Trance-inducing Brooklyn Raga Association open the show, bringing a token sitar and the whimsical, nostalgic drone of Ravi Shankar-influenced 60's psychedelia, leaving the red-eyed early birds of the crowd in a blissful daze. Moving along about a decade, Brooklyn's Weird Owl do a hell of a job replicating the sludgy stoned-out-of-your-skull sound of 70's Robin Trower and early Black Sabbath. Then The Runaway Suns get everyone's heart beating again with shimmering guitars and their rocking Stooges-meet-Turtles psych-pop.
The squinty-eyed audience gets a little more giddy around 8:30 when the free beer starts to flow, courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery, while Boston's 28 Degrees Taurus bring a long awaited and welcomed dose of phaser. Pulsating and panning, Jinsen Liu’s guitar tone is haunting and ethereal. The hypnotic chime of his dazzling, pearly white hollow-body 12-string, backed by a super tight rhythm section makes for some harrowing yet surprisingly catchy tunes.
The Bipolaroids show up from New Orleans, and everyone can sense the peak coming on. A doped-out Julian Casablancas or a young Syd Barrett-type fronts a twangy four-piece that sounds like a trippier Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, putting on the best, most energetic performance of the night. None of which would have been the same if they didn’t lug around an ancient Vox Continental organ (the sound of the Doors, and well, the 60’s) all the way up from the Gulf. The only thing is, they had a lot of great 3-minute songs that could’ve, should’ve, would’ve made for some way far-out 7-minute jams.
Sounding a lot like something between the Velvet Underground and every-other-indie-band-thereafter, the DeVries mark a low point in the night. They bring lots and lots of effect pedals, an impressive line up of guitars and a meticulous attention to their tone, which, along with a v-neck sweater, shows some Walkmen-like aspirations. Unfortunately their three guitar players tend to drown each other out, as two 12-strings make for certain overkill.
Plastic Crimewave Sound bring noisy, heavy, simple, but more unconventional fare from Chicago. From some kind of blues to Krautrock, Crimewave’s minimalist psych-punk also provides the much-need drone fix for the later half of the evening. Israel’s wild garage-rock duo Monotonix would be a helpful comparison, but unlike those guys, Crimewave mostly stands in one place.
All in all, the Fest feels a lot like that weak dose of sunshine acid your friend with nappy dreads from Burlington, VT (or Boulder, CO) brought you, promising it’s the real deal, that stuff your dirtbag uncle dropped with his friends back in the day when they ran around the Haight. It’s shimmering and giggly, but it's nothing to blow your mind… man.