Levitation Review: Föllakzoid, The Men, Vuelveteloca

Guitarist’s pedalboard steals the show

How long are the Andes? How high is space? These questions floated in my mind Friday night at Barracuda while enjoying sounds from the rich psych soil of Santiago Chile. The answers: 4,500 and 62 miles, respectively.

The hard-hitting, machine-like pummel of drummer Juan Manuel Gili made Vuelveteloca’s arrival feel like a helicopter had landed in the backyard of the club. “Alta Montana, a standout track on new LP Sonora, released by UK psych label Fuzz Club, found the South American quartet laying out its crisp, driving, riff-mongering take on psychedelia as lorded over by the gamma ray vocals of diminutive frontman Tomás Olivos. Despite a malfunctioning bass amp that vanquished any low-end from their swelling jams, a growing crowd spoke enough Spanish to show appreciation: “Viva Chile!”

Interspersing Vuelveteloca and countrymen Föllakzoid, Brooklyn’s the Men tossed off a set of calloused-handed, full-spirited, workingman rock. Leaning heavily on 2018 LP Drift, the quartet lit off with the frantic raw power punk of “Killed Someone” and their energy remained propulsive even when slowing down for “Sleep.” A unrecorded closing number found co-vocalist/guitarist/saxophonist Nick Chiericozzi pumping out poetic lines with a distinctly Beefheartian delivery that satiated us before the less lyrical headliner.

Föllakzoid (Photo by John Anderson)

Hand-dancing like a techno DJ, strutting Prince-like, and pantomiming instructions to the keyboard player before even touching a pick to the strings, Föllakzoid’s Domingo García-Huidobro – decked in a full length dress – exists as an uncommon brand of guitar hero. Wielding a Pollock-like sonic paintbrush, his Fender Jaguar rarely emitted more than three separate notes in each of the two 25-minute overtures that made up the trio’s headlining set, but he freaked them into glorious mutations of infinity echo and electronic squalls with ingenious knob-turning. In essence, his pedalboard was the star of the show.

Meanwhile, the fuel for Föllakzoid’s predominantly instrumental kraut-trance spaceship was drummer Diego Lorca, who was remarkably sturdy and effective in the 130bpm dance beat he slammed throughout the 50-minute set. The Sacred Bones-signed trio remains extremely minimal in melodic composition, but rhythms are what creates atmosphere and Föllakzoid is a rhythm band, every instrument effectively employed as percussion.

Dance music for people who don’t dance, Friday’s show embodied a sort of psych rave. Bathed in liquid lights, García-Huidobro hammed it up for the crowd – biting off his wristband, contorting backwards onto the floor, and posing – while the rhythm section swung the musical version a hypnotist’s pendulum. The audience remained conscious, hollering between bursts of supernova guitar.

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Levitation 2018, Föllakzoid, Vuelveteloca, The Men, Tomás Olivos, Domingo García-Huidobro, Diego Lorca, Juan Manuel Gili, Nick Chiericozzi, Captain Beefheart

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