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A Trippy New Year

The WOW Hall lights up New Year's Eve with a safe-space psych-rock ball
The ball features a liquid light show by Mad Alchemy. Photo: Mad Alchemy.

For many, New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration and rebirth. For others, it’s one of the most dangerous nights of the year. 

“People who don’t usually go out go out and don’t know how to handle themselves,” says Gen Schaack of Eugene group Musicians Against Sexual Violence (MASV). “It’s a prime time for sexual assault.”

With this in mind, MASV collaborated with Tim Khadafi of Eugene band Snow White to present the Eugene Psychedelic Ball, an 11-band psychedelic rock show on New Year’s Eve at the WOW Hall.

The organizers behind the Psychedelic Ball are promoting it as a safe space, meaning, in Schaack’s words:

“A safe space is a place where you can go and dress how you feel and act how you feel to represent yourself. You can be comfortable in knowing people are going to be looking out for you and asking your consent to be involved with you on a sexual or just a personal level.”

MASV and the bands involved hope to foster an environment in which anyone who is the target of unwanted attention can feel safe speaking to a staff member. Likewise, MASV encourages anyone who sees potentially predatory behavior in the crowd to speak out.

“We’d rather the offender be removed than the victim not have a good time,” says Lauren Hay, Khadafi’s partner in Snow White.

Khadafi hatched the idea for the Psychedelic Ball long before becoming involved with MASV. A lover of psychedelic music and culture, he ticks off as inspiration the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, shows at The Fillmore, “happenings” and bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. 

Khadafi sees the Psychedelic Ball as part of a tradition dating back to the 1960s — one of peace, love and the power of music — a tradition he finds to be frequently misunderstood. 

“It’s not, like, ‘let’s twirl around in the daisies and have free sex’,” he says. “It’s about basic respect and empathy for all humans. I want to collaborate with any artist who has those same inklings of empathy and awareness.”

Khadafi spent the past two years booking the bands and securing a venue. The WOW Hall had New Year’s Eve available, a date he says coincided nicely with a night where safe spaces are sorely needed. 

The lineup includes local bands like Surfs Drugs as well as better-known outfits like Psychomagic, signed to buzzy label Lolipop, and Portland stalwart rockers The Shivas. Four smaller acts — Crown Chakra, Thom Simon, Sacred Trees and Creep Creep Janga — will play downstairs in the bar.

Khadafi also managed to snag a real, live liquid light show artist. For those unfamiliar with psychedelic culture, liquid light shows are the source of most of the trippy effects you might see behind Jimi Hendrix or the Dead in old ’60s concert clips. The light show is created by moving layers of colored oil and alcohol under the heat of a lamp, and few people, according to Khadafi, put on better liquid light shows than Lance Gordon of San Francisco collective Mad Alchemy.

“He’s a far-out dude,” Khadafi says of Gordon. “He’s going to make the Hall the most beautiful living art you’ve seen in a long time.” And, weather permitting, there will also be a liquid light show projected on the exterior of WOW Hall.

The Shivas, Snow White, Psychomagic and eight other bands kick off New Year’s Eve 7:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 31, at the WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door. All ages.