Last night I attended the first night of the Escalator Fest, a two-day psychedelic music and audio-visual festival. It’s nowhere near as big as Bumbershoot or the Decibel Festival, but it seemed like a good way for me to hear a lot of local bands at once. Dark, heavy ecstasy ruled the night, with bands blending deep, repetitive, primal beats and free-whirling, kaleidoscopic guitar riffs sent spinning through the air. I felt like I was melting through the space-time continuum with a horde of gypsies as my fellow travelers and shimmering shamans as my guides. Here is last night’s lineup, along with my critique and recommendations (click on the links to view their webpages and sample their music):
This Blinding Light combined undulating, consciousness-expanding guitar loops with just enough deep, steady bass and beat to keep us all firmly planted on earth. In fact, the guitarist got a little too firmly planted, as he knocked over an amp during a particularly electrifying riff. A couple band members seemed a bit flustered by the unintentional theatrics, but they carried on to please a now-distracted audience. Check out the first song on their webpage, “”Monochord In Your Eyes”.
Night Beats alternately conjured a dueling band of cowboys and Indians from cheesy westerns, and a motley group of musical gypsies from a 1960s garage. I couldn’t figure out if the drummer was a girl or a boy, but either way, he/she/it pounded out the most slamming, bicep-flexing beats of the night. If it was a girl, she had some pretty impressive guns. Check out “H-Bomb”.
Jeffertitti’s Nile was my favorite band of the night. They produced a bluesy, danceable set that made a bunch of neo-hippies start twirling around like a maniacal troupe of whirling dervishes. “Mountain Jam” was the best song of the night – atmospheric vocals and guitar with just enough beat to keep your head boppin’ and your feet tappin’. Check it out on their webpage.
Dahga Bloom’s cacophony sounded like a bluegrass band got mixed together with some crazed snake charmers who just never quite found the right notes to produce their magic. A little demented with the singer’s whining la-la-la’s, and catchy only in an annoying way, like a song you dislike but can’t get out of your head. But hey! They had an electric fiddle, and I’d never seen that before, so that was cool! Their best song was “Dhaga Bloom”.
Blood Red Dancers finished us off, and I have to say they were my least favorite. Their instrumentals started pretty good, but then the singer started rasping and croaking into the microphone like a dying Jabberwocky, which just really hurt my delicate ears. I wanted to go up to him and say, “Hey, except for you, your band’s pretty good!” No, I wouldn’t say that, but I really don’t have any song to recommend from them.
So that was the first night of Escalator Fest, complete with highlights and lowlights. I’m going to the second night of festivities this evening, so look for another post tomorrow.