In a 90-minute concert filled with images of vampires, demons and multi-headed hounds, the most striking imagery did away with B-movie specters. It was late in the evening when Roky Erickson — once thought to be a causality of the psychedelic rock era — sang "Goodbye Sweet Dreams." It's a heartbreakingly simple sentiment, but one that humanized Erickson's nightmare visions.
With his howling rock 'n' roll work in the '60s with the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson is credited as a pioneer of the psychedelic movement. The decades that followed, however, were marked by battles with mental illness, and the resulting music flirted with the bizarre and the macabre.
He was paired Tuesday at the Music Box @ Fonda with exquisite roots rock force by Okkervil River, which supported the Austin, Texas, artist on his recent Anti-Records album, "True Love Cast Out All Evil," Erickson sang about walking with zombies and killing strangers. Today, however, he owns a voice that's gruff, commanding and more than a little worn, and the 62-year-old's tales of horror were remade into songs of survival.
"Once I had love, and you never return," Erickson sang on "Goodbye Sweet Dreams," his voice tattered with age, and cracking ever-so-slightly in the chorus. Okkervil frontman-guitarist Will Sheff led a slow build of distortion and fuzz-stoked guitars, a gradual swelling of noise that underscored the song's sense of inevitable failings.