“Is there a Psych referee in the house?” asked Amy Fowler, keyboard player for The Aerosols, while onstage during the band’s set at The Brick and Mortar Music Hall on Friday, April 27. Though no one rose to the task, the question was fair, considering the range of psychedelic displays by the night’s line up. Four bands-three from San Francisco, one from Nevada City-huffed and puffed through the night at this Mission District venue.
Billy Cramer and Share The Land graciously welcomed the audience with a rocking set. The four piece of drums, bass, keys and guitar played songs that seamlessly swayed between sections that sounded like Classic Rock and others that sounded like 60s Psychedelic Rock. The former style was used for the core of the songs (verses and choruses) while the latter could be heard during instrumental interludes.
Up next were The Goldenhearts. The 7-piece band featured a string section accompanying a tenacious line up of drums, bass and guitar. Their sound struck me mostly as Alternative Rock-even though the band is sometimes labeled as Psychedelic Rock. (The wide range of textures and arrangements offered by the band makes it hard to classify.) The Goldenhearts’ music is highly developed and thought out, each song garnished by vocal harmonies, string arrangements, interludes and break sections. As their set progressed, the intensity of the night kept rising-culminating when guitarist/vocalist Roger Rocha abused one of his guitars, breaking several strings simultaneously during a solo.
The Soft Bombs provided a straight 60s Psych vibe, aided by the projection of kaleidoscopic imagery and other obscure footage on a blanket behind the stage. The Nevada City band-a four piece of drums, bass, guitar and keys-is completing a small West Coast tour as they promote their sophomore full-length album Embrace The Light. The Soft Bombs’s sound is solid and consistent. Frontman Michael Padilla’s voice glided blissfully between low and high registers, and drummer Ben Bodine kept the music blazing while mixing disco beats into songs reminiscent of Britpop. The band witnessed the peak of audience numbers and energy, thanks to good timing and a well-defined sound.
Headliners The Aerosols took to the stage to close what seemed to be an unofficial Psych Fest off shoot. The San Francisco four piece of drums, bass, guitar and keyboard played an impassioned set that ran late into the night. The Aerosols use blithe pop melodies that feel comfortable and easy. The psychedelia comes through in the keys arrangements that give movement to the harmony laid down by the bass and guitar. The resulting dynamic texture of the music provide frontman Joe Z. Armin’s voice a landscape to journey over. One of their most representative songs was “She’s So Far Gone,” of which you can find a recording on the bands’ MySpace page.
Overall, it was a fun night at this recently re-branded venue in San Francisco. Event producer and DJ Neal Martinson a.k.a. SMILE! showcased an impressive array of local talent.