Photos – Moon Duo at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Dec 7 2012
– photos by Kirk Chantraine
Though now based in Colorado, Moon Duo follows in a long tradition of San Francisco psychedelia.
True to their name, the band is a duo, consisting of Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada. The Blue River-based twosome is touring to promote Circles, a psyche-drone long-player that follows in the trance-y footsteps of the band’s 2010 debut full-length Mazes and a few EPs. They stopped in at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver Friday night towards the end of their 2012 tour. (They play Seattle tonight, Dec 8.)
The sound is psyche-drone-rock perfection, guitar and synth that glide along programmed beats and buried (especially live; you might be able to make out the odd phrase in the recordings, if you care to) vocals. Johnson provides most of the singing, Yamada joins in on choruses, such as they are.
They strike an odd pair, the exotic beauty with indie-rock bangs and face lost in her long hair as she turns on the beats and hits a few keys, the greybeard on guitar. The set had peaks and valleys and we watched from the side, but for Circles’ “Free Action”, the last song of the set (before the encore), I stood in front of the p.a. and was lost in the 10-minute drone-rock maelstrom.
Circles‘ producer Phil Manley of Maryland instrumental rock group Trans Am was one of two openers (the other was Mirror Lake, whom we did not see) under the guise of another duo, Life Coach. The band featured Manley on guitar and effects and a drummer. Much of Life Coach’s set sound like intros to songs, but some fully-formed instrumentals also worked their way out of the din, and the addition of a live drummer to the psyche-rock was welcome, and powerful. In all, a suitably trippy opener for Moon Duo.