Review by Jhoni Jackson; photos by Tim Song
The Runaway Suns call themselves ‘60s revivalists, and they’re not kidding. Their sound is a direct throwback to psych-rock’s heyday, when 13th Floor Elevators debuted and The Beatles started taking LSD. Rest assured, though, no one in the band was actually on psychedelics during the show (I think).
Hailing from Brooklyn, and well-situated in the city’s growing psych niche, the troupe looked like they materialized from Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. They had the entire time warp effect covered, including the aesthetics. Spanning the five-piece, I saw Janis Joplin-style spectacles, mop-top cuts and even tight-fitting, vertically striped pants.
Layered, octave-wandering vocals and Byrds-style guitar parts underscored by vibrating, organ-style keys made for jams as trippy as they were catchy. The entire band was generally lively, but frontman Danny Song was the band’s most energetic component. From spirited, borderline wacky facial expressions to wiggling down to his knees with guitar in tow, Song’s antics fully embodied the free-spirited vibe of the music. The crowd couldn’t help but groove along with him.
The majority of the members are Atlanta expats, each with individual histories in now-defunct local bands. Song even played in of my high school favorites, A Small Victory. However, with this show, they proved they’ve shed their southern charm and traded it for blasé psych-rock cool.
Sixties rebirth is a trend so steadfast and widespread that it’s easily riddled with clichés. But nothing about this band’s dedication to the decade’s most drug-fueled moments felt contrived or cheesy. The Runaway Suns’ brand of psych-rock was so eerily authentic that, in the midst of it all, I wondered if someone had slipped a psychedelic in my PBR.