Austin Psych Festival (Levitation) was founded in 2008. Over the festival’s first few years it has grown from a small get together to an internationally acclaimed three-day event. The festival attracts people from all over the world who love the psychedelic culture. This year’s festival has an amazing lineup as seen below, and is exceptional due to the fact the 13th Floor Elevators will be having their 50th year reunion.
One of the first few bands to play the festival was Ringo Deathstarr, a local alternative band. Their style is pretty classic when it comes to psych music. In songs like “Kaleidoscope” they incorporate warm trance-like guitar sounds which blend together with the sweet vocals of the bassist. They also have a spacey effect made from the synth that gives off a hypnotizing vibe in songs like “So High” and “Tambourine Girl.” Over all their set was good, but it was kind of a ‘been-here-done-that’ sort of set, making it feel quite boring.
Shortly after their set, Mini Mansions took the stage. Mini Mansions sound like something between The Beetles and Fountains of Wayne. During the beginning of their set they played “Any Emotions” and “Freakout!” As good as it was, the volume was so painfully loud that a lot of people distanced themselves from the stage or plugged their ears with their fingers. For some however, they let the heavy beat of the drums crawl inside them and take their bodies dancing. Shuman (the lead singer) enhances their music with multiple drum solos and high pitched yelps, which he displayed when the trio played their cover of Blondie’s 1978 single “Heart of Glass.” Regardless of the high volume, the set was pretty notable and may have been one of the best showcases at the festival Friday.
Holy Wave was next up on the schedule and the stage was surrounded with fans. When they came out, the lead singer even commented on the amount of people there to see them perform. Their music composition is mostly instrumental, and while it’s not bad, it’s not amazing either. Their performance was borderline boring, but for the more dedicated fans, they seemed to be having a grand time.
In the Levitation Tent, probably one of the coolest places to be at the festival, Indian Jewelry was performing. This band was incredibly unique. They incorporate a sonic experiment vibe into their sounds, and switch off between male and female lead vocals. They heavily used the synth and had either a eerie vibe or ‘ohmygod what’s happening’ vibe. The tent had a backdrop covered with retro televisions with images projected on the ceiling of the tent. It was like being inside of a dream. So many people were dancing it was like a Dance Dance Revolution competition was going on. Whatever was happening inside that tent was crazy fun and it worked.
Back at the main stage DIIV appeared and started playing “How Long Have You Known?” This band was one of the better performances of Friday afternoon. They drew in a large amount of the festival attendees and sounded pretty damn catchy. The backdrop of their stage appeared as if a tie dye shirt was in motion and fans blew bubbles over the crowds. During songs like “Waste of Breath,” the energy of the crowd was high energy, and overall there was a positive reaction from the crowd to their set. His smooth high pitched voice along with the classic psychedelic rock sound was nearly flawless.
Back at the Elevation Stage, White Fence went on. Their set drew in a decent crowd but it was hands down the most boring performance of the night. The light show was probably the most entertaining portion since there were lights projecting from the front and back of the crowd. The band sounded decent, but the audio was fairly bad, making it a poor experience for the fans. By the end of the set more than half of the crowd probably left.
Lastly, Spiritulazied was up on the schedule. First and foremost, they went on almost 20 minutes late, which had most of the crowd itching with anticipation. The crowd was massive and grew only larger as people waited for their presence. Once they finally took the stage they played their new song “Here It Comes (The Road, Let’s Go).” The band was accompanied by a choir and an orchestra which made songs like “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)” and “Electricity” seem like a lullaby. For such a highly anticipated set, anyone who wasn’t a die hard fan left due to the ‘snore-fest’ vibe. However; their sound was extremely high quality, it just wasn’t as upbeat as some may have hoped.