What better way for the lo-fi-lover, fuzz punk praiser in me to celebrate Cinco de Mayo then to go California’s first Psych-rock festival, Psycho de Mayo. This week’s surreal review will be three parts; First, my take on the blooming psych scene birthing in Orange County, second, the “anonymous” experiences of  psilocybin at Psycho de Mayo, third my live-performance review of the kings of fuzzy psych and stoner rock, Dead Meadow. So let’s bust into this before we burst at the seams with hyper-neon glow.

1. One! Uno. – The Psych Scene- LA and OC

Austin has SXSW, Chicago has Lollapalooza, both fantastic experiences in cities with amazing music scenes.

But, Los Angeles, the home of sunny weather and beautiful babes:

SoCal has Coachella (so big it requires weekends 1 and 2).
Once a sanctuary of hidden gems, now the place of resurrecting Tupac.

We have FYF, a festival of cult-followed rockers ranging from King Khan and the Shrines to The Descendants.
Started by a dude who loves punk, but had access to the resources of Coachella, and made a serious contention for the best fest in LA.

There’s Culture Collide and Burgerama, where indie bands can be the up-and-comers these festivals are designed to make them.
Two much smaller festivals, but with quite rad and adored bands, these festivals will continue to improve.

But this weekend Thief Presents hosted Psycho de Mayo, a young, fresh, psychedelic festival located in Downtown Santa Ana (which, by the way, is cultivating a pretty radical art scene with college art lofts and a community of local stores and businesses that support art). Santa Ana, located in Orange County is often overlooked, but the Yost Theatre shouldn’t be. This venue is gnarly.
Bomb food, a rad layout with booths on the side, and a pretty neat stage setup.
Not to mention 3 bars around the city where you could check out bands (like 30 bands) for free…FREE! You could have seen and heard some great music, for the price of the Corona you were gonna guzzle anyways. But the big guns, the show-offs of psych were locked down in the Yost.

When I saw that Thief (which normally hosts shows in LA) was putting this psych fest down in the OC, I wondered to myself what the attraction was, maybe it was hard to find a venue available for Cinco de Mayo, maybe LA was more challenging financially. But then I realized so many of the fresh psych rockers were coming straight out of the OC. I mean lo-fi garage rock is produced all over the country, but the dudes in the OC do it best. And one of the biggest reasons this is happening is a little record shop run by some super chill stoners, called Burger Records.

Burger is like the friend who sits at the record store all day suggesting these crazy sounding band names and then shuffles through hundreds of LP’s to find the one track he wants you to hear. And you become indebted to him eternally.

So as they are compiling all this righteous music, their fans, their customers, their appreciators are growing in numbers and in persistence. And I think it’s more than feasible to see the Psych-rock scene grow in its outreach, because of Burgers influence.  And fortunately for you readers, I got my ears and eyes pretty low to the ground to try and bring you the freshest psychedelic veggies I can pick from the Burger Farmers Market.

I am not Cleopatra, so you can’t call me now for your free tarot reading on where the Psych scene will go. I’m not Nostradamus, and I will prophecy what this music, fashion, and culture will represent. But I am the writer of SurReal Reviews, an avid fan of punk/psych rock, and I can tell you a re-birth of Psychedelic has come. Behold the golden calf.


2. Two! Dos. Fear and Loathing, Love and Living in OC.

Magic Mushrooms, Psilocybin, SHROOMS! Nature’s way of saying, “Yes, please partake in what I have to offer, but be gluttonous and I will have you tripping balls for days.”

