It’s a rule as old as time itself: late September will be lost in a whirl of confusing chatter about Freshers events. In a new city and a new scene, you’ve no idea what’s worth the ticket price. Club promoters come at you with overpriced tickets for bland events in dim-lit venues with sticky seats, and the Guild pushes its own Welcome Week wristbands. All this is great if you have a spare £60 and love early 2000s pop, but if you’re looking for a slightly alternative back-to-school experience, PZYK 2017 looks well worth a visit.
PZYK 2017 is the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, and it describes itself as a “pan-continental celebration of audio futurists, operating at the bleeding edge of today’s psychedelic renaissance”. Set within Liverpool’s creative hub – the Baltic Triangle – the lineup features sounds as diverse as the 90s-reminiscent extrospective distortion of The Black Angels and the innovative electro-blends of Acid Arab.
Musical psychedelia, in its resurgence, is as much about inter-cultural inspiration and ambient beats as guitars riffs and keyboard journeys – though there’s still plenty of the latter, found in bands like Stereolab, if electronic music is not your scene. Because of the diverse ways psychedelic music has branched off from its 1960s roots, influencing the growth of new genres, 2017 psychedelia acts like an inter-genre convention, uniting elements of rock, funk, post-punk and house under a shared artistic vision.
Combining the best of new and old, event organisers note that TRÄD, GRÄS OCH STENAR revisit psychedelia’s formative years, “from beyond the well-trodden UK/US axis. Theirs is an insight down the road less travelled. Theirs is a world where community, politics, music, culture and sustainability all coexist. Theirs is a blueprint for a PZYK future.” The event is also headlined by the quiescently political Afrofunk guitars of Songhoy Blues, and supported by other noteworthy artists like LOOP and Laetitia Sadier.
The event runs from 22nd to 23rd September, but this is just half of the story: the lead-up is dotted with arts events, such as PZYK FILM, a short psychedelic film-screening project run in partnership with FACT Liverpool. Musings in Drone will return with an interactive talk from the makers of the acclaimed W.I.T.C.H. documentary. From groundbreaking stage visuals to Bold St. Coffee, expect the artistic range of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia to be far-reaching.
Maybe it’s the timing – and the clash with Freshers Week – that makes this festival so underrated among students in Liverpool. It certainly doesn’t attract as much noise as comparative events such as Fiesta Bombarda.
Full-weekend access to the United Kingdom’s largest celebration of psychedelic subculture will set you back a cool £80 – but compare it to the combined price of other Freshers events, and you won’t find much difference. Perhaps PZYK ’17 is a more worthy creative investment for the first installment of your student loan.
As the organisers put it, “T h i s f e s t i v a l w i l l d e s t r o y y o u.”