TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Ok so, this gallery is just a few of the many highlights from Austin Psych Fest 2015. Check out Blurt’s official muddy-boots-on-the-ground camera guy Michael Passman’s gallery for a more expansive view of the weekend. This is just a bit of what I saw at my third straight APF – newly rebranded as Levitation:
If I had only caught the electrifying set by California’s White Fence Friday night, then I would have been a happy camper. White Fence, a.k.a Tim Presley blasted the clouds outta the sky on the Elevation Amphitheater stage Friday night. Brilliant, punchy songs, engaging psych pop, pure and not-so simple. Presley is a wholly original writer who has become a master of crafting songs that avoid or ignore traditional pop structures. (Isn’t that what the Beatles did so well after all?) He’s a unique guitar player, and singer. Sound-wise think Ray Davies with alternating amnesia and insomnia, with possibly some chemicals involved. Their near-hour long set was focused, tight, and white-hot with one White Fence gem after another, mostly from 2014’s “For The Recently Found Innocent,” which is their perfect no-filler LP and an excellent place to start for the recently found curious about this amazing band. I can’t find the names of the rest of the band members but they deserve a shout-out. Look up White Fence on Facebook check out tour dates.
White Fence followed young psych band Holy Wave, a true heavy-trip band from Austin, via El Paso. These guys have studied the pioneers well, and play what might have been the purest groove-heavy psych rock heard at the festival this year. They are Kyle Hager, Dustin Zozaya, Julian Ruiz, Joey Cook, and Ryan Fuson. They played an extremely engaging set and were welcomed as hometown heroes by a big enthusiastic crowd, even coming back for a rare encore here. They were playing a bunch of new songs, so I will for sure be looking for the upcoming vinyl release. Check em’ out at holywave.bandcamp.com
As you can tell from the photos above, it was a great crowd for people watching – and even better are the ones who will stand for a photo, thank to all who did.
(Thee Oh Sees)
One of two highlights Saturday for me was The Oh Sees, and the energy they cooked up for the crowd, or vice-versa. I have heard of this band for years but they never got on my radar, so I made sure I was there for this. I was immediately taken with their four-piece lineup featuring two drummers. Makes for a frantic pace and they don’t slow down for a minute. “Security level 5, we have surfers. Incoming.” What immediately followed after these bashers started (early at that, a festival first?) was about as close to a full-scale crowd riot as I have been in the thick of; but looking at my photos later I realized it was all in a days work for the band, crowd, and stage hands who were ready and calm about it all.) I kept thinking Malcolm and Angus would dig this.
My second highlight of the night, The Mystic Braves, on one of two smaller stages – The Elevation Amphitheater. All the way from Menlo Park, CA these guys hit the sweet spot of retro and psych, a cool throwback sound reminiscent of Allah-Las but much livelier and without the sad faces. Mystic Braves were up, and delivered a great set that makes me want to go out and find their new vinyl, and buy a Vox guitar. Mystic Braves are Julian Ducatenzeiler, Tony Malacra, Camera Gartfung, Shanek Slotsenberg, and Ignacio Gonzalez. (www.mysticbraves.com)
This year’s celebration of the weird seems to have taken a turn for the big time, with mainstream huge-name headliners likeThe Flaming Lips, Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala, and Jesus and Mary Chain. Levitation 2015 was the biggest APF ever (probably doubled in size over last year) and will only get bigger going forward. Big festivals are a big summer thing now and they are all quite alike; same headliners, same copy-and-paste everything. Somehow Levitation manages to keep it quaint, colorful, diverse, and unique despite the growth. For every big name booked at APF, there were five-under-radar-bands you’ve never heard of but need to know. And this year the first and only reunion of The 13th Flood Elevators to boot, you kidding me? Don’t want to stand in a crowd with thousands for The Flaming Lips? Fine, go to one of the smaller stages and hear Chelsea Wolfe or Fuzz. See ya there.
More pics from John Boydston at http://jobo.smugmug.com/