Review: Holly Hunt, Mono at the Middle East Downstairs 6-13-2015

Sign

I took the T on this fairly warm night into Central Square for a rare (at least for me) show at Middle East downstairs. It’s always kind of weird to be there since most of the shows I go to are at the upstairs. Once I got inside, Holly Hunt had just started, so I ordered a Harpoon UFO White and found a spot to watch the band.

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Holly Hunt

Miami’s Holly Hunt are Beatriz Monteavaro on drums and Gavin Perry on guitar and the two of them make a lot of very loud noise. With a heaviness that builds up into a slow wall of guitar and drums without any lyrics, they never stopped between songs. This band was intense!

After their set, I ended up getting a Sam Adams Lager, after the bartender, who was really cool, suggested I might not care for the Harpoon Dark (which I’ve had before, but couldn’t remember if I liked it). He gave me a sample and was right. At this point, a most of the crowd made their way to the front of the stage as Mono were getting set up.

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Mono

I first saw Mono, who are on tour from Japan, at Austin Psych Fest last year and really liked them. As the band came out to a cheering crowd, they took their places and began to play. Starting out slowly and building up to at times, a frenzy of sound, there was a very cinematic feel to the music. In fact, the air vent above me, combined with some of the more ethereal tinged music, helped to set the mood for the night. I don’t think there was a single person that wasn’t fully mesmerized by the music.

After Mono finished, there was a really long line at the merch table in the back. Since the night ended pretty early, I made a pit stop in Harvard Square for some of my beloved Tasty Burger (I highly recommend the Big Tasty with bacon) for some food. This was an amazing night of really cool music and Holly Hunt and Mono are both amazing live bands that I would definitely recommend seeing if you have the chance.

Review: Fedavees, Soft Eyes, Holy Wave, The Televibes at the Middle East Upstairs 5-24-2015

This was a tough night to decide on a show to go to, since there was a lot going on around the area, not to mention it was Boston Calling weekend. I had really wanted to see to Holy Wave, so I made my way to the Middle East Upstairs and found a good spot to see the Fedavees, who had just taken the stage.

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Fedavees

I have seen the Fedavees a couple of times now, but damn they were on fire tonight! With members of Creaturos filling in, the whole band just sounded amazing with their psych-fuzz sound. It was an energetic way to start the show. After they finished, it was time to grab a Harpoon UFO for my first drink of the night.

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Soft Eyes

New Hampshire’s Soft Eyes are a band I wasn’t all that familiar with. Switching between different instruments, including sleigh bells and a flute, they played what could be best described as jammy psychedlia. I was pleasantly surprised and really got into it.

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Holy Wave

It was getting kind of hot, so I ordered a Sam Adams Lager and waited for Holy Wave to set up. At this point, there was a pretty decent sized crowd in the upstairs. I first saw Holy Wave at Levitation 2015 aka Austin Psych Fest a few weeks ago, although I think I preferred seeing them in this much smaller venue. With strobe lights blazing and a retro pop-psych kind of vibe, this Texas band, put on an impressive show.

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The Televibes

This was an EP release show for The Televibes, and they definitely brought it. They just straight up rocked a surf and garage rock filled set, while managing to get the few people that were left dancing and enjoying themselves.

After almost skipping this show, I’m glad that I ended up going to it. All of the bands were amazing, I met a couple of new people, and this was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in a while.

Review: U4IA, SUNRAM, Ancient River at the Lilypad in Cambridge, MA 5-30-2015

This show was at the Lilypad in Inman Square, which is a place the T doesn’t go to, so I ended up having to drive there (and getting a little lost on the way). I was worried about parking, but there was a lot behind the club which was free after 10pm, and with this being a late show…it all worked out. I stood outside with several other people who were waiting for a while. I guess the earlier show ended late and that pushed things back a bit. I finally went inside and noticed this place was small. Like, really, really small, but that’s ok, it makes for a more intimate show.

I went to the tiny bar that is situated in the front window and got a Jack’s Abby Hopponius Union as U4IA, who replaced the original openers Worthless started to play.

