The lockdowns enforced by the global pandemic were disastrous on several levels, but one of the biggest shocks for me was the cancellation of PSYDOLL’s previous tour. They had a whole bunch of shows lined up and were primed to go before COVID-19 put the kibosh on their plans (and at a great financial cost to the band). But, undeterred, they’re back for an eight-date trek across the UK as part of their Spark Tour. Bringing a taste of dystopian Tokyo to rain-soaked Birmingham, PSYDOLL are ready to unleash their psychedelic sound and create a myriad of acidic musical visions.
Live Report: PSYDOLL + Dead Happy
The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, 23. 03. 2023
I remember a time when heavy metal and electronic music were diametrically opposed; each was the complete antithesis of the other, and it seemed the twain would never meet. However, bands such as Fear Factory and Godflesh demolished genre divisions and paved the way for a whole new generation of noise merchants. Birmingham’s Dead Happy are one of the scene’s brightest bands, but they’re certainly the most inventive. Like three mad scientists who’ve escaped from an institution, everything about them screams “extreme” from their colourful attire to the over-the-top theatrical vocals. Think System Of A Down and Electric Six colliding with Tenacious D and imbibing LSD, and then you’d have something approaching Dead Happy. Their original tunes like My Sex Appeal and The Art Of Making Ghosts are a blast, as is a mash-up of ‘90s tunes by the likes of Cypress Hill and The Backstreet Boys. Dead Happy have a busy schedule with lots of shows lined up, so make sure you check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
Tokyo’s premier cyberpunk band PSYDOLL are no strangers to the UK, having played these shores fairly regularly since 2003 (where they won hearts at Leeds’s Beyond The Veil gothic festival). The band have a definite crossover appeal and have attracted a wide audience that includes fans of anime, punks, assorted ne’er-do-wells, and the just plain curious. All these different tribes are united in a love of alternative music, and a tangible air of expectation crackles the air as we await the band. When they arrive, it is in typically understated style, and with little fanfare. PSYDOLL are a band who have an arresting image, especially guitarist Ucchi who performs behind some strange leather mask (I bet it raises a few eyebrows when going through customs!), yet they’re a band who let the music do the talking.
With Ucchi playing some sick riffs along with some gnarly solos, he is surely one of the world’s most underrated guitarists, whilst Nekoi moves around the stage like a mischievous imp and sings with vocals that remind me of Siouxsie Sioux (she of The Banshees). The band’s sound is a blend of sharp, surgical electronics and organic instruments and the result is an interesting juxtaposition that demands your full attention. This isn’t the type of music that plays in the background; it’s a dark psychedelia that is very hypnotic, and they’ve definitely cast a spell on all those present. So much so, that when the final track reaches its conclusion, those at stage front seem a little shell shocked, but the crowd demand an encore, and PSYDOLL are happy to oblige.
At just 60 minutes, some might say that PSYDOLL’s set is a little short, but the truth is that they’ve packed more into this show than most bands pack into an entire career.
Leave a Reply