kept the questions quick and along with giving their word to swing by Montreal next time they get a chance, this is what they had to say:

Tell me about the experience of getting the opportunity to perform at your home state’s largest festival.
Moondoggies: The setting is insanely beautiful, it’s great. Free pass to watch music all day too.

I’ve always associated listening to your records with road trips across the NW, which is precisely what I’ll be doing to get to Sasquatch. How aware of the listener’s potential setting are you in the songwriting process?
Well I think when you’re creating a song it feels like a place or location you can go to or are getting to, and I think the same about music I listen to. People are going to create what that place is to them and I’ll only know my own outlook. If people ARE listening to it to try and experience something  hopefully it’s away from their computer desk…Unless they’re at work. Otherwise driving around has always been my favorite.

Moondoggies photo from lettersmixtape.blogspot.com

I’ve been in communication with several artists performing at Sasquatch! and I’ll be posting the transcripts as we go along. In this article, Black Mountain responds to my questions.

The bearded Vancouver-based psychedelic rockers have been converting their intense jam sessions to record for a few releases now and gaining a devoted following. Their newest album, Wilderness Heart, is their heaviest yet and should translate into a powerful live show. They are set to perform at 3:00pm on Monday at the Bigfoot Stage and are sure to mesmerize the midday smokers as always.

Here’s how bassist/singer Matt Camirand replied to my questions…

Tell me about the experience of getting the opportunity to perform at a festival taking place in a location like the Gorge.
I am looking forward to the Gorge as I have never been there before. I have many friends who have seen shows there and all have raved about it. As long as the weather holds out it should be a great time.

Back in 2008, I ran off from Roger Waters’ set at Coachella for about thirty minutes to catch you guys. Being in the middle of that conflict must have been something you were not especially happy about- in fact, I believe I remember you saying something to the audience along the lines of “thanks for missing out on all the awesomeness over there.” Care to add any insight into that experience or just festival scheduling in general?
Ha, yeah, I remember we had a bit of a moment of silence at one point so we could all hear Roger Waters’ set going on in the distance and in fact the second we were done I cruised over there and caught the end of Comfortably Numb with all the insane pyrotechnics and such. It did seem a little strange to schedule us specifically at the same time as Pink Floyd, all things considered.  But hey, it’s a festival and if I got upset for every time I’ve been to a festival and there’s been some logistical or organizational fuck up, I’d be a pretty miserable soul. Festivals are a lot of fun and I can only imagine how difficult they are to organize. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

You recently returned from touring Australia and Europe, what was that like?
It was great. We’ve been to both places before and are always happy to get to go and play our music for the Europeans and Australians. The hospitality in both places is always top notch and the chance to get out of rainy Vancouver in the winter to get some sun in Italy or Sydney is always welcome.

Black-Mountain by -gaga

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photo from amoeba.com

I’ve been granted a press pass to the Sasquatch Music Festival taking place this weekend in Washington State, and I couldn’t be more exhilarated. Why? Because Sasquatch has recently emerged as one of the premier festivals in the United States, and with its impressive 2011 lineup, maybe worldwide.

What makes Sasquatch unique amongst what seems to be an endless list of oddly—named music festivals is, undeniably, its location. Situated in the middle of Washington State, with no meaningful civilization for miles, Sasquatch takes place atop the Columbia River Gorge.

In case you’ve never heard of the Gorge, please take a moment to acknowledge the amazing idea of having a music festival on the edge of a breathtakingly gorgeous, four-thousand-foot deep canyon. The main stage literally looks over the edge, and audience members spend just as much time watching the beauty around them as they do the bands.

Maybe it’s because everyone is fresh off of a road trip (Quincy, WA is at least two and half hours away from any major city), but in general, Sasquatch-ians seem more elated and just stoked to be in attendance, compared to the attendees of most other high-profile festivals.

As a veteran of Coachella and Bumbershoot, I can safely say that the overall vibes and atmosphere at those festivals doesn’t even begin to compare to Sasquatch.

And that’s all without even mentioning the musical entertainment, which is top notch. In fact, this is Sasquatch’s ten-year anniversary, so they’re celebrating in regal fashion. For the first time, Sasquatch has expanded to four days (May 27-30), and the likes of Wilco, the Flaming Lips, Ratatat, and many more will be taking to their stages.

Due to previous plans in New York, I’ll be missing Friday and experiencing just the final three days. But that’s no big loss, because those days are loaded, and I’ll still see a great selection of the roughly 100 artists spread out from Saturday to Monday.

