Philly Bands Creepoid and Ecstatic Vision Explode Genres and Low Expectations

Creepoid Jammi York Photography via Creepoid Facebook page
Noisy, experimental rock band Creepoid and its brethren in psychedelic sounds Ecstatic Vision are touring the U.S. this spring, and on Thursday, March 23, they'll be at the hi-dive.

Both bands hail from Philadelphia, which has an underground music scene — rife with shows at houses, DIY venues and small clubs — that is a well-kept secret. That kind of situation inevitably produces bands that don't fit strictly within genre boundaries.

For groups playing established styles of music, branching out and even getting noticed at home is much easier than it is for innovators. Creepoid and Ecstatic Vision fall into the latter camp, defying easy classification, despite superficial genre designations slapped onto them by well-meaning journalists and fans.

The bands don't want to be a part of a specific music scene; rather, they have carved out their own musical identity, blending and defying genres, which often results in better long-term results. The Internet has made it easier for musicians to encounter new types of music, and multi-genre groups like Creepoid and Ecstatic Vision are becoming more common. Ecstatic Vision guitarist and singer Doug Sabolik says defying genre is a “double-edged sword.”

“If you fit into a mold, you can be marketed, and you can get on these tours where people go because they like this thing,” says Sabolik. “On the other hand, you can just carve your own path, and in the end it's more meaningful. It doesn't seem like it when you're struggling the whole time, but eventually you see things turn over.”
Ecstatic Vision, with its heavy guitar sound, has predictably been lumped in with others under clumsily inaccurate terms like "stoner rock" or "psychedelic metal," but the band has roots in Detroit revolution rock, Krautrock and African and Middle Eastern rhythms and tonalities.

The diversity of Creepoid's own discography has been unusual and diverse because of its members' varied musical backgrounds. But that hasn't stopped people from labeling the act.

“Everybody kept saying shoegaze, shoegaze, shoegaze,” says Creepoid guitarist Sean Miller. “Then suddenly people started saying, 'nü gaze' and like, 'Oh, fuck, we've got to figure this out.' It's always a struggle. I saw somebody once that had pencils in a line. Some were short, some were long, but they were all pencils. We're not this, that or the other thing. You want some kind of adjective to get people into your band, but it's always funny. We listen to everything, so it's not totally off base, and the genres bleed through, I'm sure."

Says Miller: "Part of the fun for us is to hop around a bit. We may have finger-picking blues riffs or some hardcore influences or whatever. There's some Americana in there, and we use the tremolo bar, and then it's 'shoegaze.' We like to consider ourselves drenched in genres.”

Creepoid plays with Ecstatic Vision and Gringo Star, Thursday, March 23, at 8 p.m. at the hi-dive. Tickets are $10-$13. Call 303-733-0230 for more information.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.