Insects vs. Robots Bring a Revivalist Spirit to LA Psych Fest

Categories: festivals

Rebecca Joelson
Venice-based experimental rockers Insects vs. Robots sparked attention six years ago in a church-turned-music venue called The Sanctuary in Santa Monica. The 100-year-old church offered them more than artistic freedom and killer acoustics, it evoked a reaction during their performances that encouraged their exploratory path into psychedelic folk-rock. The Sanctuary shows lead to a DIY warehouse festival and eventually landed them on stages at last year's Farm Aid, and Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit. Now set for their second appearance at The LA Psych Fest on Saturday, Insects vs. Robots continue to thrive in eclectic settings.

The inaugural LA Psych Fest kicked off in 2012, organized by Insects vs. Robots drummer Tony Peluso and LA underground music fixture Mikel Farber. Farber, who worked with IVR during their string of dates at The Sanctuary, founded the festival with Peluso and fellow organizer Ali Kellogg in hopes of bringing the spirit of the Austin Psych Fest to Los Angeles. This year, drummer Peluso stepped out of an organizing role to settle into the performance aspect of the festival.

The band credits Farber with actively supporting underground acts, confirmed by their fellow artists on the Psych Fest lineup which include a gamelan gong group, flamenco guitarists, and Seattle psych-rockers Rose Windows. "There are so many people who put on little events in the LA music world, and Mikel just happens to be one of the nicest, most soft spoken people who's only in it for the music," says bassist Jeff Smith. "Mikel and Ali are trying hard to make Psych Fest less about the usual bands you see around town, and more about bringing together an eclectic lineup."

Insects vs. Robots will debut the vinyl edition of their self-titled, third album at the upcoming Psych Fest show. Smith shares that the album serves as a calling card for the band, produced and engineered with the help of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros sound engineer, Matt Linesch. The album is heavy on vibe and pulsating with experimental spirit, staying true to IVR's earlier work but also showing growth and cohesiveness.

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