Psychedelic Funhouse at Digital, Review: A hallucinogenic but costly night

Psychedelic Funhouse is a  club night that travels the country, and last weekend it came to Newcastle’s Digital, one of the city’s most popular clubs. Its website promises ‘a kaleidoscopic adventure via altered realities, surreal experiences and other worlds with mind bending entities’ and promises you will be ‘fully engrossed’.

Its psychedelic décor of neon drapes, netting and occasional arm chairs brought colour to the venue. But apart from the main stage there were only two prominent examples of this decor: a laundrette, with tastefully-hung, fluorescent socks and garish soap powder boxes; and a brain examination area, complete with a grizzly yet quirky brain scanning device. But it was unclear how these were supposed to enhance your night. After the few seconds of interest they stirred, they were not that interactive.

Psychedelic Funhouse
Psychedelic Funhouse

The stage nevertheless compensated for some of these shortfalls. The DJ and dancers were dressed like the funkier subconscious desires of Terrance McKenna (the founder of the modern psychedelic movement), mixed with Godzilla’s neo-goth phase ­­– which I consider a compliment. Meanwhile, their sexy lizard dancing, use of a confetti canon and the giving out of inflatable guitars all added to the audience ‘s excitement excited. These inflatable objects clearly fitted the club setting, but others did not make so much sense. I still cannot fathom why we were given inflatable fire extinguishers!

The music is always the centre piece of a night out, and Psychedelic Funhouse’s mostly consisted of solid house and UK garage, as well as some decent hip hop and R&B. Not only was it good to dance to, but the tracks were also good to listen to in themselves. Yet I was not convinced that the music fitted the psychedelic atmosphere as there was little psytrance. Aside from the music, people’s enthusiasm helped make the night, with many arriving in tie-dyed tops and neon hair. Other club-goers danced like mad, occasionally shredding on their inflatable guitars.

Psychedelic Funhouse
Psychedelic Funhouse

But it is not a compliment to the organisers when the crowd makes the night a success. Some of what its Facebook event page had promised – such as games, trippy UV face painting and barrels of glow-in-the-dark body paint that you could dip your hands into – were not available by the time I arrived. If you are going to run an event from 8pm to 3am, you should not be running out of things to do by midnight.

There was much to like about Psychedelic Funhouse. I appreciated its mischievous tone and how its look combined horror and the hallucinogenic. The problem was not even that I had a bad time. But if something costs you £20, it should be more than simply a good night: it should be an amazing night. Ultimately, there was too little to do, and what on offer was not enough to ‘make’ the night and distinguish it from any others.

But on the plus side a drag queen complimented me on my half-arsed attempts to look vaguely psychedelic, so it cannot be all bad.

Psychedelic Funhouse was on at Digital, Newcastle on 27 April.