Hi, my name’s Anonymous, and I have a problem with mushrooms. My problem is I don’t like the taste but I love the magical carnival rides. Seriously, no seriousssly. Santa Ana was nice enough to provide me with a Cinco de Mayo street festival, right outside my PSYCHO DEEEEE MAYO. Do you know what a Mexican street festival looks like?
well let me tell you…
-Those swirly pattern blankets that your family brings home as souvenirs  —-SARAPE?
-Those swirly pattern blankets with a hole cut in the middle so you can wear it like a jacket —–SARAPE?
-Churrrros, oh god the churros
-Nachos, cerveza, burritos, tacos annnnnd CHURROS
-Ceramic donkey statues
-Dia De Los Meurtos sugar skulls- which I conversed with, like I talked to the dead.
-Ball attached to paddle by string

Those were the things I could expect from a Mexican street festival. What I didn’t expect was a damn carnival. Sorry, I was on shrooms, so I believe its pronounced CARNIVALE! I got on the carousel first, to soak it in. And it wasn’t long before I threw myself into the spinning apple ride, which had never been more beautiful. Everything around me floated like that silly bag in American Beauty.

I got off the ride and purchased my second churro. Mmm!

Time to go see the first band, The Orange Revival. I was trippin’ pretty wild at this point.  I remember feeling the music was salty. It felt salty like the ocean. It made me dance, it made me splash.

Next I was off to catch Highlands, and I met the mom of the guitar player. So proudly she said “there’s my son, I am glad you want to hear them play, cause I do too.” I said to her “I just wanna trip balls and feel righteous.” And I did. They have a really sweet taste, I remember tasting their set. It reminded me of Now and Laters, you know the starburst that you can’t chew, unless you eat rocks, in a good way.

The Stranger Family Band killed it. I think I pounded three fat tires (the beer) during their set. I don’t remember any particular feelings, but I remember they invoked some of the best imagery of my trip. I felt very cosmic after their set.

The next hour or so was a real….trip. I ran back and forth to catch part of Mmoss and Blackfoot Braves. In the midst of that I had a conversation with a ceramic sugar skull that a lady was selling on the street. I barked at three little kids, believing I truly was a hairy dog, (not that they believed that, but I believed it). And I think, no wait… I know, I bought another churro.

Dahga Bloom, Psychomagia, and Dead Meadow led me into a really world shaping thought… if we stripped all things in our lives to the face value of what they are (i.e. flowers are pretty) then our expectations and happiness would be so much more fulfilling. Those pretty flowers would mean even more when they were given to you. I felt like the dudes of those bands made me the belle of the ball with pretty flowers of music. *blushing*

I remember bits of Dead Meadow, Tweak Bird, and Holy Wave. I am not sure I sat still for any of those performances. I talked with a giant named Albacore, and his pretty mistress, she didn’t have a name.

By the end of the night, the trips were fading out, but the adventure was not over. My brain had a lot to process as the effects didn’t go away, but the trips definitely subdued. This batch of psilocybin was hard hitting but fading quicker than I expected. And I think I drank two gallons worth of water. The end.

3. THREE! Tres.

Seeing Dead Meadow, front stage with my camera in hand was everything I wished it to be. Dead Meadow is the left-overs of two indie bands from the DC music scene. They formed in 1998, and brought an awakened sense to their vision for psych rock and stoner punk. I tried to keep up with them over the years. I always enjoyed listening to them, but I never had the chance to see them live. And my love for a band is definitely correlative to their live performance. So getting to see a band after listening to them for over a decade was nerve-racking.

WHAT IF?!? They DON’T live up to it.

NO! They will, there Dead Meadow. Most of there music has heavy jazz basslines. And punk drumming. And noisey shredding. BUT WHAT IF???


Well, no more what if’s. Dead Meadow was one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2013. They absolutely killed it. Dead Meadow was my highlight of Psycho De Mayo, and I cannot thank Thief Presents enough for concreting my love for DM.


OVERALL- Psycho De Mayo was a killer turnout, and should absolutely become an annual fest. In five years when its still banging on May 5th, I’ll be here to write the next recap, hopefully I will write about it annually, I just think in five years it will reach a precipice of greatness. PEACCCCE y’all.





About The Author

Ken Whiting

Ken splits his creativity primarily between music and film. Most of his work is deeply wrapped up in his horror production company www.frightoverse.com

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