TVD Recommends: Temples at Asbury Lanes, 8/8

Psychedelic. There’s a word that probably conjures up a rainbow of smoke plumes for some of you. Maybe the odd tickle of an acid flashback bubbles up the back of your spine. Maybe you were around when psychedelia oozed itself over pop culture like a bright orb of melted lava.

When I think of “psychedelic” I think of 1967. I wasn’t around for it, but when I was young I bought in. The Summer of Love. The Beatles and the Stones getting weird. Hendrix. The Doors in L.A., The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco. Haight Ashbury. Vietnam. People out in the streets. Riots on TV. It all seemed exciting and insane, like the whole country was holding its breath in unison until everyone got dizzy from it and began seeing bright, swirling colors.

Yeah in the 1990s after the second wave of grunge proved to be little more than over produced toy boys in standard-issue flannels and Doc Martens, I retreated to the back catalogue of “classic rock” and I was all in.

Not just the music, but the culture. The history. The people. Everything seemed so interesting. So important. But as with a lot of things in life, the older I got, the more cynical I became and the more it seemed like a lot of the nostalgia for that period was the fond memories of burnouts staving off anonymity by carrying a torch for their youth—and trying to weave their glory days into myths and legends.

These days I fall somewhere in the middle—I still love a lot of the music from that era, but some of the romanticism has started to rust. And so what? What does this have to do with anything?

Well, the first word that seems to come up when most people mention Temples’ music is “psychedelia.” They certainly don’t shy away from such a distinction. I first heard them about a year ago—on satellite radio of course, since there is no major station playing new rock music in the NYC area, but hey, that’s a whole other article. Their single “Keep in the Dark” bounces along like a gentle locomotive engine and the chorus sticks to your teeth like peanut butter. I suppose you could call it “catchy,” but that almost minimizes it. Catchy is great, but catchy also sounds like something you’re sick of after a month, and the song—like their album, Sun Structures—suggests there’s more going on here.

This brings me back to “psychedelic.” A lot of bands have been painted with that brush in the past and it’s been apt, but I think what got lost over the years with a psychedelic sound is the hint of something ominous lurking just below the surface.

Sure, you can make trippy Sgt. Pepper arrangements in a song, but the reason so much of that music was interesting in the first place was because it was unsettling. So while I wouldn’t necessarily describe Sun Structures as a particularly dark album, it does suggest they’re a band that has that gear should they choose to use it. Listen to the title track—a beat chugging along with an early Doors-ish organ waling over it suddenly gives way to a jagged, Eastern influenced guitar line and simmers to a sinister boil.

The English natives have been blowing through the United States over the last year including a recent slot at Lollapalooza (not to mention playing on the bill at the Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park show last summer), so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of grit these songs have picked up over the last few months as things have started to take off for them. Which is why I’m excited to see them at Asbury Lanes this Friday—it’s the closest they’ll come to playing inside an actual lava lamp.

Temples will be at Asbury Lanes this Friday, August 8th. The show starts at 9PM, doors at 8PM. For tickets go here. For more on Temples go here. For more on Asbury Lanes go here.

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