Formed in 2011, Spaceface are ushering in a new dawn of psychedelic pop. A member of the Flaming Lips, frontman Jake Ingalls is no stranger to the psych side of music. But Spaceface takes it a bit further: instead of just paying to hear the music, they want you to have an experience. Complete with trippy light shows, dreamy harmonies, driving basslines, and of course, balloons; this is not your weird stoner uncle’s psychedelic rock show.
Opening the show at Schubas on Sunday was Chicago psych rock band The Voluptuals. They fit the whole “psychedelic space rock” theme of the night, with the band giving off a retro Bowie vibe with their stage presence. The singer had a Jim Morrison-esque sensuality, raising his arms and rubbing his body as he sang. His presence commanded attention, with the combination of his crazy movements in addition to his outfit: blue eyeshadow, pigtails and an open vest exposing a copious amount of chest hair. I particularly enjoyed “You’d Be The First To Die in a Zombie Apocalypse”, an epic journey of a song taking you through the twists and turns of a zombie apocalypse.
Next up were the Faux Furrs. They had more of a garage band quality to their sound. Their echoing, understated vocals with sparkling guitar lines made for an interesting sound: like listening to a garage rock band on the moon. The band used graphic black and white projections in their performance, which added to the mind bending experience. Frontman Ryan Deffet made a joke about their projections, saying they made a new one to outdo Spaceface’s light show, but they left it at home, so what they brought would have to do.
Their stage presence was cute though slightly awkward, between Deffet’s soft spoken quips and guitarist Adam Karstens breaking a string mid set which lead to banter with the crowd about Mother’s Day. All stage banter aside, the projections combined with the music was captivating. “Fools Gold or The Lion” grabbed my attention, with its driving drumbeat, epic guitar line and commanding vocals. Less pop driven than some of their other songs, this 70s-style jam solidifies the Faux Furrs spot in the psych rock genre.
While the first two bands were enjoyable, I was ready for the epic light show and experience Spaceface is known to create. While the band was setting up, I saw Ingalls carrying 2 plastic bags full of inflated balloons to the stage. “There’s the big stage show”, I thought, slightly disappointed. “They’re going to drop balloons on the crowd.” What actually happened exceeded my expectations.
After jamming out to a few songs, including “In the Clouds” and new song “Sky in the Road”, Ingalls spoke to the crowd. “I don’t think there was a happier time than in gym class when the teacher pulled out one of those giant primary colored parachutes ”. The crowd cheered in approval. “Well…we actually have one of those with us. Do you guys want to play with it?” What happened next was like a psychedelic daydream. While the band played “Parachute”, Ingalls threw the parachute to the crowd and acted as the gym teacher, instructing everyone on what to do with the parachute all while balloons bounced and floated in the air. For approximately 4 minutes, the audience forgot their troubles and had the opportunity to act like children again, and it was awesome.
With the crowd still on a high from the parachute, Spaceface launched into a cover of Bowie’s “Fame”, and everyone went wild. Although Schubas was nowhere near packed, the energy was high and the crowd was dancing and engaged. As the night went on, the band continued to play songs from their critically acclaimed 2017 album Sun Kids, including “Radiator”, which was just released as a music video earlier this year, and “Timeshare”. Instead of playing the album version of the “Timeshare”, they played the Wizaard remix, which Ingalls informed the crowd that the group thought it was even better than their own version.
They ended the show with “Spread Your Head”, a groovy 70s influenced jam. With curtains of led strips cascading throughout the stage being controlled off the side of the stage by bandmember Daniel Quinlan, the light show added a kaleidoscopic element to the entire show experience. “I feel that if you’re going to take a chance and spend the evening with us, we’re gonna make it worth your time,” Quinlan told Mountain Xpress in 2016. I’d say that 12 dollars to see an epic concert level light show is a steal.
Spaceface is currently wrapping up a small spring tour. Dates and more information are available at spacefacemusic.com.
This concert review was written by guest author and photographer Carissa Coughlin.