“Rolling Stone” magazine declared last year's Joshua Light Show at NYU's Skirball Center “the most psychedelic light show of all-time.” It doesn't mean we necessarily trust their judgment. However, the three-day music and light fest returns to Skirball this October 23-25th, where you can judge for yourself.
LA electro chanteuse Glasser and midwest free-jazz trio Bad Plus play opening night, where the latter is slated to perform Ornette Coleman's understated 1972 masterpiece “Science Fiction” in its entirety. Television, as well as J. Spaceman & Kid Millions, fill the Saturday night bill (10/25). But it's the middle show that “The Deli” is most interested in, where NYC psych-folk duo Woods bring their latest song cycle -- the appropriately titled “With Light and with Love” -- to glow beneath the shimmering colors on Friday the 24th.
For those unaware, “With Light” is Woods' eighth full-length since its inception in 2006. Mixing a steady diet of Grateful Dead-like jams with indie pop-vocals (think the Shins), the album spreads out into odd new directions this time around. From Bowie-like lyrical couplets to the occasional prog-rock trill, it is the band's crystalline effort to date. One which is sure to require more than a duo for the stage performance.
As to the Joshua Light Show, its most famous residency came at Bill Graham's Fillmore East rock club on “freaky Second Avenue,” where from March '68 'till it closed in June 1971, Joshua Light produced “Mondrianesque checkerboards, strawberry fields, orchards of lime, antique jewels, galaxies of light over a pure black void and, often, abstract, erotic, totally absorbing shapes and colors.” That's what the “New York Times” saw, at least. Founder Joshua White came to NYC after graduating from film school at USC in 1965. (Classmate George Lucas stayed on the West Coast and ran experimental light shows at Frank Zappa's Shrine Auditorium freak-outs of 1966-67.) White & co. re-emerged more recently as lighting designers for the 2008-11 Broadway revival of “Hair.” This latest fest showcases their ephemeral cinema with a well-deserved top-billing. - Brian Chidester