In fact, there may be too many artists, because my mind is swirling with conflict mania. I have a few days to work out my schedule, so I’ll give you a better idea of what I’ll be checking out in my next preview, but there are several acts from Quebec (e.g. Sam Roberts) and Washington (e.g. the Moondoggies) that I’ll be sure not to miss.

In my next preview: I’ll give you my complete schedule, provide transcripts from a few interviews, highlight key artists, and provide a bit more insight into the journey I plan on taking.

Ratatat – Wildcat by rabbitron

Festival photo from festivalcircuit.wordpress.com
logo photo from http://three-colours.blogspot.com/

Tape moi dans le…

The Frenchmen’s final word was inaudible, but not past the stretches of my imagination. Unfortunately, it provided little insight in response to my inquiries about his thoughts on Quebec. But oddly enough, his spanking desires ended up being one of the most coherent conversations I had at “the world’s greatest nightclub”, London’s fabric.

I arrived slightly before midnight and skipped past the two block line to waltz through the guest list. I checked my coat and wandered into the infamous Room One. Inside, Boys Noize was playing the first of his two sets that night, but the DJ table was far from the first thing I noticed.

The shaking floor… ridiculous lasers in every direction … smoke machines on maximum output… a mammoth disco ball… thousands of well-dressed dancers… and, of course, the endless security.

Everywhere I looked, it seemed as though there was a clubber being removed from the premises for raving just a little too hard. I couldn’t help but wonder: if 50% of your clientele have dropped a day’s pay at the bar and 40% are rocking dilated pupils, then shouldn’t the standard for public decency be just a hair below the Changing of the Guard?

For most, I imagine Room One is too much. While Boys Noize delivered on every level a grimey-electro DJ is expected to deliver on, the constant lasers and ground-shaking bass (literally, thanks to the “bodysonic” dancefloor) caused me to seek new discovery somewhere else.

Room Three was for the real dancers thanks to the absence of a crowd and more tribal-based rhythms, but Room Two was where I found myself most impressed.

Room Two featured an eyebrow-raising lineup of genuine instrumental artists that still managed to create an intense dance party. A definite highlight, Visions of Trees worked through a wholly original synth-heavy set. I guess downloading their limited, but growing discography immediately when I returned to my laptop that night is evidence enough of my appreciation.

But beyond the dancefloors is where I kept myself most entertained—specifically, the massive outdoor smoking “corner”. Throughout the night, a constant flow of hundreds of people stood together, surrounded by buildings and miscellaneous trees; smoking, conversing, and relieving themselves from claustrophobia.

It was there that I met the previously mentioned Frenchie, along with what was apparently preparation for the 2012 London Olympics of Clubbing. Ravers of every nation were represented, in fact, I can’t recall ever meeting more than two groups from the same country. I spoke with individuals from Chile, Italy, Germany, France, England, and likely a few I’m forgetting in hindsight.

All of them were eclectic and unique; undoubtedly helping make my potentially isolated night far more interesting. If anything came across, it was the reminder of an old cliché: it’s not what you do, but who you do it with.

Still, I experienced a satisfying night of randomness, leaving past 4am, though never really coming across anything unforgettable. Maybe my expectations were too high or maybe the circumstances just weren’t right, but either way, I made my final exit and gave the nod to a gentleman relieving himself in the street. I could relate, because after all, I too had just been pissing in the wind…

Visions of Trees by Visions of Trees

For more photos by Brian Guthmann visit us on facebook.

The night could best be summed up by two sentences overheard between the stage and the audience during the Acid Mothers Temple (AMT) set.

After the first jam, better classified as an eruption of noise (or chaos ignoring any traditional song structure or melody), guitarist Kawabata Makoto looked across the mostly hallucinogenic experimenting audience and asked in broken English, “By the way, have you seen a flying saucer?”

His question was met with a divergent mixture of poor attempts at laughter and adamant confirmations.
The response was a microcosm of the disparity between crowd members, split half-and-half between drugged-out diehards and bar patrons, who stumbled into the strangest set of their lives.

Of the drunken party-goers from the latter group, a few successfully made the transition into fan; potentially assisted by the merchandise of one of the several trench coat and sunglasses adorned gentlemen standing on the outskirts of the audience.

One of the converted spoke for the rest when he yelled, after AMT returned for an encore, “YOU ARE EXPERIMENTAL!” and then mustered a revering banshee howl generating pleased smiles from the stage.

Those smiles   led to a well-deserved encore;   a monstrous set-closer of epic proportions, composed of a steady half an hour build-up that somehow managed to be breathtaking the whole way through. The length was not unusual, no song clocked in at less than ten minutes during their jam-heavy set, but what was notable was the careful patience and powerful utilization of dynamics. Engaged the whole way through, the crowd was sent into hysteria, begging for an encore upon the conclusion of the set’s trance-inducing highlight.

