Levitation 2019 1st Wave Lineup Announced

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My absolute favorite festival, Levitation fka Austin Psych Fest (I know, I know, I just can’t let go of the old name. It makes explaining it to coworkers a lot easier) dropped their lineup for 2019. Honestly, I hate the current format of various shows happening at different clubs instead of being at one spot at Carson Creek Ranch, which was actually really fun and super convenient.

Either way, the lineup actually kicks some serious ass with acts such as Kikagaku Moyo, Holy Wave, Deafheaven, Black Mountain, Russian Circles, Death Valley Girls, The Black Angels, Chelsea Wolfe, Allah Lahs, Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr., Black Mother Super Rainbow, and A Place To Bury Strangers amongst a whole bunch of other amazing bands. I’m giving some serious thought to going because I really miss Austin and Levitation.

Tickets for Levitation 2019 are on sale now at various price points for individual shows, or $395 for a 4 day pass that gets you into select venues, or $175 for shows only at Stubbs.

Review: Golden Dawn Arkestra, Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar, Fantasmes at the Scoot Inn 5-1-2016

In an attempt at least salvage some part of the cancelled Levitation 2016 weekend and not being able to get tickets for any of the announced last minute shows (ahem…Slowdive), I somehow managed to get a ticket for this one, which isn’t a bad thing as I love Golden Dawn Arkestra. I have never been to the Scoot Inn so I was kind of excited to check out a new venue. If I had one complaint, it would be the lack of information about set times. Multiple Twitter requests about this went unanswered, including those by several other people. The tickets said 5pm, one band posted 7pm, another 9pm. Ugh!

Scoot Inn

The Scoot Inn

I got to the Scoot Inn, which is tucked in the middle of a residential neighborhood just east of downtown Austin, around 6:45pm and missed Blondi’s Salvation, who I was really hoping to see. Once inside, it sort of looked like an old fort or saloon and the stage area was much smaller than I expected. It was a pretty cool outside area though, with a lot of people hanging out and waiting. I went to the bar area and got a Fireman’s #4 beer and walked around for a bit as Fantasmes were getting ready to go on.

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Fantasmes

Fantasmes are a band from Puerto Rico and were the first band I got to see on this night. With droning guitars and lots of reverb, they mesmerized the crowd with atmospheric psychedelic jams that went well with the fading sunlight.

I moved to an area near the bar area, which is on a deck that overlooks the grounds and stage. I ordered an Austin Beerworks Black Thunder, which was a nice dark German style beer. I stood on the deck and ended up talking with a couple of people when Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar started playing.

Indrajit Banerjee and Gourisankar

Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar

Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar just kind of walked onto the stage and sat down with their sitar and tabla and started playing. I honestly don’t think many people even realized that their set had started, but instead, thinking as I did that it was the music being pumped over the speakers before the band plays. Either way, these guys sounded really cool. It was kind of hard to see them on the stage, even though I was on the upper deck area near the bar, but there were just too many people in front. It was pretty chill music though, and I’ve said it before, I’m a big fan of the sitar.

I ordered one more Black Thunder before the night’s headliners, Golden Dawn Arkestra went on.

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Golden Dawn Arkestra

A Golden Dawn Arkestra show is something that you actually experience as opposed to something you just see. The first time I saw Golden Dawn Arkestra was at last year’s Levitation kick off party at Red 7 and they were one of the best things I saw all weekend. Tonight was no exception as they were equally as good.

The band made their way to the stage by dancing and singing their way through a crowd that made room for the costumed members to pass through. If you have ever seen Golden Dawn Arkestra, you know there are a *lot* of people in this band, which made me wonder how they were all going to fit on the stage. Somehow, they did, although it did look a bit cramped up there.

The band launched into “Osaka” and had the crowd dancing for the rest of the night. I was a little bummed they didn’t play my favorite song “Dimensions”, but that’s ok, because every song is truly a group experience and everybody was having a good time. They ended their set with “Masakayli” right at 10pm to a crowd that was chanting “one more song! one more song!”. A member of the band came out and explained that they wanted to play more, but there was a curfew so they couldn’t. At that point, most people filtered out.

