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Steve Davis' Interesting Alternative: Steve visits The Liverpool Psych Fest

Manchester musician John Howes
John Howes

It’s not often you get to look down on a legend and maybe spy an upcoming one but recently I had the pleasure of doing just that. The Liverpool Psych Fest is billed as ‘a pan-continental celebration of audio-futurists, operating at the bleeding edge of today’s psychedelic renaissance’. Well, I’m certainly not going to argue especially as at relatively short notice I was asked to DJ at its Camp and Furnace venue! Apart from having the pleasure of spinning a few favourite tunes as far ranging as The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows and Gong’s A Sprinkling Of Clouds, to Holden’s Renata and Cyrus’ mind-blowing dub techno masterpiece Inversion, I was treated to a bird’s-eye view of the varied artists on stage on the opening Friday night.

I arrived in time to witness the amazing Japanese band Kikagaku Moyo, who raised many eyebrows by introducing the rare experience of a psychedelic sitar solo to Liverpool! I quickly popped out into the food and drink area for some excellent local real ale and top-notch grub and returned to witness Swedish band Dungen play some wigged-out old school prog before climbing to my upper balcony DJing location, overlooking the Camp Stage. And there below me was the legend, Mr Silver Apples himself, performing solo now, but regardless, still booting butt at the grand old age of 78. Simeon Coxe III admits to never being able to play a musical instrument but his pioneering work in DIY electrickery has seen him rise to legendary status. His two late 60s albums have seen great interest recently, akin to the cult following afforded to White Noise’s An Electric Storm. It was a joy to see him still operate what looked like retro equipment and create his wonderful and now rather quaint style of electronica.

Next up were the amazing duo Demdike Stare. Marvellous soundscapes started off proceedings before they ramped things up with thunderous bass lines that got the crowd and balcony literally shaking! After that we were treated to the glorious Gnoomes, a Russian band who I think every progressive fan would absolutely love. Finishing of the evening was Howes. John Howes (pictured) is a 22-year-old Mancunian and may be destined to reach legendary status in years to come. I was blown away by his originality and can’t wait to listen to his recorded output.

If you’ve never been to the Liverpool Psych fest then I suggest you get planning for a trip to the Baltic Triangle in 2017 and soak up a bit of true Scouse culture.