Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sky Saxon Benefit at the Echoplex

It was a true celebration of life at the Sky Saxon Benefit at the Echoplex. I knew little about Sky Saxon except for his contributions to the '60s psychedelic garage rock of The Seeds. By the end of the evening, you could almost get a sense that Sky's free spirit was somehow smiling over the touching tribute.

On a side note, The Smashing Pumpkins website recently announced that Billy Corgan and the Spirits in the Sky will play six shows between August 26 to August 31 in Los Angeles. I hope to catch a few of those shows.

Djin Aquarian
Djin Aquarian opened the evening with a Source Family benediction and a "Star Breathing Exercise" as a tribute to Sky Saxon before playing some songs on his acoustic guitar accompanied by a violin player.

Spirits in The Sky
Mike Byrne (New drummer for Smashing Pumpkins)

My original impression was that Spirits in the Sky would close out the evening but when I saw Billy Corgan's custom Fender Stratocaster waiting in the wings I knew something was up. Billy would eventually appear using a Gibson Hollowbody guitar to attack "Spirit In The Sky" and "900 Million People Daily (All Makin' Love)".

Billy stated they were going to do another Seeds cover but was informed the Seeds were going to play the particular song before introducing "Freak". Kerry Brown was on the drums for the first two songs then Mike Byrne switched to the drum kit for the "Smashing Pumpkins" tune. It was interesting seeing Billy onstage with street clothes playing guitar and having fun without the intense scrutiny of having to perform as Smashing Pumpkins. I can't recall a show in which I saw Billy smile so much.

Strawberry Alarm Clock
It was unfortunate that a sizable amount of the crowd exited after Billy left the stage. I wasn't going to give up that easily and was interested in seeing how the night would unfold. Strawberry Alarm Clock was up next and Billy was on the side of the stage rocking out throughout their set which included "Incense and Peppermints".

Electric Prunes
Who doesn't know the one and only Rodney Bingenheimer? Rodney proudly introduced the Electric Prunes who unfurled their wild psychedelic swirls of song. Their guitarist had a sweet purple Fender Stratocaster dialing up some trippy tones with his Digitech Space Station. Billy would later came out and play guitar on "Wind-Up Toys" and laughed after realizing his small guitar amplifier was without a microphone for most of the song.

Simon Stokes band

Didn't really catch the titles of the songs they played but Simon Stokes has some sweet pictures of him with Timothy Leary on his Myspace site. Trip out!

Mike Randle
Mike Randall played a Love song as a tribute to Sky Saxon.

Sofiziel played with Sky Saxon in Europe and recanted some small anecdotes about her times with Sky.

YaHoWhA 33

This wasn't listed on the original program but Kerry Brown (Drums) and Billy Corgan (Bass) joined Djin Aquarian onstage for a free flowing bass driven psychedelic grove jam.

Nels Cline

Nels Cline blew me away when I caught him at the Wiltern with Wilco. Nels was phenomenal performing one of his bizarre instrumental freak outs yelling into a toy megaphone and using delays on his guitar. I am convinced Nels is on a whole other planet in terms of "conventional" guitar playing.

The Seeds
It was approaching close to 1am by the time the Seeds had taken the stage. I just snapped a few pics before heading home. I needed to preserve some energy for Stephen Malkmus at the Echoplex.


Sabrina Smith aka Sophia said...

Hi ... I just wanted to say that this is one of the best blogs about the memorial for my late husband, Sky Sunlight Saxon. The photos you took are amazing! and it is so interesting that you said you had not seen Billy Corgan smile so much before .... Djin Aquarian said the same thing to me the day after the memorial. And you are so right that Sky's spirit was DEFINITELY there .... Thank you so much for a nice blog .... and if there is any way I can get copies of those photos or permission from you to use the photos that would be so great .... Just let me know.


Sabrina Saxon

P.S.: I linked to your blog from my facebook page ...

EasternMind said...

That was a fantastic blog! And yes, wonderful photos! I really wish I could have been there! What an honor for Sky!

All the best!