• Jon Rogers MFT review

    9 mars 2012, 22h00m

    Wed 7 Mar – Magnetic South Revue

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 was a special night for experimental music and psychedelic rock in Bloomington. Magnetic South, which has quickly captured my heart as one of the most dynamic Indiana studios/labels/places to catch a killer show, occupied The Bishop for the night (another great place for Bloomington shows), charging no cover and taking a chunk of bar sales to help pay the bands (several of whom will be venturing to SXSW this weekend). It was good to know that I could have money for beer and help support the bands with every pint. Each band was an absolute treat, and most of them shared members with at least one other band that played. In fact, a few individuals seemed to stay on stage for most of the night, but this lent the entire showcase a cohesive, familial feel.

    It was called "Magnetic South Revue 3," and it was curated by the analog-obsessed studio inviting several bands that had recently recorded there to perform together. The first band was Sitar Outreach Ministry, a group I had been wanting to check out for a while, if for no other reason because I like their name. The band consisted of a sitar player, a percussionist who played several types of exotic hand drums, and Sonny Alexander from Apache Dropout on guitar. All three musicians played in a mellow and meditative style, and it was a transcendent performance on many levels. The beautiful, eastern-influenced, droning songs never lasted for very long, but each one was like a brief glimpse at the eternal. A very impressive band who I really hope to see again as soon as possible, Sitar Outreach Ministry just self-released a vinyl LP that was recorded at Magnetic South.

    Purple Seven, a new project from a couple of the dudes in Landlord, followed with a set of catchy and upbeat indie rock. The rock quartet also featured Thee Open Sex’s John Dawson on drums. The two frontmen had awesome voices and write simple, melodic songs that had people on their feet again after the Sitar Outreach Ministry’s super-chill opening. Purple Seven have a new cassette (recorded at Magnetic South, obviously), and they seem to be a band worth watching in the future. The fun, energetic indie rock sound is slightly different for this compendium of bands, but these individuals seem to excel at any genre they choose to explore.

    Next up was Circuit Des Yeux, a confrontational and heavy garage/psych trio whose presence and sound combined to make it my favorite time I’ve seen them. Singer/guitarist Haley Fohr was at the top of her game, roaring out her lyrics and wailing along on electric guitar. And the drummer, Clarke Joyner, is one of my favorite musicians to watch live these days. He just has so much intensity, and he seems to never miss a beat. The quality of the sound was excellent all night (props to the sound guy), and I think it was one of the reasons that Circuit Des Yeux’s music really clicked with me this time around. Check out an MFT interview with Fohr here.

    Thee Open Sex followed, blowing my mind just like they have every time I’ve seen them. Somehow, band leader John Dawson manages to always keep the band’s sound and revolving lineup fresh. The band specializes in pounding away at killer riffs that instantly put the listener into a timeless psychedelic trance. Vocalist Rachel Weidner has a great voice that helps carry the songs forward, and she often expresses a wild range of emotions through a variety of wordless shrieks and moans as the jams swirl off into the abyss. An army of shredding guitarists provided waves of noise, but things never got too loose. The band stays in astonishing synchronization, and the effect is indescribable. Thee Open Sex are powerful, dynamic, and always impressive.

    Next up was Mad Monk, AKA John Terrill, a true Bloomington legend who played drums in The Dancing Cigarettes in the 80s. I first heard about Terrill through his involvement in the Apache Dropout LP, but I also recently researched and profiled The Dancing Cigarettes for MFT and was thus very excited to hear his new music. Not too long ago, Terrill recorded with Apache Dropout at Magnetic South for a new EP, and he was joined by the band onstage for his brief but entertaining set. The band started with a great cover of the Fugs’ “I Want to Know,” which was dedicated to Tuli Kupferberg, and they ended with a Lou Reed cover. In between were two Terrill originals: one a new single, the other a charming and witty number about drinking brandy and ginger ale.

    With little transition, Apache Dropout played their rowdy set, including vocal help by John Terrill on a cover of Nilsson’s “Cuddly Toy,” which was dedicated to Davy Jones. Apache Dropout have become something of a flagship band for Bloomington’s underground scene, and they once again proved themselves worthy of their status with succinct jams which manage to whittle down all the energy and squall of side two of White Light / White Heat into three-minute garage pop songs. Their set was a perfect ending to a strong night of rock and roll music. The audience seemed to stay entertained the entire time, the beer flowed freely, and I genuinely enjoyed all of the music. I highly recommend seeing any or all of these bands whenever you get the chance.

    -by Jon Rogers, originally found at