Category Archives: Festivals

Levitation Festival 11/7-10/19, Austin

Dates: November 7-10, 2019

Location: Various Venues, Austin TX

 

The quintessential Lone Star State gathering of the tribes, natch, at multiple venues over the course of  November 7 thru 10. (Note: If you don’t recognize any given artist, hover mouse over a photo in order to read which band you are seeing.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

We know that Austin, Texas, is the music mecca, especially when it comes to festivals.   Levitation takes it up a notch by bringing in the best in Underground music and artists from around the known universe.   For four nights every year it goes into a hyper-space-warp frenzy bringing some of the best and brightest happening Psych, Metal, and Dream Pop music under one tent, or several clubs anyway.  It’s like a slice of SXSW but no filler, not that much walking, and you can actually get into venues.

Levitation happens in several venues with Stubb’s (which doubles as a fab BBQ joint) as the focal point featuring the closest things you get to headliners at this 4-day party.  Blurt Contributor John Boydston tried to cover as much ground as possible getting to all the acts, but realized early on it was a 4-person job, so this is what he got, some of the best, but of course, by no means all of it.

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Thursday at Stubb’s the lineup was Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and ready for her David Lynch Twin-Peaks soundtrack closeup, Angel Olsen.  All performers and crowd were braving a chilly temperature drop but soldiered on and got lost in the electric dreamscapes created by all of the above.  I caught a few bands down the street at Mohawk which was reveling in the glory of Texas metal warriors Creeping Death (Denton) and Power Trip (Dallas) among others. 

 

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Friday night Stubb’s was alive with the magical psych-rock of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips.   Not sure if Rev is short for revelry or revelation but both work for me after hearing this power house psych band lay it down.  Then the Flaming Lips killed the crowd with kindness, love, and confetti.  Just wow – and master Lip Wayne Coyne said it all with this blow-up ballon spelling it out for us. 

 

 

 

 

But wait, Friday was just starting after that show – I hauled my wagon of photo gear into other venues and heard one dynamite band after another any one of which you can see in Austin at these venues, but not likely on the same night, same bill.    I caught part of Stonefield’s power set, featuring the 4 psych rock sisters from an area of rural Australia known as Macedon Ranges.  Then over to The Barracuda and for the rest of the night heard in rapid succession Frankie and the Witch Fingers,  Elephant Stone (from Toronto and truly an East meets West rock experience), Death Valley Girls (always fantastic), Crocodiles (new to me but rocked like no band I’ve seen in years – must hear more), and Broncho ended this amazing night doing what they do but better, tighter, and more up than I’ve ever heard ‘em).

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Saturday started mid-afternoon with Habibi – (NYC) bringing their internationally-inspired surfy 60’s girl pop to The Empire.  Then White Fence from SF.  Led by Tim Presley, a brilliant and underrated writer-singer-guitar picker who I can’t pin down exactly but think Ray Davies meets Piper at The Gates of Dawn.  Or The Kinks if Syd Barret was Dave Davies older bro.   And caught The Allah-Las who are currently touring, and have managed to seriously beef-up their stage sound without changing anything you may already love about this band, which is remarkable.

Not content with this fun, headed to Stubb’s Saturday night see openers and Waco psych kids Holy Wave, Levitation Festival curators and Austin’s own The Black Angels, who for my money have never sounded more up and alive in their not funhouse mirror takes on life.   A really dynamic and electrifying show for this band – and they would have carried the night had John Cale and his band not come out and taken it back.   Not sure what else you can say about Cale and his rock pedigree.  Being a founding member of The Velvet Underground would suffice but his 50-year career since is equally impressive.  Wasn’t expecting this 77-year old rock icon to come out and slay but he and his crack band did just that.   Thanks for having him, and me Levitation.  If you’ve outgrown SXSW and ACL is too crowded, save some dates on the calendar for this one – Fall 2020. 

 

 

2019 Goner Fest 9/26-29/19, Memphis

Dates: September 26 - September 29, 2019

Location: Memphis, TN

BY TIM HINELY

Why did it take me so long to get my ass down to Memphis and attend Goner Fest – the 16th annual event?!? I have no idea. The last few years my pal and I went out to Cropped Out in Louisville, KY and since that wasn’t happening this year we decided to do Goner Fest and that, my friends, turned out to be a great decision.

We got lucky with a cool Airbnb in midtown spot right n the middle of all the action (walking distance to one of the venues).

We missed The Limes at the opening ceremony at the gazebo (spittin’ distance from Goner Records who, of course,  are the final folks who put this festival together……we made two trips to Goner to record shop, most excellent shop! Killer selection and friendly, helpful staff).

