I have always wanted to go to Austin (and considered moving there at one point), so what better reason to take a trip than to go to the Austin Psych Fest? After hitting a ton of traffic and cutting it pretty close on catching my flight out of Boston, I got to Austin around 11:30am. This was my first trip to Austin and the Psych Fest, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was glad to be there. I took a shuttle to the Courtyard Marriott near the airport, unpacked, got some food at a cool little Mexican place around the corner and took a nap because I knew it was going to be a long and exciting night.
This is the 6th Austin Psych Fest and they were sponsoring two pre-parties in downtown Austin, with one at Red 7, and the other at the Mohawk. I lucked out in that I was able to take the free airport shuttle from my hotel back to the airport so that I could take the bus into downtown for a dollar (if you’re not renting a car and your hotel offers a free hotel shuttle, take advantage of it!). One thing about taking the bus was trying to figure out where I was and where the stops were. After taking a chance and getting out on 4th and Trinity, I tried to figure out where everything was and finally found the Mohawk, where I picked up my festival weekend wristband. There was loud music was blaring from the outside stage, but I really wanted to get over to Red 7 and see Chatham Rise, who were a band I really wanted to see.
It was about a two block walk over to Red 7. This was a really dark but pretty cool venue with both and inside and outdoor stage. I went to the bar and tried some sort of local IPA, which the bartender recommended. There seemed to be a lack of beer choices in this town since any place I went to only had a limited selection to choose from. Apparently they have their own version of ‘Gansett/PBR called Lone Star, but I never ended up trying it.
Chatham Rise who came from Minneapolis, were the first band to play on the inside stage and were absolutely amazing! With fog and lasers to set the tone, the band started out with droning guitars and went into their slow, shoegazy songs. It was definitely a great first band to start off 4 days and nights of music. I bought their self titled CD (which I highly recommend, it’s great!) on the way out at the end of the night and was kind of bummed that I couldn’t find any of them to sign it.
Next I attempted to find the outside stage where The UFO Club was playing and ended up going through some random door and there it was. I may have said “Wow!” out loud once I saw it. The outdoor stage was a really cool area with a long bar in the back and tons of space with a stage at the front. If only Boston could have a venue set up like this. I ordered another beer and watched the rest of The UFO Club’s set, which was pretty good.
I went back inside to see Fairfield Parlour, which featured members of Kaleidoscope. I wasn’t really into their sound, but watched them for a bit as I waited for the Allah Las to go on at the outside stage.
The Allah Las were another one of the bands I was really looking forward to seeing and were as good as I had hoped they would be. They had that retro 60s psychedelic sound and there was a really big crowd at this stage who were really into it. I decided to leave for the Mohawk to try and catch A Place To Bury Strangers, but got the set time wrong, so I had completely missed them.
The Mohawk was definitely one of the strangest and most unique venues I’ve ever been in, with it’s portraits of mustached and bearded people hanging above the bar. I stuck around and tried a beer called Happy Camper IPA which wasn’t bad at all. The Orange Revival was playing the inside stage, in what was a really small room. The indoor space was soo packed that you couldn’t even get into the room where the band actually was, so I stood at the bar and listened, all while watching a girl do 3 shots of Jaeger.
The Orange Revival
After I finished my beer, I made my way back to Red 7 to see the Flavor Crystals, one member of which I crossed paths with several times over the weekend as well as had a pretty good chat with (shout out to Josh!). It’s kind of cool when you can tell that some bands are huge fans of other bands.
The Flavor Crystals were really cool. With green lasers cutting through the smoke, the band which has a space rock/shoegaze sound, played to a crowd that was loving it. Although I had only heard a few songs from them before coming to Austin, I instantly became a huge fan.
Once they were done, I decided to walk around downtown Austin for a bit and check out the city. I noticed that the stereotype about it being a hipster city is true. 6th street is like Bourbon Street in New Orleans with all of it’s music clubs and bars, along with the road being closed off. The only problem I ran into was trying to find a cab back to my hotel near the airport. I can only imagine how difficult this would be during SXSW! I had the Marriott in downtown call me one and when the cab showed up, I ended up sharing it with a couple who were heading in the same direction as well. That worked out great since it ended up costing about half as much as I expected to pay and I ended up having a pretty interesting chat with the cab driver about Boston. At this point, I was pretty tired and needed sleep since I was running on 3 hours of sleep the night before. This was a great way to start off the weekend.