Following Spruce Trap and the V. Vecker Ensemble, a shamanic instrumental quartet from Victoria called Golden Hand, only played for 17 minutes. They still made quite an impression, though, with members Tchort, Vaim, Sardo, and Zosimus all cloaked in robes of varying quality as they rocked out some psychedelic doom metal jams, like Mammatus meets the Polyphonic Spree or Shooting Guns with fewer people and more of a satanic druid angle. Unfortunately, a sensitive fire alarm meant little fog could be used, so their laser wasn't as effective as it could have been, but Merlyn Chipman's tweaking of neon green and pink fractal projections around the venue enhanced the atmosphere just dandy on their own, keeping pace with their jam surges. [Ed.'s note: An earlier version of this review indicated that Golden Hand were the first performers of the evening.]
It was the job of Vancouver's own Outside Dog to set the stage for the headliner, but they ended up stealing the spotlight. They have played as a trio and as a quartet with a different guitarist, but their current quintet set-up is rock solid with Zachary Treble on drums, Jon Farrell on bass, Jacob Scouten on guitar and vocals, Hunter Cheveldave on a beat-up old Rhodes piano with tape peeling off the back, and David Novotny on slide guitar, shakers and whatnot. Granted, Scouten's vocals weren't the strongest, but they weren't frequent either, allowing their blend of classic stadium prog-rock and heavy psych with nods to Earthless, Pontiak, and King Crimson to build to a slow simmer, then boil over on the back of Treble's tribal skin trashing, Cheveldave's tripped out keys, and their keenly layered fretwork. Novotny's animated presence put the whole thing over the top, though, committed to selling everything he was doing, particularly some bluesy harmonica near the end. They drew the crowd close to the stage as soon as their set started, and never let them go.
This was apparently the first time Portland's Eternal Tapestry played in Vancouver, performing as the quartet of guitarist Cat Hoch, bassist Krag Likins, and brother Nick and Jed Bindeman, on guitar and drums respectively, while keyboardist Warren Lee travelled overseas. They were supposed to be on their way to appear at Austin Psych Fest afterwards, but they couldn't have been in much of a hurry since they didn't get onstage until quarter past one a.m., and played straight through until the two a.m. curfew.
Even without Lee's organ drones, they rocked solid as a unit, mostly sticking to the drifting atmospheric raga sound of their recent botany-inspired double-album Wild Strawberries as opposed to their darker experimental material. Likins and Jed loped in the texture while Hoch scorched lead guitar and Nick performed more nuanced layering, using a nylon-stringed guitar for the first track. Unfortunately, Chipman's visuals were cutting out intermittently behind Outside Dog throughout their set, and Jed rolled up the screen most of the way before their set, so there wasn't a whole lot to look at. The band's energy felt somewhat insular, but they're known for improvisation. They don't write songs. They just hit record, so to see them live is to see them create, like being a fly on the wall in the studio, and you feel lucky to be that fly.