Psychic Ills @ Headrow House, 28/11/16
“Are you ready to see the best band in Leeds?” somebody hollered as I winded up the stairs of Headrow House. They were referring, of course, to Team Picture, the Leeds newcomers supporting psych rock veterans Psychic Ills. The line-up, completed by LA rockers Mystic Braves, drew quite the crowd. Up first were Team Picture, the lo-fi fuzz group dominating the local scene. They appeared to have lost a member or two in translation from their buzzed BBC Introducing set to Headrow House support slot but they returned with more energy than ever. Their impressive blend of experimental psych rock and noisy lo-fi garage translated successfully onto the stage, highlighting their huge potential.
The highlight of the night, however, came from Mystic Braves. Their love affair with the twangy, hippy-trippy sound of the 60s was immediately apparent but they gave it a contemporary spin. The band’s appearance screamed vintage revival with wacky hair and paisley shirts. Reminiscent of The Growlers, the fast-paced groovy numbers featured classic tambourine, husky vocals and twinkling guitar solos that transported us to the conception of LA psychedelia. It was their first time taking those tentative steps across the pond and performing in Europe which injected that extra spark into their set.
Then the fairy lights flickered off and the room was plunged into darkness. Psychic Ills finally drifted onstage, dressed in classic outfits, to deliver an unusual end to the night. Their special brand of psychedelia was mesmerising as each member beautifully mastered their instruments. However, they lacked the vibrant energy of their support bands. There was little communication or connection with the audience and their uninspiring live show may be why they’re not a huge name here in the UK.
Rife with acoustic interludes and the chirp of a harmonica, Psychic Ills’ performance was simplistic but atmospheric and hypnotising.
Image: Colin Lane