TVD Live: Psychic TV
at the Echoplex, 2/26
It’s not always easy to know what to expect from a Psychic TV concert. The band has been many things over the course of its 30-odd year career. There was the early video art/noise collage phase in the ’80s, then there was the acid house techno phase in the ’90s. Earlier in this decade, more was heard about frontperson Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s interest in body modification than about the music of his longest-running band.
Therefore, it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that the latest incarnation of Psychic TV is one of the best psychedelic rock bands currently active.
We caught a portion of their set at SXSW last year, and it was intriguing enough to warrant a closer look. Did they really play a reverent cover of Funkadelic chestnut “Maggotbrain,” or had the Texas heat simply messed with our heads?
From the first scorching chords of Hawkwind’s classic “Silver Machine,” it was clear that this was the same band – except that a year of subsequent jamming had only made them tighter and more intense. The Echoplex stage lit up with psychedelic lights and projected video manipulations as the band did their best to invoke their own sonic space ritual.
Genesis held the audience in thrall as the focal point of the show. H/she graciously introduced each band member with no trace of the ego one might expect from an individual credited with coining the term “industrial music” and spearheading the independent recording scene way back in the 1970s.
The set was primarily made up of long, moody soundscapes over which P-Orridge intoned spoken mantras about alien brains and lost loves. Genesis seemed genuinely surprised that the audience knew who Can were, before tearing into a spirited cover of “Mother Sky.”
Finally it all came to fruition as the familiar opening notes of “Maggotbrain” rang out. We had indeed not been dreaming; guitarist Jeff Berner can play some serious Eddie Hazel style licks. For an encore, we got another Hawkwind gem – “Hurry On Sundown,” to send us on our way.
Psychic TV have proven that they are not mere dabblers in psychedelic music. They are the real deal. May they continue to guide us onward and upward.