The most consistent attributes to each song during AMT’s live performance were the metal-influenced guitar solos representing pure insanity let loose on an instrument. Makoto‘s fury of sporadic notes exploding from his heavily reverbed and distorted amp audibly recreated Jimi Hendrix’s most daring improvisations (e.g., the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock). Visually, he wasn’t far off either, with his solos climaxing to his unstrapped white Fender being thrown and spun in every possible direction: upside down, backwards, or above his long curly hair and beard. At times, I couldn’t help but wonder if Hendrix had been reincarnated in 1970’s Japan and given the opportunity to grow up in a more progressive music scene.

On the opposite side of the stage was Tsuyama Atsushi, bassist and occasional lead singer, who with the aid of an always entertaining loop pedal, layered endless eastern chants, murmurs, and sounds into avant-garde foundations for jams.

The portions of the set that focused on a mostly instrumental approach to psychedelic dark metal brought to mind the Flaming Lips latest album, Embryonic, even though AMT has been perfecting the craft of that genre for decades before the Lips even begin to dabble with it.

But that’s just the nature of experimental music, especially when instrumental—overlooked and under-appreciated, claiming only a cult status as the group that did it first.

Something about the playful banter and the intimate setting seemed to suggest that AMT couldn’t be more content with their current situation—becoming a household name was never a priority for any of them.

Thanks to the select few fanatics, AMT fed off their energy and summoned an intensity level that carried the music to the next level. The intensity was the most apparent similarity between them and their opening act, Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers. Each member of both groups managed to produce more sweat than a Pollock paintbrush splatters paint, causing me to stand back a few inches from my prime location against the stage.

It was a night of relentless noise, causing me and my New York friends to lose a good level of hearing ability over the next few days. But then again, maybe it was a blessing to help block out some of New York City’s endless horns and sirens.

Either way, an outsider’s enjoyment of the show comes down to a simple matter of point of view.
For some, AMT sounds like your new neighbor’s garage band, who you could’ve sworn moved into the neighborhood straight from the depths of Hell just to torture you.

And for some, that’s a good thing.

For more photos from the show visit us on facebook.

Photos by Alexander Fonseca

If your cup of tea is a 73-minute long concept album composed of just two tracks audibly replicating the album’s title, Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness, then I’d suggest you make an effort to see the psychedelic Japanese collective known as Acid Mothers Temple (AMT).

Actually, Recurring Dream is nearly three years old and for a band as prolific as Acid Mothers Temple, three years is a lifetime—since its 2008 release, AMT has released an astonishing ten studio albums, and one live DVD, yet each album stands unique, differing from any of their previous works. Whether it’s a experiment in metal, ambient, space rock or unclassifiable noise, the only consistent attribute to AMT’s music is, well, an exploration of music.

Their live performances tend to be maniacal, escalating the audience members’ trips into cosmic episodes more suitable for an interstellar space voyages than a local music venue—or at least until the drugs wear off and they realize they’ve been watching a group of middle-aged Japanese men scream over the already shrieking hiss of their amps for the last two hours. So maybe attendance is not for the casual listener.

As an eclectic, perpetually-evolving enigma which rarely features the same set of musicians; AMT tend to be difficult to predict. If anything definitive can be said about catching one of their live shows, it’s that the memory will remain isolated in your mind, likely divergent from any other show you’ll see again. To be fair, that memory may not necessarily be a positive one—but you’ll never know until the moment you allow yourself to exit your comfort zone and walk amongst the perma-fried fans at their next show.

Supporting AMT is the more melodic Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, a band that undoubtedly deserves recognition. Elements of blues, jazz, soul, rock, and punk all play a part in their raw, distorted musical grindhouse. With their live show growing increasing acclaim, this super-group (members of Creaky Boards, Soft Black, Kapow! and the Negatones) will likely be headlining shows of their own in the not-so-distant future. So, the opportunity to witness Shilpa’s reckless baritone (a la Janis Joplin) over the savage thunder of Her Happy Hookers is not to be missed in such an intimate setting.

Personally, I’ll be at checking out both of these anomalous acts in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory on April 12th, but for those readers in Montreal, you can catch them this Saturday, April 9th, at Il Motore.

Montreal info:
Il Motore
$17, doors open at 8:30, 18+

Brooklyn info:
Knitting Factory
$15, doors at 8:00, all ages

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Photo 1 brooklynvegan.com, photo 2 kevchino.blogspot.com