, attached to 2015-08-22

Review by relax_

relax_ I wanted to talk about the late night set independent of the other sets, because it was like a dream (within a dream), and so compartmentalized in my mind as such. After the 3rd set ended, we made our way to the “drive-in”. We found a good spot to the right of the screen near the projection tower. Empty spaces began to fill in around us as our anticipation grew. Even so, I joked, “meanwhile, back at the LABORATORY”, all at once convinced that the set would take place on the big screen, and hesitant to dismiss plans of running back to the Lab just in case. At some point, I could see movement behind the screen. In spots where the light hit the screen just right, figures were appearing. I announced to my beau and others around me that I saw the glint of guitars and cymbals. We readied ourselves.

The marquee above the screen (MAGNABALL) flickered – the screen’s image changed to announce “And Now…It’s Showtime!” The fake cars in front of the screen billowed with smoke. Odd chimes, screams, and rumblings could be heard. Minutes later, the intro graphic melted into a roving image of space and our journey commenced with floating into the unknown.

The serene sounds of flowing water, chimes, and breezes (whooshing), mixed with a gentle rhythm from Fishman and ambient tones from Trey, Mike, and Page began the set. Visually, thousands of pixels of light (fractals) layered the space scene. As they shifted and danced about, I couldn’t help thinking “this is what the music looks like!” It can pulsate, ripple, coalesce and divide simultaneously. In their singularities, they moved as one, synchronized with the sound vibrations. The “morphing pixels” of light wrapped around band members, outlining each for a moment or so. Trey’s guitar wailed like a siren with long, wavering chords, matched by Page on his Yamaha. A mass of binaural beats blanketed our ears.

Around 15:40 (LP release), bass and drums shifted the jam from calm to slightly crazed. Darker tones rose to the forefront, mixed with manic, clashing sound effects and voices. The sound ebbed slightly back into a pensive ambiance before a more insistent rhythm emerged from Fishman just before 17:30. Layered over the previous images, fissures of light appeared on the screen, like neurological flashes in the brain, or elongated nebulae. A moody, acid rock jam with choppy rifts, deep bass, and crashing drums filled the air. The marquee lights swelled with the music and the spotlights above snaked through the sky. The graphics switched to droplets (or molecules) bouncing across the screen, soon accented by the pixels as Fishman and Trey reached for a parallel musical theme around 22:25. A voice howled as the tempo and straitjacket continued to tighten. Page glided effortlessly over his keys, building a sense of urgency and drama.

There were quite a few people dancing around me, their kinetic energy mimicking the screen, but I couldn’t. I felt compelled to stand still and witness, inexplicably cocooned in the moment. So, I cleared my mind and let the surreality of the music, visuals, and people wash over and through me. The groove settled down into a funky, medium-paced beat at 23:45 (with Page leading the charge on his wurlitzer), but held on to its wicked undertones with vocal screams, clanging church bells and other sound effects intertwined. A staccato, metal bassline punched through the jam (24:30) further adding to the trepid dynamics and atmosphere. The visuals yielded to disarray, warping and bleeding into a barely discernible view of the band, finally dissolving into pulsating lava and static.

A slow, thunderous heartbeat began at 27:10 accented by percussive, echoing guitar scratches and alien-esque pedal effects by Mike. A fiery ball of light appeared on the right side of the screen. It moved to the center as the camera “zoomed” inward. Here, we got our clearest view of the band (at the core) encompassed in light, shooting arcs of energy outward, (“inside your fuego”, ha). A “Phishy” tribal vocal jam, complete with “Martian microphone”, proceeded on top of deep, humming tones at 30:00. After which, thumping bass and buzzing electrical noises rang throughout the focused rhythm as the screen lead us back into space.

More textural sounds emerged and sheets of color dragged across the screen collapsing into hazy images of the band. The tremble of Page’s theremin could be heard around 34:00. Inside the distorted sounds, a playful bass line surfaced (36:30) and a more accessible (less tense) jam took flight. At 41:40 a celebratory vocal jam began with utilization of both the Martian voice and Page’s talk box. A change at 43:25 introduced a joyous, bouncy tempo while wisps of light painted the screen. The “heartbeat” returned at 46:05 as a large moon-like image traversed the screen. As it moved from view, four similar objects appeared forming a static image, drenched in quivering space winds. The music took a quick look back at our journey (like trying to recall a fever dream upon awakening) and dissolved into more vocal expressions and sound effects before fading into a curious melody at 50:00, ending the set in a bright flair of notes and colors.

When it was over, I had the feeling of witnessing the after effect of the universe’s big bang. That underlying force, like water, was hard, soft, and flowing with both light and dark energy. The chaos, atomic gnashing, and speed of expansion – the reach (spinning) into the unknown, intense and resolute…it was ALL…at once, a singular sound careening off of our atoms that continued to resonate as we walked quietly back to our resting places.


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