Coming off a ten-year hiatus (which itself came off a 27-year hiatus), the “gods of space rock” Silver Apples have hit the road once again on a ten-date microtour across the States. Formed in New York in 1967, the experimental electronic rock duo featured Dan Taylor on drums alongside Simeon Coxe and his homemade synthesizer, consisting of nine audio oscillators and an assortment of 86 sound filters, telegraph keys, radio parts, lab gear and assorted bits of secondhand electronics, all manually operated with hands, elbows, knees and feet. Creating a spectacle both visual and aural, the duo soon garnered a reputation as a leading force in New York’s underground music scene. Though widely praised as trailblazers of electronic noise rock, the band’s exceptional lyrical work is too often overlooked: “Things have changed since Mama held my hand real tight / and wind has blown since I had my supper every night.” Heavy, man. Silver Apples will embark on this special reunion tour with local lads the Moon Upstairs, whose melody based psych-pop recalls the Brit-rock of the early ‘70s. Taking its name from a Mott the Hoople song and citing George Harrison, Pink Floyd, the Plastic Ono Band and Funkadelic as influences, the Moon Upstairs manages to wear its influences on its sleeve while putting a fresh spin on the genre. This will be a rare opportunity to view psych rock’s past and present on the same stage. (LL)
I became indoctrinated into the world of the Moon Upstairs at a Syd Barrett tribute night at Bordello a few months back, catching their super-chilled out version of Pink Floyd’s “Matilda Mother.” Though I’d heard just one song (and a cover at that), I immediately knew that this band was onto something big and couldn’t wait to scramble home and start Googling my amazing new find. After touring and collaborating with the very talented neo-soulster Cody Chesnutt, the Moon Upstairs became the full-time project of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sharif Dumani and bassist Aaron Ebensperger. Taking their name from a Mott the Hoople song and citing Pink Floyd, George Harrison, the Plastic Ono Band and Funkadelic as influences, the band is no mere psychedelic/folk throwback band, managing to simultaneously wear their influences on their sleeves while putting a fresh spin on the genre. After adding Mark Sogomian, Josh Mancell and Dave Baine to the lineup, the Moon Upstairs released their first record just two months ago on Gifted Children Records (same label as Women and Children and psychedelic legends Silver Apples). It’s a remarkably ambitious debut album of epic proportions, replete with infectious pop hooks, soaring harmonies, baroque psychedelic sounds and incredible string arrangements by Lavender Diamond’s Steve Gregoropoulos. It won’t take long for the rest of the world to discover the band’s monumental talent, so catch them at a free show while you can.
I discovered Syd at the tender age of 12, having caught the tail-end of “Baby Lemonade” on KXLU. For a long time, I held him to be a treasured unknown, an obscure artist—my secret find. That is, of course, until I learned that he was the founder of Pink freakin’ Floyd. Bordello’s Syd night featured 20 local bands doing one song each; I arrived later than planned and was happy to find the place packed with fellow lovers of the peculiar genius, though unfortunately I had just missed Eleni Mandell (I hear she did a lovely rendition of “Feel” on the ukulele). The DJ blasted classic Syd tunes between bands, and I mean blasted – I needed my earplugs more in-between sets than when the bands were playing. The first band I caught was the hippyish Big Search, which performed a dead-on rendition of “The Scarecrow” off Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Up next were Mezzanine Owls with “No Good Trying.” Kicking off their performance by asking the audience, “So who loves Sid Vicious?!” the funnymen in Kennedy delivered a great disco version of “Gigolo Aunt,” and the cheeky buggers mixed in Dark Side of the Moon’s “Time” in the middle of it all. The Moon Upstairs performed a super-chill version of another Piper track, “Matilda Mother.” The Pity Party was up next, having just raced over from a gig earlier that evening. I didn’t think a Barrett song could get any spookier until I heard their hypnotizing version of “Baby Lemonade.” Hubcaps closed out the evening with a medley of “Lucy Leave,” “Candy and a Currant Bun” and “Interstellar Overdrive.”