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Acidia Lightshow

 

    The Acidia Lightshow was the mainstay lighting crew for the Windsor free festivals and for the early years of Stonehenge. This article from an 1974 fanzine provides a good idea of their activities in the mid 70s .

    Acidia is the last of the big independent light shows operating in the UK . Specialising in mammoth twelve hour spectaculars and free festivals they are an enigma from the late sixties. The brains behind the current extravaganza originally started up in competition during the Summer of 69. John Andrews , artist , acid head and visionary , was based in Folkestone with his Mantis Lights , a small but aesthetically pleasing lightshow with a crew of three . Despite the high quality of the graphics used they lacked the power needed for large venues, which proved to be quite embarrassing at times .Mac Moody , on the other hand , a student at Canterbury teach, was getting it on with high powered projectors, but, due mostly to lack of decent photographic facilities , his slides and effects left quite lot to be desired.

    Still those were early days and the two light shows worked in fierce competition for a bout a year, operating mainly in London and Kent . Despite this early element of competition , they eventually decided to amalgamate for a giant bust benefit in Folkestone . On that night the link was formed. Power and imagery were fused and Acidia was born !
    The name sums it up as John explained to us 'We cater in the main for trippers . When we started we’d been every heavily into acid --- the whole psychedelic thing and I knew that hints rather than specific designs would prompt a reaction from our audience. Most of our material is purposely ambiguous to allow individual interpretation of what we’re up to. Now this is interesting because most people get off , but others freak out , it all boils down to where their heads are at --- cos we’re just putting up patterns ! '


    The light show was starting to get quite a good reputation by now and had progressed to a modern sized outfit using ten projectors operated by a crew of six. The Canterbury scene was beginning to lose momentum so our heroes decided to move to Bath . The local pseudo hip Arts Work shop didn't take too kindly to this sudden infiltration of their scene and so an uncompromising stance was assumed by both parties , resulting in a few bloody noses. Acidia survived unscathed and forged ahead, working nationally with the ill fated Bronco, a west coast influenced band featuring Jess Roden who'd the unfortunate habit of making singles too long to get any airplay
    This brings us up to 1973 . Things were starting to look a but grim. For christs sake what self respecting social sec is going to book a lightshow in 1973, what would his girlfriend say ! So in Autumn , the mighty roadshow trundled off to deepest Wales to do what seemed to be their last gig- a week log stint at Aberystwyth University.
    During the following year the team disbanded . Mac worked as a cobbler and John got involved with a few projects in the film industry , which included a brief dint with Halas and Batchelor , the cartoon company.
‘ Whilst I was with Halas and Batchelor , I learnt a lot of tricks which have now been employed by the light show. Mac does all of our animation Cos he’s got more patience than I have --- he’s built a really nice little studio in a converted caravan . I’ve applied what I've learnt mostly to building machines and designing slide sequences. I can't say too much about this stuff I’m working on at the moment , except that its going to add an incredible amount of impact to the show .

Above, Acidia light show , at Stonehenge 1975
Image courtesy of John Andrews Archive ©1969-2001

    In 1974 the dust and cobwebs were brushed from the year just in time to blow several thousand minds at the historic Windsor free festival . The three or four nights of high energy music and projection were nothing short of spectacular , culminating in a massive six hour performance by Zorch,.
    At last the lightshow had found the perfect musical vehicle to really exploit their talents. The full story of the Zorch /Acidia quest is related elsewhere . so it is sufficient to say that this wa the big turning point in Acidia's history.

    Since Zorch disbanded in June of last year , Acidia have been working steadily, slowly expanding their range of effects and equipment . They are now using 16 projectors , fairly evenly divided between slides, liquids, films and special Fx ,backed up by a small but efficient stage lighting system. Acidia leave for two weeks stay at Milkweg Multi media Centrum ( Amsterndam ) in July and will almost certainly make an appearance at one of the forthcoming Summer free festivals.

    We asked John what other plans these intrepid tripsters with their eyes on bigger things had for the future. ' We havent actually got any plans as such . although I can't see us jacking ti in for many years . The Amsterdam trip has given us the incentive to get everything together because at the moment the equipment is in a bit of a shambles . We intend to get about 10 more projectors before the year is out and were also starting to use lazers. !
\We do have one major project in hand that will be pretty interesting if it comes off . But for the moment I’m just getting into sticking hot projecter lamps up my bum '


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