Live Review: Macefield Music Festival 2016 Day 2, Part 1

Local Music, Live Reviews
10/06/2016
Zach Frimmel
Festival vibes from Wanz // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

Day 2 of Macefield Music Festival possessed a nice balance of crisp October weather, jangly jams, electrified éclat, and some bona fide rock 'n' roll - such as the rapturous return of Hazel! It's been a minute since the 90s grunge-era band has reunited to play a festival, possibly since 2012's MusicfestNW. While it drizzled on KEXP stage-gazers in the late afternoon, the Sub Pop-rostered trio of Jody Bleyle (drums/vocals), Pete Krebs (guitar/vocals), and Brady Payne Smith (bass) played their dizzying power pop while their iconic spectacle Fred Nemo complemented their show with his eccentrically entertaining antics and dancing.

Hazel on KEXP Main Stage // photo by Melissa Wax

Hazel on KEXP Main Stage // photo by Melissa Wax

Evening turned and the KEXP main stage was glowing with ominous blue lights inside while the all-white-cladded Psychic TV prepared to go on at 7:30 PM. Opening their set was Jackie Hell, one of Seattle's beloved impressionist and live entertainer. The few minutes she was up there she sang, in some kind of nasally deep voice, a ridiculously funny chantey about an affair with Charles Manson that went something like, "Hey babe, wanna boogie? A boogie-oogie-oogie with me?" She then proceeded to squeeze out strange sounding panting and moaning noises. Then using the nasally deep voice went back into, "We can boogie in the house we can boogie in the yard, come on babe it ain't very hard." A great soliloquy to set up the idiosyncratic Psychic TV.

Jackie Hell // photo by Melissa Wax

So then the members of the occult UK video and experimental art group Psychic TV entered the stage with an obscure soundbite playing that gradually got commandeered by a climax of psych-whimsical, wall-of-sound elation. Projected behind the musicians were cult signs that periodically morphed in and out of each other and an ambiguous mise en scénes. After a couple more soundbite interludes, the show took a (not surprising) interactive performance turn when the frontman and singer bantered for a bit then had the crowd turning to their right and left to smile at and hug someone they didn't know because he wanted to play to a happy and on-their-toes crowd.

Psychic TV on KEXP Main Stage // photo by Melissa Wax

Psychic TV on KEXP Main Stage // photo by Melissa Wax

The rest of the night was spent in the den of dissonance over at The Sunset, where Seattle outfits Charms, Bali Girls, Lesbian, and Sandrider rained down fretboard fury. Following Merso's (formerly Leatherdaddy) set, Charms's spastic, dark 'n' shoegaze-y thrash rock took the crowd down a spiral of epilepsy-inducing visuals that offset their moody synth modulations and cymbal-heavy drumming.

Charms at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

Charms at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

The durational noise rock trio Bali Girls was up next. The arsenal of pedals that Brian Burnside (guitarist, also in Heavy Hearts) had arched in front of him emancipated such drone, swells of reverb, and volume-controlled distortion. Some parts of songs would be sustained on just a one or two bass riffs - loud, but slow-paced - accompanied by creatively placed guitar effects, drum fills, and crescendoed buildups.

Bali Girls at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

Bali Girls at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

The decline of Bali Girls's noise rock quickly became usurped by the piercing doom metal of Lesbian, who vocals range from diabolically bellied yowls to guttural throat singing. The Randall Dunn-produced quintet paved the bellowed brick road for hometown Good to Die Records three-piece Sandrider to finish off the the night and festival for The Sunset. With more Botch-brash embrace and less harrowing brutality, Sandrider rode off with the rest of us into the stoner rock sunset.

Lesbian at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

Lesbian at Sunset Tavern // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

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