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U4IA

I couldn’t find any information on U4IA through a Google and Facebook search, other than a video from a show he played at Out of the Blue Too Gallery. Surrounded by instruments from the other bands, he wailed on the guitar and occasionally played a keyboard as the drum machine did it’s thing, while also making use of loops. At one point, the very cute and very friendly little dog (Annie as I was informed) that lives upstairs from the Lilypad, decided to take a walk around the stage while U4IA was playing, as well as gave smiles to everyone in the place. It was insanely cute!

I went back to the bar for another beer and being undecided, the bartender, who was awesome by the way, suggested something that had an 11% alcohol content. Having driven there, I had to decline but ended up with his other suggestion of something with a lower content, the Lagunitas IPA, which is always a good choice.

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SUNRAM

SUNRAM is a side project by some of the members of local psych band Ghost Box Orchestra. From what I gather, this was their first show in a long time. Taking turns on different instruments at times, their set was full of instrumental droning and dark psych rock goodness. It seemed to be pretty short, but it was great!

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Ancient River

Up next were Ancient River, a band I got into a few months ago when I heard the amazing first track “This Is The Time” off of their just released Keeper of the Dawn (an album I’m currently mildly obsessed with). For some reason I thought there was more than two people in this band, which was really only a drummer and guitarist. They created both guitar and vocal loops while playing, which gave the illusion of there being more people in the band. At times, the drummer took out a small keyboard and would play that. Unfortunately their set was also really short, which I’m guessing was because of the late start and 1am closing time.

Although there wasn’t much of a crowd left by the end of the night, I got to meet a some new people and the bands were all amazing. The Lilypad is a pretty cool little spot to check out a show, with a good selection of craft beers on tap and I’ll definitely be going back there again.

Review: Flavor Crystals, Chui Wan, Magic Shoppe at Club Bohemia 5-14-2015

I was still getting over a cold or allergies or the plague from being in Austin for the last week, but I really wanted to see this show. So, despite my nagging cough, I took a short ride on the T to Central Square and the Cantab Lounge, which has a basement space known as Club Bohemia. This was my first time at Club Bohemia and man, is this room small. It kind of felt like I was in someone’s basement for a house show or something. I had gotten there too late to see Guillermo Sexo, but Flavor Crystals had just gone on as I arrived, so I grabbed a Long Trail IPA and found a spot close to the stage.

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Flavor Crystals

Minneapolis’ Flavor Crystals are a band I first saw in Austin at the kickoff party for Austin Psych Fest in 2013. With a shoegaze, bordering on space rock sound, the band seemed to be having a great time playing. Singer/guitarist Josh Richardson was really getting into it moving all over the stage. It’s great when you can just tell a band loves playing and doesn’t want to stop and I didn’t want them to stop.

I ordered another Long Trail IPA and ran into a coworker who was at the show. We chatted for a bit as Chui Wan were getting ready to go on.

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Chui Wan

I just saw Chui Wan a few days ago at Levitation 2015 (aka Austin Psych Fest) and they played an amazing set there. It was even cooler seeing them play this very small room though. This band from Beijing has been getting a lot of buzz lately and rightfully so. Their shows are absolutely amazing, ranging from experimental, drone, and psychedelia, using everything from drum pads, keyboards, and even a violin at times. There was a pretty good size crowd, that mostly cleared out after their set.

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Magic Shoppe

Magic Shoppe were up next. They were down a guitar player so their set was kind of short, but they still rocked through their psychedelic tinged rock set. Man they were fun!

I was still on a high from being in Austin, and this was my 6th show in 9 days, so it was really cool to keep that going. I had a lot of fun on this night and even chatted with Josh from Flavor Crystals for a while (as well as picked up a t-shirt) before heading out to catch one of the last trains of the night.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 3 5-04-2014

It’s the final day of the Austin Psych Fest and my dust filled lungs are killing me, but it’s still not as bad as last years terrible allergies that had me leaving Austin with a severe 2 week case of laryngitis. I was in no rush to get to the festival as there wasn’t really anyone I wanted to see until around 5pm, so I killed time at the nearby Starbucks (which has a great view of the Austin skyline) for a while. I finally made my way to the shuttle stop where there were a few others waiting and we chatted about the bands from the previous two days. The shuttle ride was awesome with the driver blasting the Stone Roses and the Warlocks amongst others, which included a sing along by those of us on the bus. It was a fun way to bond with some other fans!

