Psychic TV - Echoplex - 2/26/12
It's hard to describe Psychic TV live without throwing around new age terms. Going to see the band live is almost like an experiment in meditation. You have to leave the outside world at the door, enter with no expectations, and let the music take you wherever it will. Maybe in the process, you'll close your eyes, sway to the psychedelic sounds and emerge from the experience transformed in some way.
The group is best know for its founder Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, who helped spawn industrial music and late 20th century alternative culture with the seminal group Throbbing Gristle. Originally from the U.K. and now based in New York, P-Orridge's work as an artist and musician has consistently challenged both music's and society's conventions. The forthcoming film, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, explores the relationship of P-Orridge and late wife Lady Jaye as well as their work in something called pandrogyny. Through plastic surgery -- and by each taking on the name Breyer P-Orridge -- the couple attempted to become something akin to a single being, blurring gender and identity.
The group's sounds have evolved from the experimental pop of albums like Allegory and the Self, to the pioneering acid house of the Jack the Tab era to the psychedelic post-rave sound of the group's more recent works.
Live, you can't predict what they'll do, either. There may be a few songs that have been popping up frequently on tour -- like "Thank You (Part One)" -- but there are also lots of surprises. Last night, the band played "White Nights," with lyrics based on the disturbing quotes of cult leader Jim Jones. The song dates back to the 1983 album Dreams Less Sweet and P-Orridge said that this was the first time the band was playing it live.
This was a big show and there was reverence in the air. Psychic TV's contributions to electronic and psychedelic music, art and counterculture cannot be underestimated. Several people mentioned that they hadn't seen the band live before. I'd actually seen the band at the Music Box in 2007, and they were an altogether different group. Sunday night's show provided a more intimate look at the band. That this was also Genesis' 62nd birthday made the event an even bigger celebration.
As part of the encores, the band played a rousing cover of Funkadelic's song "Maggot Brain," which was featured on a PTV3 release a couple years ago. Genesis introduced it with an anecdote about a 30-minute version of the song they played in Moscow that received a standing ovation. Their rendition at the Echoplex didn't last quite as long, but the crowd was entranced. After the encore the crowd roared with applause, hoping in vain for another one.
The show was co-presented by Slow Motion, the local party championing dark and esoteric electronic sounds. Noise act Bestial Mouths performed a compelling set marked by Lynette Cerezo's passionate wails. I've been following this band since its inception, but this was perhaps the first time I've seen them play on a proper stage. Dangerous Boys Club (DBC) started off the night with a rainbow of piercing strobe lights and a sound that was as experimental as it was accessible. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them.
The Crowd: Dressed in fashionable black or band t-shirts unrelated to Psychic TV.
Random Notebook Dump: Psychic TV knows how to put together a merch booth: $5 postcard sets, limited edition tour 7" singles, a necklace that looks like a rosary.