Thursday night at the Hi-Tone started with between band DJs Anthony Bedard and Mitch Cardwell revving the crowd up. Minneapolis’ Green/Blue, a band made up of folks from top-notch bands like The Soviettes and The Blind Shake, got the party started and their energy jolted me out of my sickness (my scratchy throat had just started…it was to get worse over the weekend).

Madison, WI’s, The Hussy, who have a new record out on Dirtnap, blazed through a set of hi-nrg tunes and were certainly having fun doing it. I met head Hussy Bobby later in the night and he was a righteous chap.

Sweet Knives were up next and this band features Memphis legend Alicija Trout who’s got lots of charisma. Not my favorite band of the festival or anything but did enjoy most of it.

Louisiana’s Trampoline Team very well may have been my favorite band of the festival. A chant/ jitter punk growl that sounded like the same song over and over. A totally d\freaking GREAT song so even if it was the same song I sure didn’t mind. Don’t miss these folks if they blow through your town.

Canada’s early ’70s psych band Simply Saucer (featuring Cleveland legend Craig Bell) bored me… well at least for the first half of the set then really turned it on and the 2nd half of the set and burned.

At 1:00 AM I was still standing upright an thank god ‘cos the King Brothers took the stage and proceeded to ….well, dump a garbage can full of all kinds of muck all over the unsuspecting show goers (or maybe they were suspecting). They growled and grunted their way through set wroth the singer mostly in the crowd standing on hands and shoulders. These guys were insane.

Friday 9/27/19

Of the afternoon bands at Memphis Made Brewery the ones I really enjoyed were New Zealand’s Vincent HL (Crazy Horse meets VU said I), Tucson’s Lenguas Largas (above; a few folks from Resonars) dripped and oozed rock and roll blood. Kelley Sanderson, who used to be in Those Darlin’s (a DAGGER fave) played a nice folksy solo set.

Back at the Hi-Tone on Friday night the DJs were Siltbreeze’s Tom Lax and Feeding Tube Records’ Byron Coley a few guys who know a thing or two about music. Good music.

We missed Mall Walker but caught Richard Papiercuts et Les Inspecteurs and I think I like the recordings a bit more than seeing them on stage. His Scott Walker meets Joy Division sound is certainly unique but again, gimme the records.

Paul Caporino has been doing the M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious) machine for many years with a hundred hit songs and they played my fave “Dick About It.” Lots a energy and hooks and rapid fire tunes.

Good natured Aussie folks Thigh Master delighted the crowd with their wiry n’ wired pop sounds and they were among my faves.

The last time I saw Nots, was when they blew through Denver about 4 or 5 years ago as a quartet but think they’ve been a trio for quite some time and certainly delivered don this night with 30 minutes of pure RAWK.

Headliners on this night was Oblivians (the band featuring Eric from Goner) and hey, having Quintron on keyboards was like getting extra whipped cream on your ice cream. Another one of my favorite sets at Goner as these gents barley had 4 walls and a ceiling left by sets end.

Saturday 9/28/19

Of the afternoon bands on Saturday the ones that converted me were the high energy of Opossums and New Zealand’s two-piece Na Noise (above; featuring one of the gals from Vincent HL) who plunked out a clutch of excellent songs. What can I say, I’m a convert.

Canadian punk band Priors (above) seemed like they came to do two thinks, drink beer and play some great punk rock and succeeded in both (singer was a total character) while the Dixie Dicks gay take on country was hee-larious and loads of fun.

Tucson’s Resonars (above) have been a fave of mine for a long while and they did not disappoint at all. Leader Matt Rendon has too many good songs to count and played many of them on this night while closing out the afternoon gig was Oblivions/Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright (below) & the Tip Tops doing a lovely set of gravelly/soulful tunes. Still love his vocals.

Back to the Hi-Tone for Saturday night and the DJs were The Mummies’ Russell Quan and Bazooka Joe (Slovenly Records) and these cats had a bonafide dance party going on!

We only caught the last tune or two by Teardrop City (featuring Laurie Stirrat) but got front and center for Australia’s Parsnip (below) and while I like their new record (out now on Trouble in Mind) the live set was even better. Lots o’ energy, charisma and fun, catchy songs.

Not sure why I expected to not like Giorgio Murderer but really liked their set. Two guys on synths and a drum machine (at least from where I could see in the back of the club).

Memphis faves Hash Redactor drilled holes with guitars all night (the band also featured 2 Nots and one Ex Cult) and it was another one of my fave sets. Do not miss if they fall into your town.

