Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.
Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers
March 24, 2011
@ Bottom Of The Hill
Better than: Two
hours inside a lava lamp.
Talk of yet another storm threatening to firehose the city
deterred few from this Thursday night psychedelic hoedown at the foot of
Potrero Hill. When I arrived, most of the floor-space inside the BoTH was already crammed with
a fresh haul of kids getting their pre-weekend Nick and Norah on. Only with
noticeably longer hair than usual, and the crunk-struck expression you see on
people about ten minutes past toking up a fierce indica buzz. It was like
walking into a funhouse made of so many rejuvenating mirrors.
Doors were at 9:30 and Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers didn't tarry. Brooklynites deep into a bone-crushing national tour supporting their Teenage and Torture debut full-length, this unassuming and businesslike quartet lashed into a too-brief set of dense, ultra-loud songs veering expertly from punk to experimental to hippie boogie. This expertise is no mere genre-juggling, but a determination to move audiences by every means necessary. Ray's axe is a harmonium from which she caresses elegant drones, and her voice leaps from musky purr to full-throated catamount rage in split-instants. The band takes advantage of her superb gift by dropping ear-rattling furioso punk bits into the melodic stew. At one point, the singer began to complain of "serious period cramps" before confiding "If you wanna get over PMS, play in a rock 'n roll band." Cheers followed them off.
The wait was short and the room filled to close to maximum capacity as the headliners plugged in. Started as a recording collective in 1996 by Osaka-born guitarist Kawabata Makoto, The Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. is less a band and more Radio Dial of the Gods, channeling prog, blues, psych, several flavors of folk, and massive blocks of musique concrète with a flick of the virtuosic wrist. More than many other purveyor of fine psychedelia, AMT's sound has an organic dimension: as one sonic texture after another rolled out, I could feel such thrilling non-musicalites as swarms of locusts droning overhead or the bone-rattle of a passing freight train. As a tastefully arranged series of body-blows, this stuff has few peers, and soon the crowd was writhing and flopping to it. Two blonde girls dancing at my right elbow while my photog was taking pics over my left shoulder squirmed adhesively before one yelped "You grabbed my tit! That's not nice!"
It was a little past midnight when Makoto began to abuse his guitar, choking and cuffing and battering the thing around like the cop in Reservoir Dogs. Finally he strode offstage and the set abruptly ended. There was scant demonstration for an encore and none was offered. No one looked dissatisfied and few looked to have any thoughts of immediate speech.
Overheard: Shilpa Ray: "Last song! This one is about STDs. Why not?"