Long Beach Psyclone Festival Was a Slice of Rockabilly Heaven
Photo of Inazuma by Scott Feinblatt
Long Beach Psyclone Weekender Sea Port Marina Hotel 9/3-7/15 There is easily enough of a contingent of psychobilly fans throughout SoCal to keep festivals like Long Beach Psyclone rockin' and a rollin' all night long. As it was, the psychobilly and rockabilly music festival only lasted until 2 a.m.; however, since the fest lasted for four days, one could say that it evened out in the end.
Each day of the 4th annual Long Beach Psyclone weekender began at sundown. There were brunches, barbecues, and pool parties with the bands (featuring several performances) and a Big Red Bus tour as well, which this reviewer unfortunately missed out on. However, gauging from Friday night at the Seaport Marina Hotel, where the festival was held, organizer Brando Von Badsville and his co-promoter, Jose Noriega, have established a solid event, which featured an impressive cross-section of bands from around the world.
Photo of Long Beach Psyclone Guests by Scott Feinblatt
As for the music, most of the bands featured the standard genre arrangement of an upright bass, a Gretsch electric guitar, a drum kit, and a singer (who may or may not also be the guitarist). The first band of Friday night's line-up was Inazuma, who performed on the downstairs stage of the Hydra Lounge. Following the bass player's opening cry of "Kanpai!" (with which he toasted the audience with a can of sponsoring brewer Pabst Blue Ribbon), he and his fellow Japanese bandmates proved that there was no nationalistic or ethnic divide which could inhibit passionate rockers from performing a first class psychobilly show, complete with some nice psychedelic jams.
One of the charming musical threads of the evening was the fact that many of the bands performed cover songs with psychobilly arrangements. Among these were Inazuma's performance of "Tequila" by The Champs, Johnny Dahmer's performance of "Psycho Killer" by The Talking Heads, and The Radios' performance of "Hungarian Dance No. 5" by Johannes Brahms. Naturally, the appearance and attitude of the musicians is just as crucial to the identity of psychobilly as the punked out rockabilly sound. However, it was frequently difficult to determine if some of the festival's guests had a more innate connection with their horror and sci-fi infused pin-up and Teddy Boy fashions than the band members; then again, it was difficult to distinguish performers from patrons, as the former would simply disappear into the crowd after their sets.
Photo of Frantic Flintstones by Scott Feinblatt
Insanely frenetic energy was the norm for the performers, but given the festival was billed as a rockabilly and psychobilly event, there were occasional performances that manifested the more conservative nature of the former style. The Tone Slingers was one of those bands that slowed things down to more of a classical rock and roll sound; additionally, this band's bass player never once stood on his instrument, and the guitarist's instrument was [gulp!] acoustic!
While all of the bands were entertaining, the headliner of the night definitely attracted the most attention. Hailing from Germany, Frantic Flintstones were among the first psychobilly bands to form, in the mid-80's. Although lead singer Chuck Harvey is the only original member of the group, the band performed an awe-inspiringly aggressive set (the bass player was mind-blowing), and it seemed that most of the members of the other bands congregated to behold the FF set from backstage.
By the end of the evening, many of the guests were fairly legless and probably would have gotten as much of a thrill watching one another dance with lampshades on their heads, but they didn't have to. The Long Beach Psyclone Festival provided top notch sights and sounds from the moment the first DJ got the sound system going until the final DJ provided the wind down at the end of the evening.
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