Tommy and the Commies hail from the great white north and brought their mod fun down for a quick but catchy set while the kings of budget rock, The Mummies (below) hit the stage at 1:00am (with a short film beforehand) and played all the hits (including their cover of Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge”). What a night.

Sunday 9/29/19

Closing ceremonies in the sun was a nice way to end the festival with the Sharde Thomas & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band who had the crowd raising their hands and shaking their feet.

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Gonerfest is a top-notch, Grade-A, must-attend annual event. Eric, Zac, and their team put on an excellent festival and the folks who attend really love and appreciate it (translation: no dicks at all, everyone was cool).

I got my ass out there this year, so next year it’s your turn – and I plan on being there as well.

2019 Louder Than Life Festival 9/27-29/19, Louisville

Dates: September 27-29, 2019

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Our resident decibel-meter man returns once again to the (metal) scene of the crime – check out some of his previous coverage which left our photo editor’s ears ringing just looking at the pics.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

When the temperature reaches nearly 100 degrees for the third day straight and you are aware of the dusty, humid conditions, what do you wear? Why, black of course! The dark color is a must-have for the metal and rock hybrid that takes the crown for the largest rock festival in the United States. This year’s attendance reached more than 128,000 people over the three-day schedule.

It’s no wonder that this festival topped all other festivals this year with the killer lineup that Danny Wimmer Presents put together. (Scroll to the bottom for details on the production company.) It started with Guns N’ Roses and carried on with the reunion of Staind and big names like Slipknot (who had just dropped a great new album), Disturbed, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Philip H Anselmo & the Illegals (whose set was heavy with Pantera classics and even had a guest appearance from the members of GWAR). Wimmer brought over 30 acts of rock and metal and through in a little spice with rap legends Ice Cube and Jelly Roll.


The heat was unbearable, but with constant ear blasting music and enough gourmet food and drinks to hold you over until the late night second trip meal, no one was sitting this one out. With a normal temperature of around 75-80 during the day and in the 60s at night, this year’s unseasonable weather was close to one hundred degrees all three days.

The weather tried its best to dampen the festival-goers, but we got an immaculate festival and a great location that Wimmer and the team had to transform into a suitable site for a three separate weekend festival, starting with Home Town Rising, followed by Bourbon & Beyond, and ending with Louder Than Life. This year’s festivals were relocated due to the old site being prone to flooding and ruining the Bourbon & Beyond festival last year and leading to the cancellation of the 2018 Louder festival as well.


The new site has a great layout but does and will probably receive some planted trees for shade, more shaded tents and or tables for people to sit and rest while grabbing a great meal. Elsewhere at the Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center, fans were able to take in several art displays and live painting, including a large homage to late actor Sid Haig, best known to rock fans for playing Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s films. Other onsite attractions included the Kroger Big Bourbon Bar presented by Louisville Courier Journal, which featured more than two dozen hand-selected bourbons from top distilleries; Fred Minnick’s Mini Bar presented by Bourbon Women Association, hosted by the Bourbon & Beyond bourbon curator, author/expert, and Amazon Prime host (Bourbon Up); Jack Daniel’s No. 7 Sports Bar; The Music Experience; Angel’s Envy Speakeasy; and The Silver Dollar Hunter’s Club, where attendees could find vintage bourbons dating as far back as the 1930s, as well as contemporary collectibles.

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Anti Flag

Breaking Benjamin

Deadland Ritual

DED

Demon Hunter

Dirty Honey

Disturbed

Dropkick Murphys

GNR

Godsmack

GWAR

Halestorm

Ice Cube

Jelly Roll

Marilyn Manson

Motionless In White

New Years Day

Phil Anselmo

Rob Zombie

Sick Puppies

Staind

Suicidal Tendencies

Sum 41

The Crystal Method

The Pink Slips

(Duff watching his daughter’s The Pink Slips)

Three Days Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Louder Than Life is produced by Los Angeles-based Danny Wimmer Presents, one of the largest independent producers of destination music festivals in America. DWP events include Aftershock, Bourbon & Beyond, Chicago Open Air, Epicenter, Hometown Rising, Louder Than Life, Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival, and Welcome To Rockville. For more information on Louder Than Life (#louderthanlife) please visit:

www.LouderThanLifeFestival.com
www.facebook.com/louderthanlifefestival
www.twitter.com/ltlfest
www.instagram.com/louderthanlifefest

2019 Bonnaroo Music Festival 6/13-16/19, Manchester TN

Dates: June 13-19, 2019

Location: Manchester, TN

One mo’ ‘Roo 4 U, gentle BLURT readers! Go HERE for our coverage of last year’s event.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

Bonnaroo 2019 was truly an experience to remember. In contrast to Bonnaroo’s trademark Tennessee heat, this year’s participants were welcomed to a much milder climate, of which only reaching low 80’s. As usual, Bonnaroo included up and coming acts, varying genres including rap, rock, indie, alternative, EDM, jam band, and Tennessee country.  Despite the big names of Post Malone, Cardi B, Phish, and 2019 newcomer Juice WRLD, some of my favorite acts came from lesser known artists. Here are some of my favorite promising artists.

