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Roky Erickson and Evilhook Wildlife ET @ The El Rey 10/28

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For a night largely dedicated to tales of Lucifer and his minions, it was bit strange to look around the El Rey on Sunday night at a sea of smiling faces.

But Roky Erickson’s return to the LA stage for the first time in twenty-six years was cause for celebration. The audience - a family reunion of freaks, old punkers, and psychedelic survivors - received every devilish incantation as if it was a Christmas present. The gifts may have been overdue, but each was well worth waiting for.

Roky’s sad tale of great promise undone by mental illness has been told many times, most recently in the documentary film You’re Gonna Miss Me and the book Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson And The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, released this month by Process Media. Having seen (quite a bit of) him at his worst in the doc, there was a definite fear that this re-appearance could be a terrible embarrassment, the parading out of an addled, frightened man with no interest in his own music. With all the good will in the room that night, we might have even tolerated that. But from the second he walked out, looking alert and healthy, grinning widely and waving to his people, it was obvious that he is, really, back.