[EVENT RECAP] Austin Psych Fest 2014: Part 1
In this beautiful city that I call my home, there is ALWAYS something going on; being deemed the Live Music Capital of the World comes with its responsibilities. The buzz is always about the ACL lineup or SXSW, but what if you just expanded your mind outside the confines of the city?
I had the pleasure of attending Austin Psych Fest this year, an independent festival produced by The Reverberation Appreciation Society. This production team of 4 consists of Alex Maas and Christian Bland of The Black Angels, as well as Oswald James and Rob Fitzpatrick. This year marked the 7th year since the festival's small beginnings. What started off as one day of psychedelic proportions in 2008, continued to expand, outgrowing its previous venue each year. Nestled right on the Colorado River, the Carson Creek Ranch has become home to the psychedelic haven that is APF.
Psych fest features 3 stages: The Reverberation Stage (Main stage), Levitation Tent, and the Elevation Amphitheater.
The past lineups have included acts such as The Warlocks, Gaslamp Killer, Black Lips, The Moving Sidewalks, Ancient River, Dead Meadow, Indian Jewelry, Os Mutantes, Woods, The Strange Boys, Deap Vally, The Growlers, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Warpaint, St. James Society, Roky Erickson, Strangers Family Band, Bombino, Allah Las, Thee Oh Sees, and many many more.
Now that you've got a little APF backstory....
As I neared the entrance to a beautiful weekend, I could hear what appeared to be a band straight from a 1950s prom. Oh my heart, it was Shannon and the Clams! There were moments I found myself hands clasped, swaying to and fro, immediately followed by uncontrollable dancing. If you aren't familiar with this California-based group, let me just give you a little rundown. Take a little bit of garage punk/surfer rock, throw in some heart-throbbing doo wop, beautiful vocals with a little growly edge. BOOM! Shannon and the Clams. Want a taste of everything I've just described? Check out two of my favorite tunes "You Will Always Bring Me Flowers" and "King of the Sea".
Graveyard: One of the mystical results of hard rock band, Norrsken, splitting up in 2000. I don't think anyone has any complaints either, as these long-haired demigods have captured the undivided attention of the psychedelic scene. All on their own, they have revived the psychedelic rock of the 1970s, while also maintaining a sound completely unique to this Swedish based group. They began to play "Uncomfortably Numb" as I approached, the chorus rings "I've been leaving you since the day we met and it feels like you have to." Every lyric I feel within my soul as this ballad of heartbreak rocks the crowd. As they played "The Siren" I had this visual in my head of crawling and sludging through the swamps, a lost soul. Then as the hard hitting chorus hit my ears, I was immediately reminded of a modern day Black Sabbath. Adorned in denim and pearl snap shirts, they continue to win over my heart with every performance. We are not worthy.
Woods: This handsome, Brooklyn-based folk rock group was one of the last performances of the night for me. I have been listening to this band since their beginnings in 2005 and have always been allured by Jeremy Earl's falsettos, the multi-talents of Jarvis Taveniere, and just the overall lo-fi sound that the band has maintained. Most of their performance was songs from their newest album With Light and With Love, which has an overall mellow ambiance to it combined with a beautifully played organ. They still visited some of their more heavier tunes, but overall this set was a great way to wind down the first night.
The first time I heard The Dandy Warhols was upon the release of their album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia in 2000. This was my first, soft introduction into the modern revival of psychedelic rock. I was hooked to say the least. Their hit "Bohemian Like You" was featured on a Vodafone commercial, which gained them international recognition. I have continued to be a faithful fan and was psyched to see their name on the bill for APF 2014, for this would be my first time to see them play.
Ironically enough, 2013 marked the 13th anniversary of breakthrough albumThirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, so this performance was part of a tour in honor of this. They did however visit tracks from other albums, including "I Love You" from their first album Come Down. I can't describe this track any other way than heroin chic. Singer Taylor and keyboardist McCabe seem to almost gasp between every sigh of this repetitive love song. They would then lift the masses with the poppy, catchy tunes of "Bohemian Like You" and "We Used to Be Friends." They'd bring you right back down with one of my favorite tracks "Sleep." This song is one of longing, with the simplest of lyrics...a lullaby of sorts...you feel it all.
Then BOOM! All beef aside, they are joined on stage by rivals Brian Jonestown Massacre for an unexpected finale. I do believe one thing, that the positive energy of APF is capable of reconciling animosity between these groups and reviving psychedelic rock from every generation.
And what kind of coverage would this be if I didn't talk about the group containing the pioneers of all that is Psych fest? I have seen them play more times than I can count, never tire, always yearning for more. The voice of Alex Maas putting me into a trance every. single. time. Psychedelic rock of the sexual sorts.
The Black Angels. If you haven't heard them and you consider yourself a fan of psychedelic rock, do me a favor: kick yourself in the face, reevaluate your life, and listen to every single album.
I am not being biased, either, because they are an Austin band. They are truly remarkable and I look forward to every single performance. This will mark their 7th year playing APF and I believe it to be one of the key, necessary shows to see if you ever make it to the fest. Every show is the perfect balance between light and sound, the visuals are quintessential to The Black Angels experience. Even with eyes closed, body swaying, as you cling onto every word that leaves Maas' lips....you can still see the lights, the colors, and you can feel the sound. At the beginning of every song, I quiver, already knowing what lies before me, but still left in a state of wonderment.
This set was well rounded and included some of my favorite tracks from over the years: "Young Men Dead" and "Black Grease" from their first album Passover. "Bad Vibrations," "The Haunting at 1300 McKinley," and "River of Blood" from their third album Phosphene Dream. "Evil Things" from their newest album Indigo Meadow.