Moon Duo, or perhaps rather, Moon Trio as a live act these days, gave a space-rock masterclass at at jam-packed Rough Trade on Monday night, celebrating the release of new album Shadow of the Sun, which is out now on Sacred Bones.
Opening the show was Laced, a side-project of Beach Fossils' Dustin Payseur, they don't stray too far from his day job with bright guitar tones very much to the fore.
Up next was Advaeta, a local trio with whom I wasn't previously familiar. Their first song ventured into Slits territory for a while but the majority of their songs blurred the lines of shoegaze and krautrock with fuzzy guitar sounds. It was refreshing to see a band who seemed to enjoy playing, most notably drummer Lani Combier-Kapel, with her penchant for tom-tom rhythms.
Things were starting to heat up in the venue as everyone was still getting used to slightly-above freezing temperatures, but the heat seemed appropriate as Moon Duo took to the stage a little after 10pm. The band were swamped in a red glow from a rear projector, switching up colours of horizontal lines for the rest of the show. The result was simple but effective, with your attention often drawn to the band's silhouette.
Whilst some acts could be criticised for being a bit one-paced, Moon Duo's almost one-dimensional outlook translates into a multi-dimensional vibe. Repeated rhythms lay the foundation for Ripley Johnson to go wild on his guitar in true space-rock fashion. It's best not to analyse the music too much but just let yourself be swept away by it. This is certainly how many attendees went about things, reactions range from zombie-like sways to more furious head nodding.
It's that straight-and-narrow rhythmic bedrock that pulls you in, as stubbornly hugging to a template actually frees the music, with any subtle change lighting up your senses. It's enough to make you think that music itself is the best mind-altering drug.