While their names seem unfamiliar, many of these performers will likely become household names in the months to come. Donna Missal is pop artist hailing from the garden state of New Jersey. Her soft calming voice complements very well with the smooth drum beats common in her music. In addition to her musical ability, she gave an immaculate performance in front of hundreds of intrigued listeners. She goes down as my favorite breakout artist from the festival. Friday Pilot’s Club is quickly making mainstream rock popular again. Their classic 90’s pop-rock sound combined with modern beats and hard-hitting guitar strums easily make them one of the best acts from Bonnaroo.  Hobo Johnson & the Lovemakers provided a down to earth feel at the event. The band is in their own genre with an emotional old school spoken word rap sound and the teenager nervousness expressed in his vocals. His music has been given a major popularity boost after being featured on the lyric explanation Youtube channel Genius.

Bonnaroo also hosted many non-musical events as well. Attendees are greeted to an Alice in Wonderlandesque clock to take pictures with or purely admire. There were also many 80’s arcade games including the classic Pinball machine. The wooden pathway connecting these events also led to an interactive painting wall as well as a car to paint. As you leave these events you can hear the vibrant music through the tree line to ultimately invite you to the dance party stage. These are just a few of the pop up events that added to Bonnaroo’s campground feel.

Any good music festival has its fair share of headliners. And Bonnaroo sure showed it this year by selling out for the first year since 2013. This accomplishment was aided by the melodic voice of Post Malone, the fierce Hip-Hop style of Cardi B, and the breakup tunes of Juice WRLD. The Event also included the comedy rap sensation, as well as frequent Chris Brown collaborator, Lil Dicky, jam band Phish, as well as their genre relatives The Nationals. Rap Legends Gucci Mane and Childish Gambino were some other well-known acts. Bonnaroo brought out many thrilling EDM acts providing the experience to dance to sun up with many surprising DJ performances. as well as throwing in a couple of metal bands, Gojira and DeafHeaven, which confused many of the event’s seasoned veterans while still drawing large crowds.

No different than the years before, Bonnaroo provided an amazing and diverse selection of musical excellence. This is a guaranteed way to keep your fanbase coming back year after year. I can’t wait to see what this iconic festival has in store for next year. Enjoy these pictures until next year!

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AJR 2

Bishop Briggs

Brandi Carlile

Cardi B

Caroline Rose

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Deafheaven

Donna Missal

Friday Pilots Club

Gucci Mane

Hippo Campus

Hobo Johnson

Jim James

John Prince

Juice World

K Flay

King Princess

Lumineers

Magic City Hippies

Nahko and Medicine for the People

Peach Pit

Phish

Riders in the Sky

Rival Sons

Squarch

The Lonely Island

The National

The Nude Party

Two Feet

Walk the Moon

 

2019 Austin Levitation Festival Night Three Report

In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. Go HERE to view his report and gallery from the Austin blast’s first night, November 7, and HERE for November 8. (Pictured above: Levitation hosts the Black Angels.)

BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Having no expectations about what to expect of John Cale it was hard to be anything but happily blown away by this 77-year old man’s performance.

This living legend came to rock, and with a great band that is what they did. And to sing his songs which are still about something.

The Black Angels set Cale up perfectly with a fantastic and dynamic set, as they continue looking for that dark cloud in every silver lining it. They found it tonight, keeping Austin Weird, and Dark. This band is responsible for Levitation even being a thing, let’s give ‘em a hand.

Earlier, White Fence from San Francisco also put in a brilliant set around the corner at The Empire Control Room and Garage, because that is what they do. Throughout their set I kept thinking if Syd Barrett and Ray Davies ever had a baby, it would be this band’s founder and creative force Tim Presley.

The LA-based Allah-Las came charging out of the gate as well, working a new LP and playing favorites from the previous three. They have a much ballsier sound live now, without changing what they do, and you know that can’t be bad.

