In the wintry night of New Year’s Eve, New York lay abuzz with happy shouts and drunken laughter well past the break of dawn. For one night, the city of lights dealt with a true case of insomnia… not to mention a bit of paranoia as well. Bags were searched and aggressive drunkards were swiftly whisked away throughout the evening. However, that didn’t stop thousands of partiers from congregating at the one of the city’s most classic rock venues, Hammerstein Ballroom, to celebrate psychedelic dance music. Israeli psy-rock icons Infected Mushroom teamed up with English psytrance legend Simon Posford under stage names Shpongle (crazy artwork and logo above) and Hallucinogen for an all-star lineup of music inspired from the land of Goa and beyond.
It was a rare opportunity to see two of the most influential artists in the realm of psychedelic dance music. Many of the attendees found themselves in a frustratingly long line that stretched several blocks; with security at a year-time high, long lines seem to be unavoidable. But that couldn’t stop the excited whispers: Infected Mushroom and Shpongle in one night! The line moved surprisingly fast, and me and Kid Alien found ourselves on the main floor relatively quickly past the checkpoint. When we got in, American psytrance old-timer Christopher Lawrence was playing a blast-from-the-past trance set that was a tad outdated for the modern trance enthusiast.
Infected Mushroom stole the show with a destructive barrage of psychedelic trance. From the last time I saw them in 2008, it seemed as though they have incorporated a lot more metal rock influences, which wasn’t a big surprise given the band’s musical evolution towards rock with their recent album Legend of the Black Shawarma. With only a drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist, the Israeli ‘shroom team shredded the crowd for two hours, starting right before the New Year’s Eve countdown. Playing in a rock venue, Infected Mushroom capitalized on Hammerstein’s punchy speakers and strong acoustics. The fans went crazy as they traded 4/4 beats with splintering solos. They made sure to satisfy fans with new tracks and classics like Vicious Delicious and Cities Of The Future.
By the time Infected Mushroom finished its set, the curtains had closed, and the crowd was treated to some pre-recorded jazz and reggae dub as the stage was being prepared for Shpongle. Twenty minutes later, the curtains were raised again, and the crowd laid witness to what Kid Alien could only describe as an “electrified pagoda.” Fully equipped with an enormously trippy projection, the stage was truly a sight to behold. One moment, a pair of a hundred eyes would stare down upon the crowd. The next moment, fifty different geometric shapes were spinning together and changing colors. Posford mixed at the top of the structure with a massive projectile eye stationed directly above him. His set transported you to the furthest global reaches of psychedelic music–lucid synths sampled with traditional South American and Asian instruments. It was a nice and relaxed followup to Infected’s intense performance. It was hard to recognize many of the tracks, which is something I appreciate as a slightly jaded dance fan. Most of the tracks were undeniably of the Shpongle sort, and he thankfully played some of my favorites like Divine Moments of Truth. No doubt, the electrified pagoda is one of the most impressive indoor production displays I have ever seen. All around, we were all in agreement that it was one hell of a show.