Words by Kathleen Savage
This year on Easter Sunday, I was fortunate enough to be visited by the white rabbit himself as he lead me deep into the belly of Helgi’s for a night of far-out whimsy with MOOF Magazine. I found no chocolate eggs inside the rabbit hole, but I did find some heavy psychedelic indulgence (and cookies that were shaped like mushrooms.)
First to perform was Dan Davies of Wolf People, incense smoke danced amongst Nick Drake tinged melodies as he played without a microphone; Invoking living-room levels of intimacy. The mellow evening sun shone into the room as we silently listened to sleepy fingerpicking and poetic lyrics; much akin to John Martyn’s earlier sound. The smell of Frankincense and the walls decorated with images of the occult gave off the feeling of a very unorthodox Easter Sunday service, and it was only going to get more unholy as the night came undone.
Deeper into Helgi’s lair, the sun had crept away and the only form of light were a few moody candles on stage – it was time for some Cretan stoner rock in the form of Balothizer. Usually described as a ‘power trio’, tonight they came as a two-piece due to one of their members getting arrested the previous night; a story that certainly lent itself to the sinful theme of the evening. Despite the missing member, they still managed to fill the stage with a fiery dose of energy and I found the drummer particularly captivating; his arms multiplying themselves like Shiva as he erupted into rhythmic trance. Mediterranean riffs nestled themselves amongst heavy guitar fuzz and it was equal parts explosive as it was exotic. Had I been none the wiser, I would never have guessed they were missing a member.
Our outlandish Sunday service was in full swing, and GNOB took to the stage to bring us some heavy psychedelia with a fiendish twist. A woman adorned in a black velvet cape and a tribal mask joined them on stage as she commanded the congregation and led the night-time ritual. Freaky video visuals were projected onstage, visions of white noise complimented the fuzzy guitars. A goat’s skull sat centre stage surrounded by dripping wax candles as the velvet lady smeared fake blood upon the band members, and at the time it all made perfect sense. The heavy stoner-psych trio sounded almost primal at times, and much like the previous band they had an exotic element that ran through each of their songs. The lysergic sounds wound themselves around deep fuzz and mystical guitar, all the while our black magic woman compelling the audience as she blew a mysterious white powder into our faces. Her cultic tribal mask and odd ceremonial gestures almost made me feel uncomfortable at times; yet it was beguiling and hypnotic – something I don’t think I will forget for a long time.
DJ’s played an eclectic yet suitable mixture of psych, glam rock, heavy rock and garage tunes until the early hours whilst liquid lights projected themselves upon the walls. I watched as paisley dresses danced amongst a room scattered with lava lamps whilst a familiar T.Rex song was playing, and I once again felt I could be at an infamous 1960s club. As I made my way from room to room, I noticed a tarot reader sat elusively at a table; and I thought that this could possibly be the only place in London where I can get my fortune told, with a cocktail in hand, whilst Black Sabbath serenades me in the background. Thank you to MOOF Magazine for creating a space where all of these strange delights are possible, and where like-minded people can come together and turn a sleepy sunday evening into a night of psychedelic worship and debauchery at the church of Helgi’s.
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