Just say Roky! Just say Black Angels! Just say, “Free your mind and your ass will follow you all over Austin, or at least all over the Carson Creek Ranch this month…”
Text/Photos by John Boydston
If you’re looking for an upgrade in your music festival experience, check out Levitation in Austin later this month. It’s the consistently solid and unique celebration of weirdness and music in Austin, now going on its 9th year. It’s coming up April 29th – May 2nd. It brings together performers from around the world that will never share a weekend anywhere else, including Brian Wilson – doing Pet Sounds LP, Ween, Arcs, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Allah Las, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Night Beats, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Parquet Courts, Twin Peaks, Courtney Barnett, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, The Black Angels, Thurston Moore and other bands I dig.
But every year it’s the acts I’ve never heard of which end up making my weekend; this year being Animal Collective, Flying Lotus, Slow Dive, and Super Furry Animals, just to name a few.
Levitation is hand-crafted, and carefully curated delight that is redefining what festivals should be. Full of personality and always striving to be different, and good. I’m not reading from a press release either – this will be my fourth trip to this.
Levitation happens on the 58-acre Carson Creek Ranch on the banks of the Colorado River, tucked between downtown Austin and its major airport. Three stages, one of which backs up to the river for a pretty, pretty, pretty cool scenic backdrop, especially when they get the light show going on the trees across the water. This ranch actually is part of the festival and they creatively use it as such, and includes a big camping area which is its own little world.
These photos are from my previous good times there with a camera, starting in 2013, when it was still called Austin Psych Fest. APF was started in 2008 by the Reverberation Appreciation Society (which includes two members of The Black Angels) to celebrate all things wild, colorful, fun, and weird about music and culture in the 60s. Their idea – quoting here – was ‘to create their vision of a music festival, aiming to present innovating and captivating musicians and legends from the past, present and future.’ I have heard it said they simply plan the festival they would like to attend and that’s what we get. They’ve expanded too, with Levitations in Chicago, Vancouver, and France now. [Below: the mighty Black Angels, festival founders]
And that’s the point and beauty of this festival. It gets a little bigger every year, it’s on everybody’s radar now, but it remains all about the music, without going mainstream. This year Brian Wilson is probably the most famous act of the weekend, maybe in the history of the event, performing the classic LP ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety. What a treat, and how cool it is bringing that to a new legion of fans several generations removed.
Below, view some of Dr. Boydston’s lysergically-induced photographic memories of Levitations past. Check out this full lineup and schedule and see you discerning music fans there: http://levitation-austin.com/
Crowd Shot, 2014
Crowd watching (more like going nuts for…) Thee Oh Sees 2015
Iceland’s Dead Skeleton 2013
Black Lips’ soundboard 2014
Riverbank crowd 2013
Peter Hayes of BRMC 2013
Night Beats at Mohawk’s pre-weekend party 2014
L.A. Witch 2015
Dead Meadow 2014
Jacco Gardner 2014
Cyril Jordan of Flamin’ Groovies 2014
Tim Presley of White Fence 2015