Three signs that it’s April:
1) Time to pay the taxman!
2) Start of the NHL playoffs (or as the Leafs call it, golf season)
3) The Acid Mothers Temple is playing at El Mocambo
Alas, last nite was AMT’s annual trip to Toronto, playing the ElMo as always. Though they hail from Japan, they make a point of touring North America once a year; and always in April. I’ve seen ’em a couple times before (last year, they played on Easter Sunday, if memory serves), always at the same venue, with the same promoter and a variety of bizarre opening bands, albeit never more than one per tour. I’d hafta say that this year’s support, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, were the most “normal” band I’ve encountered at an AMT gig, even if it was the first time I recall seeing a harmonium on stage.
You don’t go to an AMT gig hoping they play “that song.” An Acid Mothers tune is a 20+ minute performance piece, and they’ve only got time for a handful of them within an average set. You can expect to hear some familiar-sounding blues-rock riffs from the 70’s on overdrive, played into the ground with frequent time changes, lots of FX pedals, slow, mellow, instro interludes–there’s almost no vocals aside from some Japanese scatting, Tibetan chants and other strange noises, mainly from the mouth of bassist Tsuyama Atsushi–and such oddities as a recorder solo (remember those from sixth grade music class?) and guitar parts played with a bow (no, not an Ebow, the real thing…).
Kawabata Makoto, a big-haired Japanese shaman Jimi Hendrix, leads the way with his psychedelic guitar freakouts, and usually leaves his instrument suspended from the ceiling at evening’s end. After an encore, it’s time to hit the massive merch table, where the band has a stunning array of albums for sale, many of which were released in the 12 months since they last came to town. Prices aren’t cheap (20 bucks a pop), but a lot of this stuff is otherwise unavailable on these shores, so I always set aside some money for merch. I probably own about eight AMT albums, and that’s barely scratching the surface…
Although their studio output is varied and experimental, a real mixed bag, these guys are one of the best psychedelic groups going when it comes to the live environment. And unlike Earthless, who I haven’t seen round here since February ’09, you can always mark it on your calendar. If it’s April, the Acid Mothers Temple will be playing the El Mocambo. Like death, taxes and the postal service, it’s a guaranteed sure thing.
P.S.: I’ll be spinning some AMT tonite on Smokin’ Green, along with some heavy, trippy tunes from the likes of Snail, Hash, Earthlings? and Monster Magnet. Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer! Playlist and podcast posted over here afterwards.