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Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

I got to the festival just in time to catch the last two songs from shoegazers Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, who were playing to an overflow of people at the tent. These guys were really good and I wished I had caught more of their set.

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Christian Bland and the Revelators

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Kikagaku Moyo

From there, I went over to check out the Reverberation Stage where Christian Bland and the Revelators were playing. The sun was a little too bright and beating down on me, so I made my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater and watched Kikagaku Moyo for a bit. They featured a guy jamming on a sitar and the music was pretty trippy.

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Secret Colours

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Toy

I went back to the Levitation Tent and to see Secret Colours for a little while, then wandered around with yet another drink until Toy went on. I wasn’t familiar with them before the festival, but I wanted to check them out based on a conversation I had with some people on the shuttle the day before, and I was glad I did! These guys (and girl) absolutely blew away everyone in the tent and for me, it was the best set of the day, perhaps the weekend. I also managed to get a setlist, but couldn’t find any members to sign it. Either way, I’ll end up framing it with a vinyl copy of their newest album Join The Dots. My night was made!

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Sleepy Sun

As I left the tent, Mikal Cronin was playing on the main stage and I stayed for a couple of songs, but I really wanted to see Sleepy Sun down at the river stage. Sleepy Sun were kind of trippy and loud, with really cool visuals projected onto the trees across the river behind them. There was definitely an awesome atmosphere going on down there.

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Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band

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The War On Drugs

I went back to the tent to catch Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio’s other project, Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band. Although I’m not too into TV On The Radio, I was really feeling their hypnotic sound, which in turn, created a mood that fit in with the night. After they finished their set, I went over to the main stage to see The War On Drugs. These guys killed it, with a very Pink Floyd sound at times. I really enjoyed this set.

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Bo Ningen

I made my way back to the tent and stumbled on Japanese noise-psych band, Bo Ningen. They made a *lot* of noise, including an 18 minute jam that blew everyone away with it’s screeching loudness. It was a pretty cool experience and I don’t think anyone was disappointed with what they just witnessed. By the time Bo Ningen were done, Loop had taken the main stage. A lot of people I chatted with over the weekend were looking forward to this band. I caught a couple of songs then called it a night since I was getting tired. Even though it was killing me to leave, I made my way back to the shuttle stop for the last time of Austin Psych Fest 7.

This was by far the best time I have ever had at a festival. I loved every single minute of it (and yes…even the choking dust)! It was 4 days of good food, friendly people, and some really amazing bands. I am already looking forward to going back in 2015 for Austin Psych Fest 8!

Here are a few random shots from around the festival grounds, enjoy!

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Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 2 5-03-2014

After a few hours of sleep and a trip to the Starbucks next door for some much needed caffeine, I left a little later than planned for the second day of Austin Pysch Fest. I went over to the shuttle pickup spot and ended up chatting with a few people which was fun. Once we arrived at Carson Creek Ranch, Austin’s own Pure X were playing on the main stage.

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Pure X

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This guy had a pretty sweet Pee-wee Herman patch at Pure X’s set

Pure X were one of the bands I really wanted to see and they did not disappoint with their slow and hazy sound on the Reverberation Stage. There was a fairly small crowd trying to huddle in the shadow of the stage to escape the bright sun.

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Zombie Zombie

Next, I caught Zombie Zombie in the Levitation Tent. The band consisted of 2 drummers and a guy playing some synths. They were pretty experimental sounding, reminding me of some of the bands I used to see in Providence at AS220. After their set, I went over to get a Sailor Jerry and ginger brew, which was pretty damn refreshing on this very hot day.

