We know it’s already been a few years since Austin Psych Fest rebranded to LEVITATION but nostalgia carries a powerful sway on sentimental writers. In truth, the rebranding is in name only as our favorite spring music festival has nurtured its acid-soaked, chilled-out vibe as the backdrop to an ever eclectic series of lineups curated by members of festival founders The Black Angels.
This weekend (fest kicks off Thursday with pre-shows listed here) marks the ninth year for the once tiny psych rock festival that now commands over 10,000 fans a day from all corners of the globe at Carson Creek Ranch minutes from downtown Austin.
This year’s lineup is better than ever with performances slated from Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Flying Lotus, Courtney Barnett and The Arcs (Dan Auerbach). You should catch all those acts but we want to make sure some of the bands listed further down the bill don’t escape your attention so we’ve listed five less obvious acts. Ok 40% are headliners, but the bulk are local bands we go out to see on a regular basis. This is your chance to catch some of Austin’s best musicians so dig in…
Christian Bland – 4:20p – Friday – Reverberation Stage
Guitarist for The Black Angels, Christian Bland has his own band (The Revelators) and they’re damn good. Seriously, Bland’s work has always been derivative of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd among others. Now he regularly includes a Barrett-penned song in his setlist. In addition to his own work and that of The Black Angels this artist’s’ repertoire is about as diverse as a psych-rocker could get inside the genre.
Several years of performing with The Revelators has honed the band into a hypnotic-inducing wonder-machine with Bland at the center working foot pedals and effects knobs to twist sounds into something otherworldly. It sound too good to be true, but this act is the real deal just like the town they live in.
Holy Wave – 5:50p – Friday – Levitation Tent
Holy Wave’s sound to us is the best example of neo-psych rock you could put in front of virgin ears. At least, that is how we think of this young act. They dropped their third album, Freaks of Nuture last month with a short tour to support the new record.
Originally based in El Paso and more recently Austin, the group employs equal doses of surf rock, psychedelic and rock music in their work. Since they’ll be in the tent, fans will get treated to their signature light show which typically features traditional gels and projections similar to what Grateful Dead fans used to see in the early days.
Slowdive – 11:25p – Friday – Reverberation Stage
With influences ranging from Pink Floyd to The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, throwback UK act, Slowdive is one of those rare treasures often found on the LEVITATION bill. Last year the festival brought in Jesus and Mary Chain with Primal Scream. This year Slowdive fills those goth shoes.
Who knows how long this legacy act will remain reformed? This seems reason enough to include the band in our list besides the fact they’re pioneering shoegazers. Like last year’s incredible 90’s band performances we’re hoping for an exceptional set.
Annabelle Chairlegs – 1:15p – Saturday – Elevation Stage
After witnessing multiple sets from Annabelle Chairlegs in the last year we have grown fond of this pop-psych rock outfit that makes their home in Austin. Sugar-coated vocals delivered by Lindsay Mackin are tempered by Matt Schweinberg’s blistering guitar work and a tight rhythm section.
From the LEVITATION website:
“The band incorporates punk, scuzz rock, and psychedelia into their sound to back up Lindsey’s lyrics, whose topics range from ladies in heaven talking to ladies in hell (Lady In Heaven), prostitutes (Street Urchins), river sirens (Passaic River), disgruntled goths (All Black In The Sun), and songs about stomping out the pegs on a ladder just to see your enemies fall (On The Ladder).”
Check out their tunes by clicking the link above.
Ween – 9:15p – Sunday – Reverberation Stage
Like most music fans, we are stoked Ween has re-formed for this year’s festival. It’s been over 20 years since we have seen this incredibly fun duo perform. We’re also cautiously optimistic they’ll make it to and through the set without incident despite Aaron Freeman’s well-documented struggle with substance abuse. It was Freeman’s reckless behavior that broke up the duo with major cult status.
So far reports on their tour include epic-length performances in Denver as part of a successful three-night stand. Fingers crossed the bizarre band similarly delivers on a highly anticipated performance.