By Jason Berry and Amanda Chaudhary
L’Shana Tova! To start the new year off in a sweet way, we headed down to The Independent on Divisadero in San Francisco to check out Moira Scar and Psychic TV. The Independent, as we soon learned, is housed on the site of the former Kennel Club. We were quite pleased to run into quite a few friends amongst the audience from various communities, including the local experimental and electronic music scenes, and Kearny Street Workshop.
First up was Moira Scar. We saw them about a year ago, and they have continued their musical growth into something most weird and wonderful. The always visually captivating group is headed by Roxy Monoxide (guitar, saxophone, vocals) and LuLu Gamma Ray (synth, vocals), together with Monica Ramos and Aimee Schott on bass and drums, respectively.
With a sound that hearkened back, to these reporters at least, to the great synth-punk bands of yesterday – Tubeway Army, leavened with a dash of 45 Grave – we enjoyed their energetic set. Some elements of spiky, Crimson-style prog seemed to be peeking into their new sound. We counted a 15-beat riff (subdivided 4, 3, 4, 4) and quite liked the way tenor saxophone worked in their sound. Did we mention that the band’s presentation and stagecraft were top-notch? We’ll be keeping an ear out for more of this group.
After a brief intermission, Psychic TV took to the stage.
We will admit a bit of uncertainty on our behalf on how this would turn out. The last time we saw PTV, in the late 90s shortly after the release of Trip Reset, they were, shall we say, less-than-inspired, and certainly unrehearsed. Genesis P-Orridge disbanded the group shortly thereafter for a time. This was the new, improved PTV we saw, or PTV3 as they are now billing themselves. Just as each edition of the band is driven along by the primary composer and musical director (Alex Ferguson, Fred Giannelli, Larry Thrasher), this edition is piloted by drummer and graphic designer Edly O’Dowd. His aesthetic is something new for PTV; gone are the rambling improvisations and sound collages of days past, replaced with a tight, solid band sound. The group focused on material from the recently-reissued albums A Pagan Day and Allegory and Self, starting with a guitar-and-voice rendition of the classic tune “Translucent Carriages”, originally by Pearls Before Swine, before moving onto “She Was Surprised / New Sexuality”, “Just Like Arcadia”, and others. Genesis stuck close to the script, reading the lyrics from a music stand.
The band delivered, and the crowd loved it! We headed back to CatSynth HQ satisfied and exhausted, still worn out from our recent return from NYC. But, more about that soon….