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Jacco Gardner

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Morgan Delt

Jacco Gardner was playing down at the Elevation Amphitheater. I stuck around for his mellow set for a few minutes before moving on. I ended up back at the main stage for a while to see Morgan Delt. There was lots of reverb and it was pretty good.

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Bardo Pond

Back down to the river where I grabbed another drink and relaxed for a bit as I waited for Bardo Pond to go on. There was a flute being played along with the slow, droney indie rock sounds, which the really big crowd was loving. A lot of people in hammocks down by the river seemed to be chilling out and enjoying the atmosphere of music, water, and shade.

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Bombino

At this point, my phone needed to be charged (damn you iPhone and your constant battery drain!) so I hit up the only open spot for a 30 pin connector on the solar charging station. I have to say that if it takes 30 minutes for a phone to be charged 3%, the technology isn’t going to catch on. Phone went back to airplane mode for most of the rest of the day. While chatting with others waiting for their phones to charge, I saw most of Bombino’s pretty loud and blues rock set.

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Octopus Project

I gave up on the charger and made my way over to the tent to get out of the setting, but still bright sun for a while. A band called Octopus Project were playing to a huge crowd that overflowed out of the tent, probably because they were also from Austin. They had an electronic sound with really heavy bass. It was awesome!

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Temples

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Mono

Next were Temples on the Reverberation Stage, where a huge crowd had gathered. I wasn’t really feeling it too much, so I went to see what was going on in the tent. Mono was playing to a very small and intimate crowd, probably due to Temples being on the other stage. Mono’s music was very cinematic that would get noisy at times. I was really digging it.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

From there, back to the main stage where Unknown Mortal Orchestra were now playing. I made my way up front and got super close to the stage, so close in fact that the bass was literally shaking my clothes. At one point there was a crazy sort of drum solo and the band totally killed it. This was for me an unexpected and very enjoyable set, especially since I wasn’t all that familiar with their stuff.

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Medicine

I had almost forgotten that Medicine were playing, so I went back to the tent. This band is probably best known for the song “Time Baby III” from The Crow soundtrack as well as an appearance in that film. They sounded great and had more than a few diehard fans in the audience. At one point the band was told that they had to end their set and called it bullshit, but with the crowd chanting “one more song!”, they came back out and did one more. The band seemed genuinely pissed off that they had to stop playing, especially since they really seemed to be having a good time on stage, which was evident by singer Beth Thompson’s non stop dancing.

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Acid Mothers Temple selling their merch

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Acid Mothers Temple

Back to the river stage where Acid Mothers Temple were busy lighting their instruments on fire and sounding amazing. Playing in near darkness with just a hint of blue lighting and cool projections on the trees behind them, the band was creating a frenzy of noise. This was simply amazing and they may have won the night because of the cool ass fire on the guitar and cymbals. These guys also get mad props for being real and selling their merch old school out of trunks while taking pictures with fans. Admittedly I couldn’t get into them last year when they played in the tent, but maybe it was the atmosphere down at the river this year that seemed more fitting. Either way, I loved it!

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks were playing in the tent. The people who were there seemed really into them, and they were ok, just not my thing. From there I went over to the main stage for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre were on the main stage. I stuck around for a couple of songs then decided to call it a night as I was getting tired and a few days of alcohol, junky food, dust, and lack of sleep were beginning to catch up to me. Once again, the shuttles were a clusterfuck. You’d think that they would have it figured out by now, but that might be asking too much. Two downtown shuttles came buy as a large group of us still waited for a hotel shuttle. People were really getting pissed off about this. When it finally arrived, people calmed down and were just happy to be able to go back to their hotels and/or the nearby Waffle House. Now, to try to get some sleep before the 3rd and final day.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 1 5-02-2014

Austin Psych Fest 7 Sign

I didn’t get much sleep but I was ready for the first day of Austin Psych Fest! This is my second year going and it’s a little easier since I have a better idea of what to expect. The new shuttle bus stop was located about a block from my hotel, between the Hampton Inn and Microtel. I ended up chatting with a couple of people who were also waiting and found out that we had missed the shuttle by 5 minutes. About 25 minutes later the bus finally arrived to pick up the now sizable crowd and take us to Carson Creek Ranch. I always love this part, because everyone is excited, very friendly, and talkative (this would never happen in Boston).

