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After Midnight, We’re Gonna Let It All Space Out

January 27th, 2014

Woodsman/Herbcraft – Mercury Lounge – January 24, 2014

Woodsman

That certain midnight magic was in the air late at Mercury Lounge on Friday night as two up-and-comers brewed some potent music for the wee-hour crowd. Herbcraft began deep and heavy and remained there for the entire set. The guitar-bass-drums trio proved to be an exemplar entry into the neo-psychedelic revival, with scintillating guitar and long-pull-on-the-pipe bass. Vocals were saturated in reverb and echo to the point of being unintelligible as words, but perfect musical counterpoint to the droning jams that curtained them. At one point it sounded like “feed your head” was being chanted, and even if it weren’t, it probably should’ve been as the music hit furious peaks. The room’s vibe was similar to the weirdness of a late night in a diner: alone and communal, a little too bright and yet still plenty dark. Songs were strung together, each eight to 10 minutes, but together a formidable epic of cosmic jammers and looping melodies.

When Woodsman—another trio, this one with drums and two guitars—then took the stage at 1 a.m., the music was instrumental and appropriately dreamlike. The guitar playing was mostly chord strumming, no long solos, but the songs still stretched and flowed freely as time slipped away unnoticed. The first piece was 10 minutes of light, elegant, major-key twisting, beautiful but powerful. The second song was punctuated by a throbbing low-end electronic looping that opened up into an expert two-guitar jam that found its groove and stayed with it to its natural end. The middle section featured adventurous drum-led peak climbing and echoing guitar progressions with one impressive movement after another. Woodsman seemed to be playing the music of late night: shimmering chords shedding the previous day with lightly syncopated drums anticipating the coming morning. —A. Stein