Austin Psych Fest Live (Sunday): Loop

APF’s closing hymn of feedback and distortion

Crowning a music festival as artistically successful as this year’s APF constitutes a hell of a challenge. Fortunately, organizers had a particularly sharp arrow in the quiver: Loop. After a near-quarter-century absence, the UK quartet returned to the colonies, its Sunday slot in Austin the centerpiece around which its U.S. tour was built.

Loop guru Robert Hampson (Photo by Gary Miller)

Despite an unforgiving time slot and what seemed to be near-constant monitor issues, visionary Robert Hampson and the final Loop lineup (minus drummer John Wills, replaced by Heads skin-pounder Wayne Maskell) still dropped a monster set on the crowd that stayed to see it, drawing from all eras of its brief career and cranking the volume near the pain threshold.

Starting 15 minutes early, Loop set the standard with its opening number as “Soundhead” rode a wave of feedback, basic riffology and vocals buried so deeply in the mix they’re just another texture. Thick solos and grinding riffs belie that the silver-haired Hampson hadn’t picked up a guitar in 24 years. Relentless rockers “Collision,” “Vapour,” and “Arc-Lite” hammered their riffs home with controlled fury. The more languid “Fade Out” and “Fever Knife” would scan shoegazer if they weren’t so visceral.

Cheers greeted the set-closing “Burning World,” a strangely uplifting hymn of feedback and distortion. By the time the band encored with a truncated but powerful take on Can’s “Mother Sky,” the crowd had thinned considerably, unsurprisingly given the lateness of the hour on a work night. Too bad. Sensible punters missed the climax of the kind of show that makes APF special.

Set List, Carson Creek Ranch, May 4, 2014

“Soundhead” (from Heaven’s End)
“The Nail Will Burn” (from A Gilded Eternity)
“Straight to Your Heart” (from Heaven’s End)
“Pulse” (from Fade Out)
“Fade Out” (from Fade Out)
“Collision” (from The World in Your Eyes)
“Arc-Lite” (from The World in Your Eyes)
“Fever Knife” (from Fade Out)
“Vapour” (from A Gilded Eternity)
“Burning World” (from The World in Your Eyes)


“Mother Sky” (from The World in Your Eyes)

More Loop
A Gilded Eternity: The Return of Loop
A Gilded Eternity: The Return of Loop
Seminal UK outfit returns to U.S. expressly for Psych Fest

Michael Toland, May 1, 2014

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Loop, Robert Hampson, Wayne Maskell, Can, Austin Psych Fest 2014

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