Terrastock Sunday — live reports in retrospect

Okay! A chance to give my impressions for the remaining day of Terrastock — this will all be done via a slightly hazy memory already (sure it’s only two days and all but still), but I’ll try to keep it in the same spirit as the actual on-the-spot reports.

Sex Fist clench up

Sex Fist — replacing Team Brick at the last minute, this improv group was just that, with the attendant ups and downs that can happen in situations like that, but at its best turned out quite well. Joe Turner, most of Thought Forms, Jon from the Lothars and a few other folks who are not sitting in my memory at present jammed away on this, that and the other, from free-floating haze to driving attacks and back again. Started out the day rather well.

Rob Sharples sings

Rob Sharples — I admit, this set wasn’t one for me — fairly straightforward singer/songwriter stuff that was accomplished but not entirely my thing. After a bit I snuck over to the third stage to catch what turned out to be the end of R. Keenan Lawlor’s set — wish I had seen more! But most of it was during Sex Fist so what can you do?

Thee American Revolution

Thee American Revolution — RAWK. Okay, this one turned out to be a treat — a couple of days beforehand Chris B. and I had randomly made the acquaintance of Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo, and a more friendly and upbeat fellow I’ve rarely had the chance of meeting. Through him I met his lovely wife Marnie (I hope I have that right!), her brother Craig (again, hope I have that right!) and his wife in turn. All of them plus a couple of others made up Thee American Revolution, Rob’s new band. A fine combination of sensibilities, sartorially and sonically, brought together Rob’s ear for tunes with full-on end-of-sixties biker-freak-flag-rock and scored a bulls-eye. Very stylish, very fun! Looking forward to hearing the album.

Windy in the zone

The Kentucky Watercolor Society — this third stage performance by this hitherto unknown act was, in fact, Windy from Windy and Carl doing what I gather was a solo debut. Her new album I Hate People is quite wonderful, BTW, and this short but fascinating performance — Windy, two guitars, a lot of amplifiers and obsessive focus — was well-attended and received, bringing out the edge of that solo album in a slightly different form. Definitely NOT a typical Windy and Carl sound, for sure.

Insect Factory — happily I was able to catch most of this (no photos, though!) and while my impressions of it are not as clear as they should be, massive feedback sculptures and entrancing zone and more all made it catnip for everyone. Need to investigate more! Mike Tamburo, who had been doing a wonderful journeyman’s job on the third stage on his own and with others all weekend, popped in to help on dulcimer on the final number and it was a wonderful combination.

Pelt in the zone

Pelt — after a delay in Simply Saucer’s set due to the rain, Pelt settled in for what we all expected would be a heck of a show. This understates. An AMAZING set which rivals their exquisite Terrastock 2 show from ten years back, equally dedicated to performing one long extensive performance centered around gongs at the start and finish and various accordion/antique squeezeboxes for the extended midsection, not to mention violin, sitar (I think) and a variety of other instruments. A massive rhythmic drone piece that intertwined, expanded, and settled in indescribable fashion. The highlight of the day up to that point, rapturously received.

MV, EE and company on the third stage

Simply Saucer — thanks to the way the schedule worked as well as the weather, Simply Saucer were able to reappear and complete their set. I admit I only dipped in and out of this, but you could see that the band were loving life nicely and there was exuberance a-plenty. I ended up ducking in to see the MV+EE-led jam on the third stage, quite honestly the best thing I’ve yet heard from them! (EDIT — that’s the photo above.)

Jack, Pickers and streaks

Jack Rose and the Black Twig Pickers — the proximity of the Jack Rose set to the Pelt one led to natural assumptions that Jack would be sitting in with Pelt but such was not the case; however, two of Pelt are said Pickers, so there you go. Very much a spirited bluegrass-folk set straight up, with Rose’s guitar work and the fiddling (and fiddlesticks!) of the others, not to mention the singing, a lovely combination and good contrast to the sonic reach of the Pelt set.

The Entrance Band — now this I admit I skipped a bit (EDIT — thus, no photo). Last year I saw the Entrance Band at an Arthur benefit and I enjoyed it well enough but wasn’t fully sold, but it was clear that the group’s messiah/rock guru/sixties-into-seventies approach was going to fit in perfectly for a festival where bands like Plastic Crimewave and Thee American Revolution had already made a mark. And it did, but I spent my time making some initial goodbyes since I knew the rest of the night was going to be full as heck. And was it ever.

Windy, Carl and plants

Windy and Carl — well, what to say. I consider them friends of long standing now, and that could account for some personal bias. But to my mind, it’s not bias — they’re just THAT good. And in combination with Christy Romanick’s lovely visuals, which led to me taking heaven knows how many photographs from my position up front, the result was a festival highlight. Playing individual songs rather than a full extended piece as they’ve recently done at Terrastocks, thus previewing the new album a bit, it was one serene and sublime song after another, underscoring huge depths every step of the way. The concluding song “Champion,” with its extended ending comparable to Windy’s solo album’s focused aggression, knocked everyone for a further loop. All that and I was briefly namechecked on the stage, even if only as a reference to an in-joke! It was a pleasure and a privilege regardless.

Paik at maximum blur

Paik — I almost can’t say anything. I was chatting with the dudes a bit beforehand — my MBV shirt was the cause for a bit of conversation, we’d all seen the tours back in 1992 — and past experience taught me that it would be the loudest set of the day by a long shot, as well as the thickest-sounding and one of the most beautiful sounding. It was all that and more. Lights, fog machine, Ryan on drums looking possessed…where to start, where to end! At one point I leaned over to Jesse from Tanakh and said “It’s the Motorhead principle — everything louder than everything else.” And yet it still wasn’t the loudest set of the day — that honor went to…

Kawabata before everything went insane

Makoto Kawabata — six years back Acid Mothers Temple had concluded an insanely memorable final day at Terrastock 5 with a monster of a set and this time around Kawabata did that same thing solo. But anybody who thought this would be a gentle comedown from Paik was rapidly disabused — this included me. Having guested on many sets throughout the weekend, Kawabata wrapped it all up on his own, with two main parts to his performance: a solo guitar piece that became a near Stravinsky-like composition (I almost can’t describe it any other way) that then led into the second part in a quick two second change, “Pink Lady Lemonade.” This piece is one of the core parts of nearly every Acid Mothers Temple show, but on the solo front he rapidly turned the gentle core melody into a blistering, near-literally ear-piercing cascade of noise, feedback and further distortion that had a number of people seeking the best possible listening position by going outside and leaning against the wall. As Chris said to me after the set, “That one separated the living from the dead.” And as Phil McMullen said when he took the stage after the set to wrap everything up, “How can you follow that?”

You really couldn’t. And what a way to end.


4 Responses to “Terrastock Sunday — live reports in retrospect”

  1. yoyo Says:

    robert schneider from thee american revolution goes by robert; his wife’s name is marci.


  2. Ned Raggett Says:

    Ah, clarity! And thanks!

  3. Nick Says:

    Nice review of the fest, Ned. I am hoping we’re going to release a Christy Romanick record this year!

  4. Ned Raggett Says:

    Oh neat! And you posted on here right about when I was about to start editing it to include some photos…

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