More Black Angels on the Stubbs stage:

2019 Austin Levitation Festival Night Two Report

In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. Go HERE to view his report and gallery from the Austin blast’s first night, November 7, and stay tuned ‘cos there’s more to come! (Pictured above: the crowd at Stubbs either trippin’ out or in the line for the bathrooms….)

BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Things we learned Friday night, Nov. 8, at Levitation 2019 in Austin, Texas, in no particular order:

1) What Wayne (Flaming Lips) said…

2) The Rev in Mercury Rev must be short for Revelation, because they are one.

3) Death Valley Girls can lick ‘em by smiling, and leave ‘em to hang. [I see what you did there, John. – Lyric Ed.]

4) A year of touring for Broncho has turned them into a dynamic, crowd-favorite stage act.

5) Crocodiles are the best rock band I have ever seen, or at least since The Clash (and before that band cashed out).

7) Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dihr can jam with the best of them sitting down.

Tonight (Sat., Nov. 9), will feature White Fence, Allah Las, John Cale, and The Black Angels – and many more we hope. Worth noting is that Reverberation was originally founded in 2008 by Texas sonic/archival/renegade collective the Reverb Appreciation Society featuring key members of those very same Black Angels. [Who, I feel compelled to insert at this point in your narrative, John, once blew my 5-year old son’s mind at a deafening club soundcheck well over a decade ago. I still have the ear damage to prove it, and he still has the autographed 3-D poster to prove it as well. Have at it, gang, and please don’t return our photographer home with anything less than permanent ear damage from tonight. – Archival Ed.]

2019 Austin Levitation Festival Night One Report

In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. More to come!

BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Planet Stubbs (see colorful stage photo) and some class acts help lift Levitation 2019 into gear in Austin, Texas, Thursday night (Nov. 7).


A damn chilly night did not put a damper on Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and the truly angelic Angel Olsen (pictured above). Many bands were blazing down the streets and around the corners, but once you get into a Stubbs BBQ groove, it’s hard to move on.

Tonight, the electric psych sounds of Holywave, Mercury Rev, and The Flaming Lips will light up this stage. And many many others around the corner.

Vagabon:

Banhart:

Incoming: TX Levitation Festival Nov. 7-10

Official poster, above, tells you everything ya need to know, fellow headz! Below, check out some images from our previous coverage, by John Boydston.

By John Boydston & Fred Mills

In most places across the U.S., early November does not bring music fests; the festival season typically wraps up by September. Not so in Texas, where the annual psych-O-delick gathering known at the Levitation Festival reigns supreme. (Below: the late, mighty Roky Erickson, the event’s patron saint, from the 2015 gathering.)

This year it takes place November 7-10 in Austin (in the Red River Cultural District, which will be familiar to any punters who have ever been to SXSW), and with everyone from event founders the Black Angels, krautrock legend Damo Suzuki, festival stalwarts the Flaming Lips, and power merchants High On Fire, to slightly less-unhinged (but still majorly intense) artists like Angel Olsen, Kurt Vile, Chelsea Wolfe, and David J on the bill over the course of the weekend, it’s safe to say that some major cranial expansion is in order. Plus some random opportunities for major physical expression.

We’ll be on hand, with Levitation fest veteran and longtime BLURT shutterbug John Boydston telling the tale in words and images. For the time being, check out the just-announced set times for each day, along with details on how to order tickets, right here. (First photo below: ye old Blurt editor’s favorite psych band on the planet, the Rain Parade.)

Oh, and don’t eat the brown acid, kids. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top will not approve.

 

Indie Film Festival 919 Returns to Chapel Hill Oct. 9-13

Famous names associated with the indie gems include Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, and Noah Baumbach. Check out key trailers, below.

BY DANIEL MATTI

The new Film Fest 919 is about to hit its 2nd year in Chapel Hill, NC. October 9th-13th. Silverspot Cinemas will have its seats filled with filmgoers to check out the hottest movies ranging from foreign films that took over the Cannes Film Festival to films that are coming out during the holiday season.

Top films include the opening night’s selection, The Marriage, directed by mumble-core king Noah Baumbach starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. There’s also JoJo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi, who some will know as the director of Thor:Ragnarok, and What We Do In The Shadows, both of which will have 2 screenings that you can catch. Other hot titles include Parasite (Bong Joon-ho), Waves (Trey Edward Shults), and Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton).

Check out the full list of films here. Tickets are available now.

Marriage Story Teaser Trailer

JoJo Rabbit Teaser Trailer

Parasite Teaser Trailer

Waves Trailer

Motherless Brooklyn Trailer