This was an amazing night of music, and I at least got to see some bands from Levitation, so it wasn’t a 100% bust of a weekend. I took a walk over to East 6th street since I had never really been to this side of Austin and wandered around. I found a cool little bbq stand called Rolling Smoke BBQ and ordered a couple of brisket tacos which tasted amazing, then headed back to my hotel and called it a night.

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

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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.

Review: Typical Girls, Zettajoule, Esposa at Empire Control Room in Austin 12-13-2015

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Since I was visiting Austin to do some apartment hunting for a possible move, but feeling kind of burnt out on it, I decided to go out to a random show and see some bands while I was there. After finding a parking spot and walking about 3 blocks, I ended up at Empire Control Room in the Red River district for a free local show. I had been here before, but never for a show. The layout is pretty cool, with a bar in one room, the stage in another smallish room, and an outdoor area with picnic tables to hang out and get some air. I got there too late to see Concrete Shoes and Typical Girls were already well into their set.

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Typical Girls

I only caught the last three songs Typical Girls set but I really liked them. This 5 piece band is from San Marcos, Texas had a really nice dream pop sound and reminded me a bit of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. I really wished I had gotten there earlier to see their whole set because the two EP’s they have up on Bandcamp are really good!

I went over to the bar and ordered a Live Oak Hefeweizen, which I really enjoyed, and took a seat at a picnic table in the outside area for a while as Zettajoule was getting set up.

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Zettajoule

Zettajoule are a quartet from Austin. With singer Meggan Carney up front and center on the keyboards, the band sounded great! It’s a little hard to pinpoint their sound exactly, with some songs having shrieks, the music was a little poppy, a little indie rock, but they were definitely fun and very appreciative of the crowd that ventured out on a Sunday night to see a show. At one point, there were lasers that seemed to hug everyone in the crowd, with more than a few people reaching out to try to touch them. It was very trippy and really cool! They also have a couple of tracks on Bandcamp that are definitely worth checking out.

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Esposa

With a table full of drum machines and other equipment set up on the stage, Esposa were the final band of the night. I’m not really sure how to describe this duo’s sound other than they had a mellow electronic R&B kind of sound and reminded me a little bit of Grimes. It was a pretty chilled out way to end the night.

It’s always fun to go out to a random show in a different city. There were some really good local bands playing this show and I had a good time. If I end up moving to Austin, I will definitely try to see any of these bands again.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 3 5-04-2014

It’s the final day of the Austin Psych Fest and my dust filled lungs are killing me, but it’s still not as bad as last years terrible allergies that had me leaving Austin with a severe 2 week case of laryngitis. I was in no rush to get to the festival as there wasn’t really anyone I wanted to see until around 5pm, so I killed time at the nearby Starbucks (which has a great view of the Austin skyline) for a while. I finally made my way to the shuttle stop where there were a few others waiting and we chatted about the bands from the previous two days. The shuttle ride was awesome with the driver blasting the Stone Roses and the Warlocks amongst others, which included a sing along by those of us on the bus. It was a fun way to bond with some other fans!

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Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

I got to the festival just in time to catch the last two songs from shoegazers Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, who were playing to an overflow of people at the tent. These guys were really good and I wished I had caught more of their set.

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Christian Bland and the Revelators

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Kikagaku Moyo

From there, I went over to check out the Reverberation Stage where Christian Bland and the Revelators were playing. The sun was a little too bright and beating down on me, so I made my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater and watched Kikagaku Moyo for a bit. They featured a guy jamming on a sitar and the music was pretty trippy.

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Secret Colours

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Toy

I went back to the Levitation Tent and to see Secret Colours for a little while, then wandered around with yet another drink until Toy went on. I wasn’t familiar with them before the festival, but I wanted to check them out based on a conversation I had with some people on the shuttle the day before, and I was glad I did! These guys (and girl) absolutely blew away everyone in the tent and for me, it was the best set of the day, perhaps the weekend. I also managed to get a setlist, but couldn’t find any members to sign it. Either way, I’ll end up framing it with a vinyl copy of their newest album Join The Dots. My night was made!

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Sleepy Sun

As I left the tent, Mikal Cronin was playing on the main stage and I stayed for a couple of songs, but I really wanted to see Sleepy Sun down at the river stage. Sleepy Sun were kind of trippy and loud, with really cool visuals projected onto the trees across the river behind them. There was definitely an awesome atmosphere going on down there.

