If a band asks you to follow them into a dark shed for a show, it’s probably best to politely refuse, no matter how much you adore them. But in Frankie and the Witch Fingers’ case, it’s safe to say that following the band on-screen into the shed in question was a good decision, particularly because you didn’t have to be there in person.
Kicking off with an immersive, theatrical flair, Frankie and the Witch Fingers did indeed play their Levitation Sessions livestream in a dark shed. But within moments of entering the makeshift venue, the darkness faded away and the band members were magically swathed in colorful lights and wavering visual edits.
The band began with “Activate,” one of the more relaxed songs on its discography. But the performance was far from slow; the frantic drum pattered away with a fervent consistency. For a band that proudly proclaims itself “not your trip sitter, just your head splitter,” Frankie and the Witch Fingers more than lived up to the song’s title.
The livestream gave off an air of modern psychedelia, but with a direct connection to the atmosphere of the 1960s — think the 13th Floor Elevators. Lead singer Dylan Sizemore’s echoing vocals were smooth and miraculously discernable despite all the distortion and effect-laden music. The band was able to harness a rich but energetic sound, not sacrificing fullness for fast-paced instrumentals.
The ending drone on “Activate” transitioned perfectly into “Reaper,” a similarly slow song. It was a strange choice for the band not to come out swinging with a fast song like “Knife Fight,” but its strategy ultimately proved effective in building up the intensity throughout the show. “Reaper” was a heavy performance — as heavy as bright psychedelia can get — and it boasted solid riffs and a crunchy bass. Frankie and the Witch Fingers really played into the highs and lows of the song, explicitly dragging out calmer sections and then bursting into the intense parts.
Armed with swirling rainbow effects and camera angles shifting like PowerPoint transitions, the band began picking up the pace. “Sweet Freak” and “Where’s Your Reality?” were unwavering in their distorted instrumentals and quickly established themselves as catchy, danceable numbers. “Where’s Your Reality?” was a particularly dynamic song with soulful guitar solos and twangy improvisations. Viewers could clearly see all the members vibing together, playing off of each other’s spontaneity, even after a recent and drastic lineup change.
The band did hit a few bumps with regards to the overall tone and attempts to improvise organically. A few times, the jams that closed out songs stagnated as the band failed to bring out any engaging techniques and opted to play the same riff repeatedly. While this was effective in numbing the brain in a lysergic manner, it wasn’t clear if this was the intention.
Its rendition of “Realization” was also not as punchy as the studio version and would have, shockingly, benefitted from a cleaner tone. But the song was sure to grow on you in the second half, where the overly distorted nature found a sweet groove.
The band certainly redeemed itself on “Dracula Drug,” perfectly capturing the slow, building intro and launching into the full beat with attitude-filled vocals. Here, the group appropriately added little fills and effects to improve the song, a much-appreciated technique to keep things fresh in a live show instead of just playing a cover. The performance was exceptionally energetic for the entire nine minutes.
Frankie and the Witch Fingers’ livestream was not only fun for the audience, but it was clear the band itself was thoroughly enjoying the performance. The heavy distortion and colorful visuals were a bit excessive but fit well into the band’s goal of bringing psychedelia to its fans sans the substances. While the band may have suffered from some shortcomings in an effort to maintain the originality of its music, it had no shortage of talent and phenomenal execution when it came to playing a majority of the set, and it has proved itself a psychedelic garage rock force to be reckoned with.