Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Spectrum

Sonic Boom to Spaceman 3, sweet dreams are made of this

Sonic Boom – Peter Kember to his mother and Spectrum to Psych Fest
Sonic Boom – Peter Kember to his mother and Spectrum to Psych Fest (by Gary Miller)

Sonic Boom – Peter Kember to his mom – hasn’t released a Spectrum LP in several years, but that doesn’t mean the act ain’t a going concern. That said, the UK trio’s Psych Fest set was equally about Spacemen 3, the pioneering Eighties psych-rock troop whose feedback and drone-ridden spirit hangs over this festival like an awning over the back porch.

Wielding a guitar, a Yamaha keyboard, and a tabletop of effects pedals, knobs, and other twisty-turny things, Kember kept the formula simple: his rock band kept a two-chord vamp going and the leader intoned lyrics, strummed rhythm, or manipulated his devices.

The first few songs floated on a mellow vibe, with slow tempos and a dearth of noise. Tunes like “How You Satisfy Me” acted as chill-out music cleansing the palette. Louder guitars and peppier rhythms made themselves felt at the set went on, at times building up a head of steam big enough to remind the crowd from whom the Brian Jonestown Massacre and their ilk found inspiration.

To the delight of audience diehards, the ghost of Spacemen 3 took over by the end, beginning with the sneering “Revolution” and ending with the wordless “Suicide.” The latter’s one-chord melodic drone built in intensity, keeping the momentum racing forward without speeding up or turning up. Even the bass player snapping a string couldn’t stop it.

Once the howling electronics and feedback guitars reached their apex, Kember left the stage, followed a few minutes later by the bassist, then the drummer. The band wasn’t done yet, though, picking up where it left off until all the sound onstage coalesced into one droning tone. With an admonition to have “Sweet dreams,” Kember brought the show to a close without choking off his accomplishment.

More Spectrum
Austin Psych Fest Live: Silver Apples
Austin Psych Fest Live: Silver Apples
Oscillations from a ‘psychodelic’ grandfather

Michael Toland, April 27, 2013

More Austin Psych Fest
Austin Psych Fest Announces Lineup
Austin Psych Fest Announces Lineup
APF 7 goes global

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 4, 2013

Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Deerhunter
Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Deerhunter
I almost died for Deerhunter

Luke Winkie, April 28, 2013

More by Michael Toland
Texas Platters
Thor & Friends
Thor & Friends (Record Review)

Oct. 21, 2016

Texas Platters
Casual Strangers
Wedding Album (Record Review)

Oct. 21, 2016


Spectrum, Austin Psych Fest, Sonic Boom, Spaceman 3, Peter Kember, Brian Jonestown Massacre

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)