Label Mexican Summer took over Red Hook’s cultural center Pioneer Works for a tenth anniversary homegrown all-day festival.
A Decade Deeper, this 10-hour, two stage music festival, celebrates the dynamic and innovative music that Mexican Summer has been supporting and releasing over the past ten years. The genres of bands on this already-legendary label range from ambient to rock to post-punk to pop to psych and everything in between. Whereas the musicians present at this massive event encompassed every facet possible.
Jess Williamson opened the evening delivering lilting, mystical music as she hopped from guitar to synth to light-up tambourine. They were followed by Arp, a multi-instrumental behemoth headed by Alexis Georgeopoulos, who delivered their psychedelia in a jam-session style set featuring alto and midi sax, respectively, and a drummer with an eclectic cast of props.
F. J. McMahon, a folk-rock singer/songwriter lost to the times whose first and only album Spirit of the Golden Juice was released in 1969 to no audience, but gained a cult following decades after its release. A Decade Deeper is McMahon’s first-ever New York City performance, and he was joined by indie psych band Quilt to play those songs dealing with memory and mystery.
The set-up for Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s set back on the small stage is symmetrical, with a guitarist and bassist bordering the reel-to-reel tape machine that acts as their drum machine. The effect is an onslaught on the ears, delivering the heavy high tones from the tape with lush guitar and basslines.
Next, Drugdealer brings the softness of summer back to the ever-chillier fall outside with ‘70s soft rock-inspired psych-pop. The steadily-unfolding “Suddenly” is performed, sans-Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering, as a fake-out to a “new song,” but they do deliver with the brand-new “Lost in my Dreams” after all.
Local Brooklyn outfit Pill kick the night up a notch with electric stage presence, an innovative use of the sax microphone (see image), and a dynamic use of genre-bending “no wave” music. Garage rockers Allah-Las – favorites around ListenSD – take it back down with melancholic, carefully-crafted songs and one of the most beautiful guitar tones of the evening. Part Time perform next with songs from their first two albums, 2011’s What Would You Say? and 2013’s PDA, released on Mexican Summer, rife with that era’s trademark shimmering bedroom-pop elements.
Opening on Portsmouth Sinfonia’s performance of Ricard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” the packed-out hall waiting for Ariel Pink are already in line for an interesting time, and such a time they were given. Even trapped behind his monster of a keyboard, Ariel Pink, as well as the rest of his band here, is a force to be reckoned with, from presence to music alike. Haphazard and high-energy, and offering paper masks of Connan Mockasin’s face up for wearing, an enthusiastic crowd devolves into a mosh pit that seems to encompass half the room by halfway through and carries through to the end.
Though most of the lighting and décor, including the projection, had been removed due to the time, brotherly duo Tonstartssbandht’s energy hadn’t diminished in the slightest, as they prepared to close out the small stage. Their noise rock guitarist, Andy White lunged about the stage to an enraptured crowd. Very-special-Swedish-guests Dungen close the evening with deep and rough psych, featuring building organ and a love for flute arrangements. At one point, they have to ask “Do you even know who we are as a special guest?” to which, admittedly, I had to say no, but I’m glad that was no longer the case.