Review: Rocking Cape Town with Soul-Flavoured Garage Psych


night beatsWith ‘Meet us at the Top of the Sky…’ as a philosophy, the goal of Psych Night is to create a South African psychedelic movement that’s not so much a throwback to the ‘60s as a contemporary network centred around the fuzzbox and reverb-fuelled genre. What’s more, they aim to create events that maintain the mind-altering spirit from beginning to end.

Psych Night and Vans present: Night Beats Live in SA was a testament to the success of their ideas. The Very Wicked’s distorted guitars, loud drumbeats, and vocals reminiscent of the subtle shimmer of crystals, supported their psychedelic credibility throughout their set. The music of The Future Primitives, who were up next, might have deviated fractionally from the true-to-the-genre principle, but their self-aware, down-to-earth, low-fi garage rock would have alienated only a fatuous genre Nazi.

Seattle-based main act Night Beats got almost everybody out of the annexe and into the main hall of The Assembly with their soul-flavoured garage psych, which replaced some of the genre’s dreamy naivety with a feisty spirit. Having played the Austin Psych Fest and performed with names such as The Black Angels or Roky Erickson, they extended the international neo-psych network by gracing our South African shores with a refreshing but knitted-into-the-niche sound.

With another Night Beats album due out this year, new songs were introduced, most notably an instrumental tune announced as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. South Africans liked what they heard, so as the raw guitars and drumming-cult-evoking beats came to an end, an enchanted audience demanded more. The band consented, ending the gig with a generous effect-ridden encore that incentivized the bassist to hang from the ceiling, drop into the audience and thus remain true to Night Beats’ ballsy rock’n’roll attitude.

Christine Hogg

Rock group Night Beats performed at The Assembly on 14 December.

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