For the past four or five years, I’ve counted on Japanese spaced-out psych merchants Acid Mothers Temple coming through town in April. They always seem to take a trip over here right when spring starts to bloom. Well okay, so spring was a little late this year. Also of note: this gig wasn’t at the El Mocambo, their typical Toronto tour stop for as long as I can remember, but rather at The Garrison, down by Dundas and Ossington.
Considering that the usually-reliable ElMo sound system offered some resistance during last year’s trip to Toronto, I suppose I’m not surprised at the change of venue. Besides, it’s not like they packed ’em in at the Stones’ ol’ stompin’ grounds. That said, there was a pretty decent-sized crowd out at this one, and a younger audience than I’ve seen at their past gigs.
I suppose some of them might’ve been there for The Phantom Family Halo, an indie-psych act from NYC that employed two drummers and a saxophone. As far as AMT openers go, they were better than most. My favourite still has to be Over-Gain Optimal Death (aka OGOD) from 2010, though. They were pretty sweet.
But of course the evening belonged to the band from the land of Japan. The Mothers added another full-fledged guitarist to their lineup in the form of Tabata Mitsuru, allowing them to execute some four-man vocal harmonies (if you could call ’em that). This set also featured a lot more vocal noises from bassist and occasional singer Tsuyama Atsushi, who even busted out a clarinet at select intervals. Kawabata Makoto brought some additional props too, playing guitar with a Barbie doll and a music-note shaped EBow, along with his magic wand, which came out earlier than usual this time.
While you can expect to hear such staples as “Pink Lady Lemonade” and “Chinese Flying Saucer” in your average AMT set, it’s not like the band takes requests. Hell, at times I’m not even sure whether they’re drawing from their long, varied back catalogue, or just jamming up there. These guys put on a full, 75 to 90 minute performance that runs the gamut of heavy psych sounds through a variety of tempos, always leaving room for dessert. They might not be the only band I make a point of seeing every time they’re in Toronto, but they’re certainly on that list.
That being said, this might have been the last AMT gig I’ll get to see. According to the band’s website, this latest go-round has been dubbed “Last Tour in US & Canada 2012.” I can only hope that something got lost in translation when they made that statement–April will be a lot less exciting without ’em!