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Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band

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The War On Drugs

I went back to the tent to catch Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio’s other project, Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band. Although I’m not too into TV On The Radio, I was really feeling their hypnotic sound, which in turn, created a mood that fit in with the night. After they finished their set, I went over to the main stage to see The War On Drugs. These guys killed it, with a very Pink Floyd sound at times. I really enjoyed this set.

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Bo Ningen

I made my way back to the tent and stumbled on Japanese noise-psych band, Bo Ningen. They made a *lot* of noise, including an 18 minute jam that blew everyone away with it’s screeching loudness. It was a pretty cool experience and I don’t think anyone was disappointed with what they just witnessed. By the time Bo Ningen were done, Loop had taken the main stage. A lot of people I chatted with over the weekend were looking forward to this band. I caught a couple of songs then called it a night since I was getting tired. Even though it was killing me to leave, I made my way back to the shuttle stop for the last time of Austin Psych Fest 7.

This was by far the best time I have ever had at a festival. I loved every single minute of it (and yes…even the choking dust)! It was 4 days of good food, friendly people, and some really amazing bands. I am already looking forward to going back in 2015 for Austin Psych Fest 8!

Here are a few random shots from around the festival grounds, enjoy!

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Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 2 5-03-2014

After a few hours of sleep and a trip to the Starbucks next door for some much needed caffeine, I left a little later than planned for the second day of Austin Pysch Fest. I went over to the shuttle pickup spot and ended up chatting with a few people which was fun. Once we arrived at Carson Creek Ranch, Austin’s own Pure X were playing on the main stage.

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Pure X

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This guy had a pretty sweet Pee-wee Herman patch at Pure X’s set

Pure X were one of the bands I really wanted to see and they did not disappoint with their slow and hazy sound on the Reverberation Stage. There was a fairly small crowd trying to huddle in the shadow of the stage to escape the bright sun.

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Zombie Zombie

Next, I caught Zombie Zombie in the Levitation Tent. The band consisted of 2 drummers and a guy playing some synths. They were pretty experimental sounding, reminding me of some of the bands I used to see in Providence at AS220. After their set, I went over to get a Sailor Jerry and ginger brew, which was pretty damn refreshing on this very hot day.

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Jacco Gardner

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Morgan Delt

Jacco Gardner was playing down at the Elevation Amphitheater. I stuck around for his mellow set for a few minutes before moving on. I ended up back at the main stage for a while to see Morgan Delt. There was lots of reverb and it was pretty good.

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Bardo Pond

Back down to the river where I grabbed another drink and relaxed for a bit as I waited for Bardo Pond to go on. There was a flute being played along with the slow, droney indie rock sounds, which the really big crowd was loving. A lot of people in hammocks down by the river seemed to be chilling out and enjoying the atmosphere of music, water, and shade.

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Bombino

At this point, my phone needed to be charged (damn you iPhone and your constant battery drain!) so I hit up the only open spot for a 30 pin connector on the solar charging station. I have to say that if it takes 30 minutes for a phone to be charged 3%, the technology isn’t going to catch on. Phone went back to airplane mode for most of the rest of the day. While chatting with others waiting for their phones to charge, I saw most of Bombino’s pretty loud and blues rock set.

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Octopus Project

I gave up on the charger and made my way over to the tent to get out of the setting, but still bright sun for a while. A band called Octopus Project were playing to a huge crowd that overflowed out of the tent, probably because they were also from Austin. They had an electronic sound with really heavy bass. It was awesome!

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Temples

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Mono

Next were Temples on the Reverberation Stage, where a huge crowd had gathered. I wasn’t really feeling it too much, so I went to see what was going on in the tent. Mono was playing to a very small and intimate crowd, probably due to Temples being on the other stage. Mono’s music was very cinematic that would get noisy at times. I was really digging it.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

From there, back to the main stage where Unknown Mortal Orchestra were now playing. I made my way up front and got super close to the stage, so close in fact that the bass was literally shaking my clothes. At one point there was a crazy sort of drum solo and the band totally killed it. This was for me an unexpected and very enjoyable set, especially since I wasn’t all that familiar with their stuff.

