Walking in to Mississippi Studios last Sunday, it felt like the three band pairing of Cambrian Explosion, Jackson Boone and Wishyunu would be a strange one. Based on their recordings, it appeared that there was very little to tie all the music together aside from the fact that each band identified with psych music in some way. What seemed to be an evening of mismatched artists turned out to be an ideal sampler of all the variations that psych-rock can take.
Cambrian Explosion played first, their set a dark dreamscape. Members of Cambrian Explosion appeared introspective on stage, incredibly invested in the music, which didn’t leave the audience with much to look at. However, the intricacy and unpredictability of the music gave the audience plenty to focus on: songs exploding surprisingly into sound, heavy distortion, and instruments blended so expertly it was difficult to decipher who was playing which part.
Playing second was Jackson Boone whose take on psych is both dreamy and jazzy. Their set seemed like a fitting middle-ground between the dark vibes of Cambrian Explosion and the more pop-centric focus of Wishyunu. Jackson Boone’s specialty seems to be creating psych-pop lullabies that develop quietly into full psych-rock cacophony. “Open” was decidedly the most experimental song they played, straying away from the easy rhythms and soft melodies comprising most of their set. The crowd was receptive and seemed more willing to nod their heads along as the night progressed.
Wishyunu’s set started with some technical difficulty, probably in part because the duo is so busy on stage, with Bei Yan filling the role of guitarist, synth-player, and vocalist. As Yan sorted out her issues on stage, dropping in an out of sound, drummer Tony Bertaccini remained solid on the drums, helping the audience stay engaged as they waited. Wishyunu’s songs are progressive, layering beat on top of beat and then dreamily disintegrating melodies into new ones, catchy hooks giving way to unexpected drum fills. The energy of their set was frenetic, unlike Cambrian Explosion or Jackson Boone, their music made your blood move faster, catapulting you forward with them as they played.
Their new single “Photoplay” is a dark electro-pop song that seemed to show a new direction for the band, less ambient than their older songs and more driven. The other song off of their 7-inch, “Summer Suit” was ethereal and focused, especially compared to the older songs they played surrounding their new releases, again proving that Wishyunu has started refining their vision and sound. You can catch them next in Portland on June 21st at the Holocene.
Photos by Lena Knofler