Review of Day 1 at the first Strange Daze, 30 August 1997, Sherman, New York.

Day 1 of the most incredible space rock festival ever:

After helping roadie the gear back onto the van following the Coney Is. High show in NYC, we hit the road about 4am towards Sherman NY. After about 9hrs of driving plus a 2hr nap at a roadside rest area, we arrived before the end of the set by Nucleon. This band was mostly a rock-type band, not much 'space' in their rock. Good, gave us time to set up the tent and get our recording gear together.

When ST37 hit the stage, we were set up. This Texas band was pretty good, better than their 6yr old CD 'Invisible College'. A bit noisy, a bit clashing at times rather than melodic, still a pretty decent set by a large band (maybe 6-7 folks on stage). Managed to pick up their CD for $8 after the show. They also had copies of their split EP with VocoKesh, but I decided that vinyl would be too hard to keep up with and passed.

Next was Archetectural Metaphor. Except for Nik and HW, this band was the highlite of the weekend for me. Their live set was dripping with the styles of Ash Ra Temple and the like, with liquid guitar solos, and haunting vocals from the percussionist. This trio is absolutely incredible. Their new CD blows away their first one, and their Strange Daze set blew away their new CD! Catch'em if you get a chance, they are better than they have ever been. There cover of "Golden Void" is one of the best covers by any band, of any HW tune.

Next came F/i. They walked onstage, and stated that it had been a long hard trip to get to the festival, and that they'd blown their engine on the long drive from Wisconsin. Still, they cranked it up and cooked. Definitely another great band to watch. Heavier space rock with lots of blubbling whooshes. I could be losing it, but I seem to recall a longhaired, bearded blonde fellow in a bright orange jacket playing an electric cello! This fellow was up all nite that nite :-), as best as I can tell, since the F/i and ArcMet tents were right near ours.

I made sure to pick up their CD, and found it even better then the live set. (then again, maybe I just wasn't familiar with their songs). I *did* think that their set here was an improvement over their NYEve set on the Angels of Death tribute band tape. Their new CD is called "Helioscopium", and they brought about 100 copies to sell - hot off the press. A terrific collection of space rock songs.


Then, THE MAN. Nik Turner, backed by Farflung with special guest guitarist Steve Taylor (from Sun Machine). The most incredible Nik show I've ever seen or heard (since he went solo). This man has not had a backing band as good as these guys since he left HW! Nik poured a tremendous amount of energy into his performance and his vocals, and the band turned on a dime right with him.

Nik had broken his leg earlier in the week (rumor was a motorcycle accident), and arrived on crutches that afternoon. He moved slow, and plopped down on the grass to speak to visitors and watch the earlier shows when he got there. Nik's head is now clean shaven. Not a good sign about the leg. Soooo, the roadies came up with an alternate solution for the show...

When the band came on stage, Nik was not present. A large black box with a cloth over it was brought out and placed in the center of the stage, right near the mic. A spaceman dressed in white with glowing white X-mas tree lights all over him came flowing out onto the stage (this is Scotty the HW lightman), and the music built up into a proper intro. Then, Nik came out of the box wearing a tan-colored rubber suit with long rubber spikes protruding from it in all directions. The spaceman continued to dance, and was joined by a black-robed monster-masked figure wearing a glowstik around the neck. Together with the 5 band members plus Nik himself, as well as a flame blower lurking at the rear of the stage, there were 9 folks on stage several times during the show!

Nik's rubber outfit must have concealed some supports for his cast, as he was able to stand in place and do some hobbling from side to side during the show.

The songs were all great, with a tremendous amount of energy from both the band and especially Nik. The usual Nikwind tunes showed up, including Watching the Grass Grow, Dragon Rider (GREAT!), Ejection, Master of the Universe, and Shouldn't Do That. The show ran from 10pm until midnite without a break.

Lots of smiles all around, some solo flute from Nik, at least 4 or 5 songs from Farflung's last two CDs also found their way into the mix. The Farflung sound is that heavy space rock sludge played in a very fluid manner, with loud guitars in a not-complex liquid pattern, with a fast tempo where you just can't stop bouncing. Tommy Grenas was layed out over a bank of MOOG synths, and played almost no guitar. Steve Taylor was front and center for the leads, although this band is a jamming band rather than center-solo type of music.

Best of all, Nik Turner and Farflung will be playing two dates this week. I *think* it is in Cleveland on Tuesday and Chicago a couple of days later, but I knew I wouldn't make it so didn't pay attention.

Nik Turner's show revealed him in PEAK performance. Even with a broken leg, even in his late fifties (older than Dave), even with a backup band that was swapped at the last minute for a different backup band, Nik was absolutely fucking incredible. Hawkwind was going to really have to kick it out to beat out Nik's show.

Captain Cloud