Psych Fest Review + Photoset

8th July | Trinity Centre

Photos: Craig Taylor-Broad

By today’s standards, it’s wholly impressive when an independent and distinctive music festival can reach a point to not only ensure survival but actually progress and begin to craft forward thinking line-ups and experiences year upon each new year.

For the past three years, Bristol Psych Fest has engaged in a passionate and loud audience on smaller foundations – building themselves up whilst providing a fun and engaging experience. Now, for a variety of reasons, the festival has reached a new height. Whether due to the new location (Bristol’s enigmatic and vociferous Trinity centre), the dedication to ensuring high quality (the standard of sound on offer was incredible) and sheer plethora of artists playing the event, Bristol Psych Fest has joined Simple Things in being a template of Bristol’s ever progressive and encompassing evolution.

Beginning in the cavernous upstairs of the Trinity Centre, Yama Warashi capture the mood of the day immediately, even at half past 2. Filtered into a four-piece for this performance, Yama remain one of Bristol’s most invigoratingly idiosyncratic bands. Experimental, vibrant and exhibiting a suitable balance of pleasure and emotion, they are the most natural of bands.

It’s difficult to detail just how impressive The Evil Usses are live without gushing into hyperbole, but that’s what they deserve. Immersive and undeniable, not only do they deliver the best set of the day (at 3pm may I note) but they are possibly the best live band in Bristol. Unyielding, relentless and utterly striking live.

Despite complaints with the sound onstage, London’s Dead Coast delivered their searching and far reaching spaghetti garage with engaging coolness, a gritty brattishness informing their live set well. Instilling their pragmatic elements into keen pop songs, they are a very intriguing prospect, especially as their set continues.

Challenging Evil Usses for the set of the festival, Yo No Se can only be described as sounding absolutely huge. On a big stage with the level of sound on offer, they conquer. Their grooving blasts of raucousness has a big crowd incensed, gyrating and surfing on a wave of undeniably catchiness.Energetic and emotionally engaging, Table Scraps are even more unhinged live. They are one fun band, honing their tight sound into something concise and fittingly elemental.

They are followed unequivocally by Bristol’s most exciting band right now, LICE. Undiluted and unadulterated in every manner of their performance and personality, they banish all idea of tempo and repetition live for something brazen and invigorating, which is the perfect embodiment of their sharp and realistic perception.

Heralding a deeper sense of drone to the proceedings, Sex Swing’s industrial sound reaches a whole other level live. Built to delve deep, everything churns into a trance, harrowing as much as hypnotic.

Phoenician Drive offer something as wonderfully inviting and distinctive, the Brussels band also exploring idiosyncratic traditions and forms in sound. Live they blur categorisation further compared to on record, their psych elements reaching even wider breadths into something experimental and even heavier than previously expected. Both bands symbolise the festival’s core aesthetic, to embody a progressive open-mindedness when it comes to sharing their passion.

The Shivas are a fantastic live band. Channelling their subtlety strong melodies into a truly embracive live set that is indulgent in all the right places. The trio remain animated throughout, bouncing their way through vital title track ‘Turn Me On’ as if it’s never going to end, and you really hope it won’t if to keep the energy that swirls around the room.

A slightly muted set from Spectres belies their continued progression into something utterly beguiling and sonically challenging. With the brutally powerful sound familiar to them slightly subdued, it allowed their idiosyncrasies to shine through, the brazen balance built between tracks from both records exhibiting the band’s growing fortification as a divergent group.

With the night slowly drawing to a monumental close, Garage heavyweights The Gories strip everything back to the bare wood and ultimately show the foundations for why we are all here in the first place. Primitive and completely inimitable, The Gories are a rock n roll template, bruising us with ‘Stranded’ and ‘Thunderbird ESQ’.

They were gone in a flash, capturing lightning in a bottle, just as this festival has. With the unmitigated range on offer, the interactivity of an engaged audience and the passion and belief from the festival’s creators, Bristol Psych Fest has forged itself as a truly distinctive festival.

Check out LICE’s video for ‘The Human Parasite’ below.