The flood gates of consciousness were opened last night at the kick-off celebration for the upcoming Sonic Bloom festival. Alex and Allyson Grey opened the night with an intimate discussion on psychedelic art, the uses of psilocybin and how the Church of Sacred Mirrors came to be -- all of which made for a great night of live music and art.
Walking into Cervantes', the first thing you noticed was how the place had been transformed into a museum last night, with Grey's work adorning the walls. Certain works chosen from his "Progress of the Soul" series were projected onto changing LEDs. The morphing the images pulling everyone who passed by them into the realm of consciousness and awareness.
Grey's lecture opened with a brief history of psychedelics and how they've been memorialized in art. He spoke about the representations throughout history of certain cultures and how "magic mushrooms" were used to reach another plane of consciousness. Grey pointed out a certain piece of art with a primitive fractal pattern displayed on an old buckskin.
He went on to discuss how and why LSD and psilocybin had come into existence in the contemporary world. Maria Sabina, the first Mexican curandera, introduced westerners to the idea of opening the doors to perception with hallucinogens.
A small shout-out to the late Albert Hofmann, the scientist credited with synthesizing Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, brought forth a loud applause. Save for the occasional, "FUCK YEA!" Grey's lecture was informative -- although it did lack depth at some points. A reference to TOOL, a band for whom Grey has produced artwork for, including the legendary cover art for the albumLateralus, had many TOOL-shirt wearing fans yelling with joy.
The stage was strewn with instruments and canvas holders for the live artists who started painting just as Zobomaze was set to take the stage. Zobomaze opened up the musical portion of the evening with a jazzy-funkified saxophone, in front of a lively crowd already primed from Grey's words on tripping.
Resident Anti-Hero, a politically charged trio of poets, rappers and an ill, beat-dropping DJ were laying it down raw on the Otherside. "Systems of Control" was the head-nodding anthem for the whole set with a grimy, electric guitar under the vocals of Sergeant Fenix and dj Etheric Double. The Ballroom remained full following the speech, thanks to Zobomaze and the Nadis Warriors, who followed (Zobomaze will be playing again in early May and you'll be able to see Nadis Warriors at the actual Sonic Bloom festival in June).
Octopus Nebula, a group you'll also find at Sonic Bloom, followed Nadis Warriors and played for the entirety of Alex and Allyson's live painting session. The chemistry of the Greys' peaceful gestures juxtaposed the bass-heavy tracks from Nebula and gave the stage a playful composition of dance and light.
Miraja, often seen as the other half of Future Simple Project, was playing a solo set at the Otherside, complete with a fan dancer and aerials. Full LED panels served as the backdrop. Miraja has fun on stage, and his energetic passion is transferred through his music. His openings are slow, much like classical compositions, and build on each note until he's peaked out on the dub and bass.
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DJ Vadim and the Electric Crew followed Miraja's set and offered a welcome break from the heavy electronic sounds that filled the night, with some hip-hop. Vadim kept it fresh on the tables, as Sabira Jade was harmonizing and Pugz Atomz kept the attention of the crowd.
Ant-ten-nae closed down the night in the main room, following Nebula's set and the live painting. The whole evening was organized perfectly with the right music for the right mood at each point in the night. The Greys' signed autographs and personalized messages on posters for TOOL fans.
Click through for Critic's Notebook and lots more photos from the evening.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Bringing Alex and Allyson Grey to speak is huge. An opportunity to see artists of this caliber, to me, is like seeing a modern master. Here is an influential man whose work has influenced and will continue too in many years to come. Random Detail: My close friend saw Electric Crews Sabira Jade at Whole Foods earlier in the evening, unknowingly at the time. She bought vegan cake, some apples and a salad. Is that random enough?