Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Medicine

Reunited noise rockers squall, if only briefly

Have Nineties alt-rockers been gone long enough for reunions to be major occurrences? Medicine’s Psych Fest set Saturday night in the Levitation Tent seemed to be one of the three-day event’s most anticipated – at least as far as this giddy crowd was concerned.

Joined by bassist Dale Jennings and Austin guitarist Matt Devine, original prescriptors Jim Goodall (drums, bright red lipstick), Beth Thompson (vocals), and Brad Laner (guitars, vision) justified the high hopes with a bracingly loud – if oddly brief – performance.

Photo by Gary Miller

Drawing from early albums Shot Forth Self Living (1992) and The Buried Life (1993), plus new disc To the Happy Few, the originally L.A.-based group nourished the faithful and initiated the neophytes with sweet pop songs buried in hellacious noise. Theirs was the aural equivalent of a cupcake frosted with razor blades.

Laner wrings sound out of his instrument that indicates his equipment’s failing: tubes dying, pickups disintegrating, speakers slashed. Goodall generates danceable beats, while Thompson croons like an angel, and Laner slathers it all with a guitar squall that gives industry flacks ulcers. “Miss Drugstore,” “Never Click,” and “Long As the Sun” should be sunny confections, not amp-frying nightmares, right?

Not if the audience’s enthusiastic endorsement of tinnitus says anything. The band hit its stride with the withering skronk pop of “Aruca,” which abruptly closed the set as the APF crew hustled a visibly annoyed band offstage. No one was leaving without Medicine’s meltdown masterpiece, however, so the stage manager acquiesced to audience enthusiasm for a truncated but still effective blaze through “One More,” the noise pop anthem to end all anthems.

Our eardrums weren’t thanking us this morning, but the silly grins stand.

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Medicine, Jim Goodall, Beth Thompson, Brad Laner, Dale Jennings, Matt Devine, Austin Psych Fest 2014

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