The Temple of Boom, (which has to be one of the best names for a venue. Ever.), – neatly tucked away on a side street at the lower, less glamorous, side of Leeds – The whole venue – main stage, courtyard and recently opened ‘Meatlocker’ -has been taken over by leading psychonauts Karma Leeds for a full day of mind bending tunes, cosmic visuals, and all round good vibes.
Masters of the psychedelic light show, Melt Trip, had worked over the main room and turned it into a psychedelic jungle. Over the more permanent backdrop of dancing skeletons, projections and a full on liquid light show bathed the walls and stage, the scene further complemented with the odd mushroom here and there. Excuse the cliche, but it did look ‘far out’, and more than adequately set the scene for the days events. Loved the screen printed ‘shroom back cloth draped at the rear of their booth. [ “Darling, I think we need new curtains.”]
In stark contrast, over on the otherside of the courtyard ‘The Meatlocker’ – set aside as the days alternative stage – was a more stripped down affair. Coloured lights easily fill the cramped space, which is barely the size of a prison cell. It might have been small and tight, but it would prove to be the scene of some startling revelations.Steel City’s Two Skies kick of the days proceedings, and it doesn’t take long for Dan and co. to hit the cosmic overdrive button. We’ve seen Two Skies a fair few times and have never failed to be impressed. Dan’s impassioned vocals, combined with Oli’s motorik beats and Jamie’s casual, laid back approach to bass duties are a great start to the day. They immediately set the bar and expectations high, especially for the close of the set where we see a band totally succumb to their music and genuinely trip out before our eye’s. Follow that!
GALLERY: click any pic to see full size [Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”25″ gal_title=”KARMA: Two Skies”]
One man, a guitar, a host of effects pedals. Rhys Bloodjoy loops, layers and builds his sound from the ground up to create an experience that gradually grows in intensity. Dark, and moody in a rather exquisite, hypnotic way. The singer-songwriter is a rare talent. Others have called him a lo-fi genius. Don’t be fooled by this.It’s a technically wonderful set that if I was to sum up in one word, it would have to be spellbinding.
GALLERY: click any pic to see full size [Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”26″ gal_title=”KARMA: Bloodjoy”]
Wild Birds Of Britain play a quintessential psych set. The live setting is obviously their natural habitat, and if you let self go with the flow of their tunes – and many do – Wild Birds easily pick you up and whisk you off on a journey. Heady stuff that gradually and subtly builds to a full on wigged out crescendo.
GALLERY: click any pic to see full size [Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”27″ gal_title=”KARMA: Wild Birds of Britain”]
WILD BIRDS OF BRITAIN on FACEBOOK
Hull four piece, Vulgarians, , have been gigging extensively since last we saw them and we were eager to see how they’d progressed. We weren’t disappointed. Despite the bands frustration at the claustrophobic setting, and a drumkit that just wouldn’t remain seated, they put out a top set. Up front it’s easy to see how the increased exposure has added swagger to an already confident band. Lead singer Ryan easily takes command of the stage. Guitarist Tom and Jodie – quite possibly one of the most frenetic bass players around – thrash out the set buried behind their hair. Behind them – and despite the issue with the wandering kit – drummer, Connor, ensures that the band complete their stated mission of wanting to excite people as a live band. Powerful stuff!
GALLERY: just click any image to see full size. [Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”23″ gal_title=”KARMA:Vulgarians”]
Not sure if they’d had their Chemicals for Breakfast this morning, but Psyence are certainly a band hell bent on expanding the mind. Heavy, cleverly executed effects, captivating vocals and some utter balls out fret board madness, all combines to add yet another high caliber set to the days line up. It’s all good, but today’s rendition of ‘Zebra’ is one of the finest tracks of the day. I turned to someone who was seeing them for the first time, and they summed them up perfectly “Out of this world!”.
GALLERY: click any pic to see full size[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”28″ gal_title=”KARMA: Psyence”]
There’s some unbelievably good music coming off the banks of the Humber at the moment, not least The Black Delta Movement. BDM have been round a while now, and have graced some of the finest venues around – including an outstanding support slot for the Mary Chain when they hit Leeds earlier in the year. Always a flat out performance, today is no exception. It’s obvious that these guys enjoy what they do and they do it so well. There’s some chemistry at play between the boys from Hull.four elements that combine to give some of the hottest, psyched up garage rock n roll around. Latest offering, ‘The Trip’ is a damn fine cover, but it’s their own material that shines brightly – ‘Butterfly’,with its cleverly worked extract from ‘The End’, is as impressive as ever. As an added bonus the set ends with the frontman taking on his alter ego as “Marvelous Matt the Guitar Balancing Emprasario.” It’s a bit of fun that by no means detracts away from how seriously good this band are.
GALLERY: click any pic to see full size[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”29″ gal_title=”KARMA: Black Delta Mvmnt”]
The Blackrays, see themselves more as a project than a band. Fronted by Rhys Bloodjoy, with Oli from Two Skies on drums, former Underground Youth, David on lead, J.P. on bass, and with a special appearance from Helicon’s Gary H. they’ve been referred to as a kind of super-group of sorts. Whatever they are, when they get together there are some serious forces at work. Black hooded, Bloodjoy is a natural front man, and alongside guitarist Mapson’s Warholian appearance, there’s more than just a hint that we’re about to go underground. From the off the untamed, raw energy of the band, is successfully channeled to deliver a dark and brooding, mind warping set. It was only right that such a set should have a dramatic ending, and we get one. People stare in awe and are physically stunned to see Gary H. commit an act of sacrilege as he attacks the effects pedals with the butt end of his Rickenbacker, raises it above his head and feigns an attempt to obliterate everything in it’s path (- don’t worry I checked with him later and no real harms been done.).It is a close call,but without doubt this is the set of the day, an original, and truly inspiring performance.
The Mushroom Club had traveled a fair distance to take part in Karma, which is testament to both themselves and the event. Head ‘shroom, Paul Mcabe – who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Bobby Gillespie – spends the set seated, yet not quite hidden behind his keyboardist, as he guides us through his tripped out tunes and tales. There’s a high quality, trashy feel to their stuff that, despite the contemporary setting, would work perfectly as the soundtrack to any modern day pranksters road trip.
Manchester band The Watchmakers were a new one to us. But after today they are firmly on our radar as a band to keep an eye on. Coming from the City that spawned so many good bands, they seem to have taken all the best elements of their predecessors, stuck them in a mixing pot and poured them into a mould all of their own. At certain points the guitar takes on a sitar like effect taking everything to a higher cosmic level. Potent stuff. My mate, who had turned up late, and with a reputation for been a tight wad, claimed it was worth the entry fee for this band alone. You don’t know him, but I can assure you that is a fine an accolade as any out there.
Unfortunately, due to the inadequacies of the local transport system we had to leave. This meant we missed Gnod, and the Cult of Dom Keller. Which was a an absolute crying shame. But, it had been a great day.
This was the third all dayer Karma Leeds have arranged, the first one been only a mere 11 months ago, and once again they succeeded in bringing together an unbelievably strong line up, consisting of some of the best loved psych bands around, as well as introducing us to some outstanding alternative acts. Add to that a group of like, and very open, minded people assembled in a venue that’s just far enough off the beaten track, and you get a heady mix that made it a day that many will remember for a long time to come.
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