Psychedelic Sangha’s Bardo Bath II With Garcia Peoples, Jesse Jarnow and Macrodose

Psychedelic Sangha’s latest event was a night of cathartic release and a feast for the senses.

Once again held under the gilded dome of Brooklyn’s historic Weylin building, this Bardo Bath featured abstract sculptures, heady vendors selling everything from blotter art to used records and, of course, two monumental jams from Garcia Peoples and Jesse Jarnow.

The first set was a great rumbling wash of shimmery sound that grew taller and taller until it eventually surged forward like a hungry wave. We all laid back on the floor or on some yoga mats and let it flow over and through us. Shades of Popol Vuh, Matt LaJoie and the Gunn-Truscinski Duo occasionally sprung to mind as the band played hypnotic interstellar grooves.

Over Garcia Peoples’ heads, Macrodose spin giant neon hexagons and kaleidoscopic boiling colors that squelched and throbbed like gargantuan warring amoebas. Meanwhile, Jarnow, the legendary writer, WFMU DJ and perhaps today’s leading freak scholar, twisted up and remixed the band’s sound in real time, while ricocheting various samples across the temple-like space. It was sometimes hard to tell if you were actually hearing Jarnow bending and distorting the band’s sound from his control station, or if you had more “refreshments” than you remembered.

The second set hosted a slightly more lively crowd, and the Peoples fed off of that revved-up late Friday night energy and locked into a chugging locomotive boogie that was both deeply cosmic but also deliciously sludgy. Jarnow continued mixing in layers of disorienting effects and filters to the music while also adding to its meditative ambience with things like legendary Grateful Dead taper Doug Oade’s high-fidelity field recordings of ocean waves.

Doc Kelley and Ethan Covey, the founders of the Psychedelic Sangha organization, once again began and completed each set with a guided meditation that certainly helped everyone push out the darkness and madness of the outside world out of the building. They also greeted everyone at the door with a small metal dish asking if you’d like to participate in the Buddhist tradition of feeding the hungry ghost. They invited you to either burn play or real money to ceremoniously rid you of your attachments.

In Buddhist cultures, “hungry ghosts” (better known as pretas) are supernatural beings who suffer from an insatiable craving that can only be calmed by being fed sacrificed money and food. Feeding them our worldly possessions serves as a powerful metaphor for setting ourselves free from our own greed and attachments.

After the second set came to a close, Jarnow lead a procession from the Weylin steps to the bank of the East River as Kelley carried the ashes of the burnt offerings to ritualistically dump them into the water.

To keep the gang of heads from getting lost, Jarnow carried aloft a tall stick that bore a few flags, including one that just said “yes,” a reference to Yoko Ono’s infamous Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting, which is an affirming message of possibility and open-mindedness, which Psychedelic Sangha has adopted as a symbol of their general philosophy. We all passed joints between each other, invited curious onlookers to join in and some blared mystical music from portable speakers that they carried with them as we strolled down to Domino Park.

Once we arrived at the water’s edge, Kelley gave a speech to remind us of the spirit of the ritual and the evening in general.

“We burnt our greed and therefore sated the hungry ghost. Read into that metaphor. These are our attachments, and we’re going to dump them in the river because it is the right thing to do.”

While declaring “fuck capitalism!” into the chilly December air, Kelley tossed the ashes over the railing’s edge, and it carried off with the breeze in a grey, spectral-like cloud.

Being so close to the holidays it felt so good to be reminded that the money spent on tickets, or metro rides or whatever that brought us together on this night didn’t matter. It was actually being there together with these spiritually, musically and cosmically likeminded people that truly mattered. The warm sense of belonging and familial acceptance and connection that flowed out from everywhere at the Weylin, from the organizers and the audience to the secluded chill-out room and even the vendors is what’s going to get us through these increasingly dark and dangerous times. The message was clear: Find your community or make one. Then revel in it. We’re all we’ve got.

-KH

Click here to find out more about Psychedelic Sangha and here to pick up some sweet, sweet Garcia Peoples tunes.

Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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