Wow. I think I blew out an eardrum or possibly a fuse in my brain.
I also think I can admit when I’m wrong and I was certainly wrong about what the concert had in store for me based on what I’d read and heard of the Holydrug Couple, a psychedelic rock duo from Chile.
I was expecting some pleasant, poppy, Mac DeMarco-style psych-lite. I’d listen to ten songs, have a beer, feel vaguely cozy and tripped out, clap and go home. A regular Tuesday night.
Based on the openers, Berlin-based Mystery Art Orchestra, who played some enjoyable but quite tame psych-y post-punk-y goodness, (that I WILL note seemed especially well-received by the audience), this was all set to happen.
“this would actually be the kind of night where I was decapitated by wall-breaking, mind-annihilating sound.”
But when The Holydrug Couple came on, after fiddling to get the sound on the mic perfect for some time, I quickly understood, and then increasingly was reminded all along their set that no, this would actually be the kind of night where I was decapitated by wall-breaking, mind-annihilating sound.
While the duo (in this instance a trio) tend towards jangly psych-infused, 60’s era pop on what I’ve heard of their records, the show couldn’t be further from a summer indie-kid playlist.
The words I’d choose to describe this set are: smooth, sexy, hard, psych and dreamy. At their dreamiest hardest, I was getting the sound and dreamy instrumentals of Beach House’s epic climaxes and honestly MBV’s thrashing ecstasy; at their smoothest sexiest, slow sensual melodies and harmonies like ballads of the 70’s, though perhaps circa today, reminiscent of something Connan Mockasin or yes, Mac DeMarco, would do.
“Smoke and lights bled into each other in the blissfully distorted, confusing way of the best kind of psychedelia”
The lyrics, from what I could make out were very much in line with this 70’s crooner model, mostly made up of “oohs”, “ahhs” and “baybays”, but somehow the lyrics felt unimportant, merely adding to the general euphoric sound experience.
Words in general were fairly sparse. As songs, smoke and lights bled into each other in the blissfully distorted, confusing way of the best kind of psychedelia, frontman Ives Sepulveda would utter a few heavily distorted words; sometimes “thank you very much, muchas gracias”, sometimes imitating the audience whooing and clapping into the mic, sometimes I have absolutely no idea.
Give me laser sounds, effects pedals, and smoke machines and I’m there. (They did.)
The band’s style has been compared to movie soundtracks of the 70’s and 80’s, which I wasn’t getting before, but actually found myself thinking without remembering the reference during the show. A little harder and heavier perhaps, but with the synth-heavy, lengthy intros, outros, and purely instrumental interludes, I was definitely getting film-score vibes. Anyway, give me laser sounds, effects pedals, and smoke machines and I’m there. (They did.)
The Holydrug Couple played two somewhat lighter encores, but at that point, I think I needed to taper off anyway. I exited to the sound of show-goers, who’d been frantically dancing moments earlier, gasping “that was so good”.
It was, and I’m off to listen to all four of Holydrug Couple’s Albums to figure out what I might have missed.
By the way, be sure to check out their newest, freshest release, Hyper Super Mega.