May 4th, 1am, I found myself in front of a chaotic Dead Skeletons at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall, hypnotized with the rest of the audience by some sort of ritualistic frenzy. What a great weekend for psychedelia in the Bay! The Washington D.C.-based Dead Meadow led a miniature psych-fest that featured a slew of similarly stoney bands (Dead Skeletons, LSD and the Search for God, Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, Old Testament, and more), scattered across three days and two venues.
My favorite of the bunch was Reykjavík’s Dead Skeletons — I have a biased penchant for Icelandic music, I won’t lie. The band got the most out of their jaunt across the pond, to the furthest destination they’ve ever traveled to play, no less, with two dizzy, skull-splitting sets: a Friday/Saturday double feature at Brick & Mortar. They headlined the former, with an hour-long maelstrom of intoxicating experimental psych, and opened for the masterful Dead Meadow on Saturday.
Dead Skeletons’ eerie epics were captivating and clamorous, and the gang of seven is a little eccentric (or maybe just Icelandic) with their helter skelter ‘Magick,’ and vibe-making stage rituals. At the start of each set, the multitalented Jón Sæmundur Auðarson slaps a pretty impressive watercolor skull onto a blank canvas, which they later sell at their merch booth, and lights fragrant sage to set the scene for their occult reverb magic. The whole thing is a dose of cosmic eloquence, and both nights I was way too disappointed to hear their sets come to a close. Highlight tracks: “Psychodead,” “Om Mani Peme Hung,” and “Ljósberinn” from 2011’s Dead Magick.
Dead Meadow took the stage on Saturday to one of the raddest projections I’ve ever seen and a forty-minute set (all too short) of rippling lysergide in musical form. Their psychedelia is crystal clear and a little less garagey, but enchanting nonetheless. The three-piece is minimal – especially in comparison to Dead Skeletons’ hypnotic chaos – but their sound is huge and intricate. When Brick & Mortar kicked them off stage promptly at 2am, the crowd was quick to protest – I mean, who wants to cease a good and thorough musical mind-blowing? I will certainly keep an eye out for the next time Dead Meadow’s back in the Bay, because the kaleidoscopic imprint they left on my brain is too addictive to pass up.