Just as The Flaming Lips were wrapping up their newly darkened space-age psych show opening for The Black Keys down at Ye Olde Bridgestone Arena, we found ourselves in for an entirely different sort of freakout on Cannery Row as Goat — a Swedish band of witch doctors playing world music twisted around guitar riffs — tore the roof off The High Watt.
We arrived on the scene just as local dudes Bows and Arrows were finishing up their set of melodic indie rock. It was a nice surprise, seeing as how we had no idea they were on the bill, but we would've liked to have caught more than two songs. Bows and Arrows do a solid job of mixing heavy distortion with pop melodies, though it seemed like they were leaning more on the former Friday night, likely in order to fit in with their more foreboding following acts.
Holy Wave, part of Austin's formidable modern psych scene, was up next. While we can't say that we're the biggest psychedelic rock fans on the planet, we dig the elaborate lengths psych bands go to in order to engage their key demographic of stoners. Where else will you find a band that travels with their own overhead projector guy, doing live visuals using liquid-filled plastic? Not at a Tullycraft show, that's for damn sure. Holy Wave goes a bit dronier live than on their more shoegaze-inspired debut, Evil Hits, occupying every space of the room with wailing guitar and synth noise. It was cool, but again, something we don't feel like we could fully appreciate.
And then there was Goat.
Saying Goat is a spectacle is like saying the ocean is damp. Completely masked and anonymous, the members slowly built up “Diarabi,” the first track from last year's World Music, before tearing it down as their whirling dervish frontwomen (in as much as an anonymous psych band can have frontwomen) whipped around, bashing tambourines and infecting even the most casual psych fan (read: us) with the kind of glee that we're always hoping to feel when watching live music. It was exciting and crazy, something that we've literally never seen before. Every Goat song sounds like it could be the best track off a long lost Afro-beat rock record, rerecorded by gypsies and hidden in the back of Western Europe's weirdest record stores.
We can admit that we would've been entertained by the onstage craziness for a while, but the brilliance of the music made Goat one of the most memorable shows we've been to in a long time. If there is any justice in the world, we'll see them again around this time next year, freaking everybody the fuck out in a tent at Bonnaroo.