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

We finally arrived at Carson Creek Ranch where there was a bit of a line to get in, but once through the gates, the layout was pretty much the same as last year, with the exception of a fenced off area on the side of the main stage for those who opted for the deluxe ticket upgrade. Honestly, I didn’t see anything that made it worth $100 extra other than maybe nicer bathrooms. As I walked by the main stage, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were playing and I watched them for a couple of songs before making my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater to see Quilt.

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Quilt

Quilt are a band from Boston, that strangely, I haven’t had a chance to see yet, but today I did and they were great! They played a pretty mellow indie rock set that went nicely with the afternoon and the river behind them. By the end of their set, I was pretty hungry, so I found some food in the form of pulled pork on Texas toast which was amazing!

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Terakaft

While eating, a guy sitting across me and a new friend was telling us about Terakaft, so we made our way down to the river stage to see them. This band is from Mali, Africa. It is hard not to draw comparisons to last year’s Psych Fest headliners Tinariwen. Their sound is similar with Middle Eastern influences. A lot of people walked away impressed.

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Aqua Nebula Oscillator

I made my way over to the Elevation Tent for the first time of the day and caught Aqua Nebula Oscillator. who were playing some crazy music.

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Graveyard

From there, I went back to the main stage to see Graveyard, who had a bluesy, psych rock sound. I was really liking this band and it seemed a lot of other people did too, since I heard a lot of talking about these guys and how much they enjoyed them.

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White Hills

I went back to the Levitation Tent and watched White Hills. They were really awesome psych rock and had a pretty good sized crowd in the tent to see them.

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Black Lips

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Peaking Lights

As the sun was going down, the Black Lips were on the Reverberation Stage. I really like these guys, but wasn’t really feeling it at this point, so I wandered around some more. I ended up at the really dark Elevation Amphitheater to watch Peaking Lights‘s really, really visual set. By that, I mean the images projected onto the trees behind the stage were really cool and trippy. This is always one of the best places to be at night.

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Kadavar

I made my way back to the Levitation Tent for Kadavar, who totally blew me and the rest of the large crowd away! In fact, this was probably one of the best sets of the day. Everyone (including a random guy in front of me at the Frank’s Hot Dogs stand) were talking about them. Kadavar were like hair metal with a tinge of the psych sound. They completely rocked the tent!

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The Zombies

I grabbed what would be my first beer of the day (after multiple vodka based drinks with names that were embarrassing to say out loud), a Newcastle Brown and waited near the main stage for this year’s classic psych band…The Zombies. The Zombies sounded really tight and lead singer Colin Blunstone’s voice sounded practically the same as it did in the 60’s. They did “Time of the Season” and ended with “She’s Not There”, both of which sounded great through the loud sound system! Their set seemed kind of short though.

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La Femme

I went back to the tent because I wanted to see La Femme, who were already playing. This French band completely had the crowd sucked in with a very high energy set. Lots of dancing on stage, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. One band member handed the keyboard to the crowd then proceeded to stand on it, surfing through the crowd. This band’s live show is really something to see! Another of my favorite sets of the day.

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The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols were on next. Despite multiple attempts in the past, I never had a chance to see them live, but now I have and they were amazing! At one point, Anton Newcombe and Matt from Brian Jonestown Massacre came out to sing “Oh Lord“. This totally surprised the crowd (and if you have ever seen the Dig! documentary, you know why). I was totally blown away!

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Brown Sabbath

I went back to the tent to see Brown Sabbath, who are actually a Latin band from Austin called Brownout, who did some funky Black Sabbath covers. They were a last minute replacement for Oneohtrix Point Never, who had to cancel due to an injury. Songs like “Warpigs” and “Iron Man”sounded really cool all funked out with a horn section that had the crowd dancing and it was amazing!

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels were on next and I caught a little bit of their set. but It had been a very long day. I left during their set to catch the shuttle back to the hotel for some much needed sleep and to take on day 2!


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