Levitation 2016 Kick Off Party at Empire Control Room and Barracuda in Austin, TX 4-28-2016

This was a long and very strange day. After getting up at the ungodly hour of 3am to catch a flight to Austin for Levitation 2016 and very little sleep, I was really looking forward to these two shows. I got some lunch at Javi’s Best of Tex Mex, which is one my favorite places near my hotel, then went back to my room for a much needed nap. I woke up around 5pm, checked Twitter real quick and saw the extremely disappointing news that Levitation 2016 was cancelled. I thought this was a joke at first.

So, the festival was cancelled due to the threat of strong thunderstorms in Austin. I don’t think the 2 raindrops that fell all day counts as a storm, but whatever. There’s nothing as devastating as having something you were looking forward to for a year just pulled away at literally the last minute. Levitation/Austin Psych Fest has always been my favorite festival, even more so than Lollapalooza, so yeah, this really sucked. But, I was determined to make the best of the situation and with my weekend now freed up, I had time to do some apartment hunting (I’m looking for some leads on apartments that aren’t filled with waterbugs and possible jobs in Austin) and hang out in some of my favorite coffee shops and restaurants, so that was definitely a plus.

When these shows were announced, I had a hard time deciding where to go to the one at Empire Control Room or Barracuda (the third and much larger show was at the Mohawk, but I didn’t even consider it just because it would have been a pain to run between three clubs), so I bought a ticket for both. Since the show at Empire had an earlier start time and that’s where I began the night.

I got to Empire around 7:45pm, a little later than planned. I really love this venue! It’s small, but you can get a pretty good view of the inside stage from almost anywhere. I ordered a Karbach Weekend Warrior, which wasn’t bad, but had a little more of a sour taste than I like. Beer in hand, I made my way over to the room for Hidden Ritual.

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Hidden Ritual

The Golden Dawn 1

The Golden Dawn

With visuals projected onto every wall surrounding the stage, Austin’s own Hidden Ritual played a set full of reverb soaked psychedelia to a pretty good sized crowd. I ended up liking these guys a lot. From there, I went to the outdoor garage stage to see The Golden Dawn. I stuck around for a few songs, but it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe a little too much twang for my tastes. That being said, they had a pretty good crowd packed into the covered garage area as a few raindrops began to fall.

I could see a long line across the street at Barracuda and tried to wait it out for a bit. I ended up just going over there and chatting with people around me as we waited in line. In an “only in Austin” kind of thing, I was recognized by Tayler from Magic Shoppe, who was standing in front of me along with singer Josiah. It really is a small freakin world! This at least made the long wait to get inside that much easier. Inside, nobody was playing yet, so I ordered a Fireman’s #4 from the bar, then made my way to the outside stage to see Death Valley Girls

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Death Valley Girls

The outside stage at Barracuda (formerly Red 7) is one of my favorite places to see bands anywhere. Death Valley Girls definitely brought the garage rock sounds to the outdoor space.

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Sugar Candy Mountain

Sugar Candy Mountain were playing inside, so I went to check them out. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with this band, but really enjoyed watching their set as did a lot of the people standing around me, who were having a lot of fun watching them. I thought that they sounded a like a more psychedelic Beatles.

I went back outside to see Levitation Room, but not before changing up my drink to a hard ginger ale, which was too syrupy and sweet for my tastes, so I trashed it. I also ran into the dude I was chatting with in line earlier and we ended up hanging out for a bit, so that was cool. Shows are always more fun with people to chill with.

Levitation Room

Coming from LA, Levitation Room brought a breezy sound that was a throwback to the older psych sound of the 60’s. These guys were great!

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The Turns

Back inside, The Turns kept the psychedelic vibes going. I went back outside and caught some of The Coathangers set. These four ladies totally rocked and had more of punk/grunge sound, which was a little different than most of the bands that played on this night.

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The Veldt

Inside, The Veldt were just getting started. Although they come from the early 90’s shoegaze scene, their set had a more R&B/soul feel to it with singer Daniel Chavis emotionally crooning through the songs. There was an intensity that I’m pretty sure every single person in the room felt. This was by far my favorite band of the night and the weekend!

After The Veldt’s set, I went over to Empire to see Ringo Deathstarr, a band I love and have seen a few times in the past. But it was a little too crowded and hot inside, so I went out to the little side area and could still hear them playing their gazey dream pop.

Once the show was over, I walked up 6th Street in a search for some late night food. I ended up getting a burger and fries at P. Terry’s and then made my way back to the hotel for some very much needed sleep and to figure out the rest of the weekend.

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