Mystic Braves – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 12th August 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Since 2013, Acid Box Promotions have carved a niche out of the Brighton music scene that has made them truly stand out. Focussing on “Psychedelic, garage rock, fuzz-fuelled nights” they’ve put on great gigs that have an intimate feeling and are put together with genuine love and care. Their latest night saw an arrival of L.A. psych descend on The Hope & Ruin with a joint tour between The Creation Factory and Mystic Braves. Both bands, along with Brightonians Buddha Blood, provided an enticing night of jangly, gloomy psychedelia.

Brighton’s Buddha Blood opened the proceedings with their brand of swaggering rock and roll meets psych. The last time we saw them as a five-piece was a while back with their Baywaves support slot in October, and it’s clear they’ve matured in the last ten months or so. At times, there’s an anthemic nature to their set but, switched up with laid-back surf rock vibes, there’s a more well-rounded sound to the band. Latest single, ‘Next to Me’, released a few weeks back, is a driving force with a darker side as well as a rhythmic and captivating chorus.

From L.A.’s The Creation Factory, however, the atmosphere changed to a heavier slice of Americana. With rattling guitar reverberations and clattering drum beats, this is a professional and high-class performance from a band that could and should be headlining a venue of this size. Playing songs from their self-titled debut album, the likes of ‘I Don’t Know What to Do’ and ‘Girl You’re out of Time’ have a 60s aesthetic, as if The Doors have fused with British invasion. It’s an anthemic, euphoric, and striking sound which went down incredibly well with the packed-out Hope & Ruin crowd.

From the opening notes, it’s already clear that Mystic Braves’ sound is far bigger than the surroundings of The Hope & Ruin. Like Ennio Morricone if he was hijacked by Syd Barrett, Mystic Braves’ sound is meandering, exciting and brimming with an incredible amount of depth. The likes of ‘Mystic Rabbit’, ‘Trippin’ Like I Do’ and ‘To Myself’ sound as fresh as ever, and so distinctly like Mystic Braves it could only come from them. There’s a looseness and freedom to the band, and a 60s ambience that is hard matched anywhere else.

Ending song, and by far their biggest crossover hit, ‘Bright Blue Day Haze’ is proof of their talent for a captivating riff. It’s loud and in your face, yet melodic and crafted with an immense amount of care. As a live band, too, they’re a cohesive unit constantly ebbing and flowing together like a well-oiled machine. It’s clear they love playing with each other and, five years since their self-titled debut, they’ve still got the material to delight. With a few new songs added in from their new album, Mystic Braves are still as exciting as ever.

Liam McMillen