We Saw This: Psychic Ills
Like a sack of Jawbreakers, the powder slammed my thighs heavy to the couch while a light throng of patrons lounged alongside me in the Bowery Ballroom's lobby. A so-called historic blizzard was slated to hit the next night, but these kids were in it to win it.
About an hour earlier I chased an MDMA tab with the dregs from my friend Billy's beer. Two nights before, a coworker of mine—a bubbly, kind 21-year-old—visited my apartment to drop off the two doses. "So…" I started. "How… do I do this again?" I was hazy with the memory of previous molly experiences (the first time involved gin and Four Loko, the second 2C-B and a three-story house stuffed with Portland's remaining candy ravers). She smiled and shrugged. "Just have fun with it!"
I had seen Psychic Ills before at Mercury Lounge, and they were spellbinding. With the new album, One Track Mind, I expected an even more captivating audio journey, and with the ecstasy blissfully chugging through my small body, perhaps even a physical and spiritual pilgrimage. I watched Billy's eyes as she blinked at me. The pupil swallowed most of her iris, leaving a thin, golden-green belt before turning white. Coordination in my fingertips ebbed, retreating to my core, further fastening me put. Faces behind an absurdly wide-range of glasses frames took on a faint glow, and my stomach churned in tiny somersaults, like I had spotted a lusty crush on the other side of the bar. My heart elevated, seemingly nearly kissing my ribs. I mentally prepped myself for the euphoria to curl around me, tucking limbs into a pleasantly numb embrace.
Cross-armed with icy digits, I watched the opener, White Hills. Their inclusion on the bill made sense, fleshing out the psych-rock evening. But the performance was boring. Yes, all the hair flipping—especially that by bassist Ego Sensation's cartoonish, platinum curls—entertained to a certain extent, but the music lamely tooted along like a bunny with a twisted ankle. Back to the lobby while I waited for the white powder to hit my lady regions, the way it did on the West Coast. That time the sensation fucking electrified. The threads in my jeggings didn't offer much sensation, even when I sat crossing and uncrossing my legs (discretely, of course [oh God, I hope so]). I see a dude in the lobby donning a button-down decorated with Zack Morris' vomit. I develop a staring problem with the patterns. Billy is doing OK as we re-enter the main space. She looks like her normal, chilled self. I feel cold not hot like how ecstasy usually renders its user. More people fill the room as Psychic Ills' liquid paisleys pour out and I feel a little warmer.
Elizabeth Hart (bass) moves like a demented flame when she plays. Her eyelids hang half-mast, her lips forever parted in a pout. She is incredibly sexy. Zack Morris Guy is in the house again as well—standing inches away. I stare like a dope and he keeps gawking behind me at the roped-off second level. I wonder if he is on something, too, or just a bit moronic. The band sounds smooth. Much tighter since I last saw them. "Might Take A While" rose my serotonin more than whatever the fuck I took. The guitar plinks awareness along my jawline. I realize I'm clenching my gum in between my molars. Sedated, my gaze bounces from ZMG and Hart and the visuals. The visuals drop and blop like ice cream jimmies and blood. Billy pokes my shoulder and motions to the second floor and suddenly ZMG seems slightly less slow. A small clump of people leaning over a microscope with a myriad of tools and liquids, creating images projected over the band. The sounds grows sludgier.
Someone behind me starts to foot stomp but maybe it was just my leg shaking. "I Get By" drips out. At this point, there is no way to describe the bassist's style other than air-humpy. Billy sips her beer. My mouth feels dry. Sunbursts erupt across Hart's gaping trap and closed eyes. She is a stoned vulture in Cleopatra jewelry. I wonder how many people in the crowd will end their evening diddling themselves to the memory of her rocking image. At under an hour, the stage clears. Half-assed whoops for an encore happen but the encore part doesn't. Attendees stand vacantly, catching up with social media. When I look up, I don't see ZMG. I feel slightly disappointed. I begin to wonder if this was bum molly. Earlier my footing felt velvety and a little unstable, now I'm aware of hip pains from morning sex. "I still don't feel like I'm rolling," Billy says to me when we reconvene in the lobby over vodka. We shrug and head off to a Chinatown bar that plays Eminem. I'm a little disappointed—that 1) I bought and ingested what might have just been FunDip in a plastic cap but moreso 2) that Psychic Ills played such a short set. Just as I, the crowd, and the band sank into a captivating groove, they pulled the plug. Psychic Ills live in Brooklyn. I live in Brooklyn. I'll see them again and it'll be even better; hopefully longer. And by then, maybe my drug copping skills will be, too.
Photos by Nadia Chaudhury