A Psychedelic Saturday with Mystic Braves at Rough Trade NYC

September 19th, 2016

Mystic Braves – Rough Trade NYC – September 17, 2016

Brooklyn got a glimpse of two sides of Los Angeles on Saturday night with an entertaining bill at Rough Trade NYC. After a warm-up from local rockers the Colorines, the crowd was treated to Jeffertitti Moon’s new project, the Dream Ride. He self-describes the music as “electro-magnetic dream-disco,” and I don’t think I could improve much on that. The set felt like listening in on dance music from the very near future. Style was as important as sound, Moon dressed in a bedazzled white suit, tie-dyed sci-fi images projected on the screen behind him. With a drummer and dueling keys/synth players, and Moon’s vocals getting a dose of reverb and digital effects, the music had a funky warmth. He revealed they had been detained at the Canadian border, indeed thrown in a cell, and joked that they wrote a couple of songs while locked up, which turned out to be covers of “Crimson and Clover” and later a fun take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

I was surprised to learn that his backing band featured members of the headliner, Mystic Braves, when he introduced them. That gave the between-set transition an almost Clark Kent–in-a-phone-booth feel as the deep synth transformed into the Mystic Braves unmistakably throwback ’60s psychedelic palette. There are many bands working with in this sound, but typically there is some qualifier, some update or twist. With these Angelenos, the only qualifier is that you didn’t need to invent a time machine to hear it. With shaggy haircuts, beautiful vintage guitar and basses, and songs like “Desert Island,” the quintet was a perfect simulacrum of a summer-of-love rock band, nailing the surf-psych-garage sound to exhilarating effect.

Each song featured almost constant guitar-noodle rips, packing a wealth of notes and layers of sound into each without meandering or lollygagging. The set picked up steam as it went along, hitting on material from all three of their releases, the influences of the Beatles and the Byrds on, for example, “Spanish Rain,” eventually providing a launching point for more psychedelic explorations. The final half of the show was filled with musical twists and turns, the after-midnight crowd finding their dancing feet. “Cloud Nine” was a centerpiece, with a central-casting organ whirl and a double-time guitar solo folded in the middle. The show culminated in a raucous full-band jam to close out “Bright Blue Day Haze,” a final glimpse of days long gone and a small slice of L.A. —A. Stein | @Neddyo