Miami Psych Fest performers Sugar Candy Mountain
Miami Psych Fest performers Sugar Candy Mountain
Photo by Yasamine June

The Perfect Trip: Miami Psych Fest Brings the Weird and Avant-Garde to Downtown Miami

With only one year under its belt, the Perfect Trip: Miami Psych Fest has achieved so much it's almost absurd. It has expanded from a single venue far from the fray to occupy both the Ground and Floyd. It has netted a miraculous lineup. And word of the festival has garnered attention from the likes of the Big Ears and Vision Festivals in Knoxville and Brooklyn, respectively, says organizer Adam Arritola (he prefers to go by just Adam).  What’s more, critic and anthropomorphic meme Anthony Fantano — the internet’s busiest music nerd — recently gave the festival a shout-out during a live stream. Though many festivals of a similar scale and ambition struggle out of the gate, Miami Psych Fest has had no problem asserting its identity or reaching its target audience.

“I honestly impressed myself,” Adam admits. The festival founder has every reason to take pride in this year’s edition of the Perfect Trip. In addition to curating a large and sonically diverse lineup worthy of its psychedelia-inspired aesthetic, Adam landed artists who likely wouldn’t perform in Miami were it not for the festival. Influential and legendarily reclusive experimental artist Jandek will play Miami for the first time. Beloved rap weirdo Kool Keith will perform as well, both in a solo set and in Clarence’s Renewable Resource Fund (CRRF), a collaborative tribute to the late Blowfly, the foulmouthed Miami musician who had a profound influence on both rap and the delicate art of song parody.

“CRRF is a freak ensemble that is the brainchild of Steven Bristol, who is producing and releasing Blowfly’s final [posthumous] album, Free Jizz," Adam explains excitedly. “Everyone in this lineup will tear this venue to shreds.”

The genesis of Miami Psych Fest lies in Adam’s lifelong love for exploring the outermost limits of sound. In his estimation, listeners cheat themselves by not checking out the myriad possibilities of recorded music. He views Miami Psych Fest as a way of spreading music that attendees might not otherwise hear.

“My life has been immersed in music for as long as I can remember,” he explains. “Many people need to abandon whatever understanding they think they have of music — and just surrender to it — by creating an event that is accessible enough to people of any group, [and with the help of magic mushrooms] I think that it is the best intro to the real world of music.”

The festival is the largest undertaking by Adam’s production company, Eclectic Overdrive. Even though Miami Psych Fest might be more visible than his other endeavors, his commitment to the avant-garde and the distinctly strange is year-round.

“[I want] to turn Eclectic Overdrive into a self-sustaining platform for positive thinking creators to upload, discover, and sell artistic content... and to throw festivals as often as time permits all over the world,” Adam explains. “Eclectic Overdrive is a project I will work on for the rest of my life.”

The way things are going thus far, he may very well be able to pursue his passion for as long as he sees fit. This year’s upgrade in venue, from the Bridge to the two downtown venues, came courtesy of a co-sign from International Noise Conference founder and Miami music figurehead Frank Falestra, perhaps better known to weird Miamians as Rat Bastard.

“The master, Rat Bastard, put in a good word with some of the folks at Space, and they were very happy to work with me,” Adam says, noting the growth this year’s venue change signifies.

Even with all of his achievements thus far, Adam is cognizant of the challenges Miami Psych Fest faces. He notes that, despite the array of talent residing in Miami, the city has not always been receptive, supportive, or even aware of its underground scene's offerings.

“Rat has been doing an incredible job with International Noise Conference for over a decade, and people are still sleeping,” Adam says. “I don’t think individual people that care to make extreme sacrifices can force positive change. If that was the case, the world would be much cooler. If Miami collectively got their shit together, it could be one of the most thriving music capitals in the world. All of that industry and ego bullshit has to go first. There are a lot of interesting minds here.”

Adam is determined to continue showcasing not only Miami but also the real, life-changing possibilities afforded by psychedelic culture and music. He wants to “wow people harder each and every year,” he says.

“Music is the language of the world, and the more familiar and comfortable people are with understanding this sometimes strange language, the more it can expand and enhance their experience of the world at large. I feel the performers all really understand what’s going on even with the wild spontaneity of the lineup. When you really love music, genre isn’t an issue.”

The Perfect Trip: Miami Psych Fest II. With Sugar Candy Mountain and others. 4:20 p.m. Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23, at Floyd and the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. Admission is free at Floyd from 4:20 to 10 p.m. and $20 per day at the Ground via ticketfly.com.

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