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Medicine

I had almost forgotten that Medicine were playing, so I went back to the tent. This band is probably best known for the song “Time Baby III” from The Crow soundtrack as well as an appearance in that film. They sounded great and had more than a few diehard fans in the audience. At one point the band was told that they had to end their set and called it bullshit, but with the crowd chanting “one more song!”, they came back out and did one more. The band seemed genuinely pissed off that they had to stop playing, especially since they really seemed to be having a good time on stage, which was evident by singer Beth Thompson’s non stop dancing.

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Acid Mothers Temple selling their merch

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Acid Mothers Temple

Back to the river stage where Acid Mothers Temple were busy lighting their instruments on fire and sounding amazing. Playing in near darkness with just a hint of blue lighting and cool projections on the trees behind them, the band was creating a frenzy of noise. This was simply amazing and they may have won the night because of the cool ass fire on the guitar and cymbals. These guys also get mad props for being real and selling their merch old school out of trunks while taking pictures with fans. Admittedly I couldn’t get into them last year when they played in the tent, but maybe it was the atmosphere down at the river this year that seemed more fitting. Either way, I loved it!

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks were playing in the tent. The people who were there seemed really into them, and they were ok, just not my thing. From there I went over to the main stage for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre were on the main stage. I stuck around for a couple of songs then decided to call it a night as I was getting tired and a few days of alcohol, junky food, dust, and lack of sleep were beginning to catch up to me. Once again, the shuttles were a clusterfuck. You’d think that they would have it figured out by now, but that might be asking too much. Two downtown shuttles came buy as a large group of us still waited for a hotel shuttle. People were really getting pissed off about this. When it finally arrived, people calmed down and were just happy to be able to go back to their hotels and/or the nearby Waffle House. Now, to try to get some sleep before the 3rd and final day.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 1 5-02-2014

Austin Psych Fest 7 Sign

I didn’t get much sleep but I was ready for the first day of Austin Psych Fest! This is my second year going and it’s a little easier since I have a better idea of what to expect. The new shuttle bus stop was located about a block from my hotel, between the Hampton Inn and Microtel. I ended up chatting with a couple of people who were also waiting and found out that we had missed the shuttle by 5 minutes. About 25 minutes later the bus finally arrived to pick up the now sizable crowd and take us to Carson Creek Ranch. I always love this part, because everyone is excited, very friendly, and talkative (this would never happen in Boston).

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

We finally arrived at Carson Creek Ranch where there was a bit of a line to get in, but once through the gates, the layout was pretty much the same as last year, with the exception of a fenced off area on the side of the main stage for those who opted for the deluxe ticket upgrade. Honestly, I didn’t see anything that made it worth $100 extra other than maybe nicer bathrooms. As I walked by the main stage, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were playing and I watched them for a couple of songs before making my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater to see Quilt.

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Quilt

Quilt are a band from Boston, that strangely, I haven’t had a chance to see yet, but today I did and they were great! They played a pretty mellow indie rock set that went nicely with the afternoon and the river behind them. By the end of their set, I was pretty hungry, so I found some food in the form of pulled pork on Texas toast which was amazing!

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Terakaft

While eating, a guy sitting across me and a new friend was telling us about Terakaft, so we made our way down to the river stage to see them. This band is from Mali, Africa. It is hard not to draw comparisons to last year’s Psych Fest headliners Tinariwen. Their sound is similar with Middle Eastern influences. A lot of people walked away impressed.

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Aqua Nebula Oscillator

I made my way over to the Elevation Tent for the first time of the day and caught Aqua Nebula Oscillator. who were playing some crazy music.

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Graveyard

From there, I went back to the main stage to see Graveyard, who had a bluesy, psych rock sound. I was really liking this band and it seemed a lot of other people did too, since I heard a lot of talking about these guys and how much they enjoyed them.

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White Hills

I went back to the Levitation Tent and watched White Hills. They were really awesome psych rock and had a pretty good sized crowd in the tent to see them.

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Black Lips

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Peaking Lights

As the sun was going down, the Black Lips were on the Reverberation Stage. I really like these guys, but wasn’t really feeling it at this point, so I wandered around some more. I ended up at the really dark Elevation Amphitheater to watch Peaking Lights‘s really, really visual set. By that, I mean the images projected onto the trees behind the stage were really cool and trippy. This is always one of the best places to be at night.

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Kadavar

I made my way back to the Levitation Tent for Kadavar, who totally blew me and the rest of the large crowd away! In fact, this was probably one of the best sets of the day. Everyone (including a random guy in front of me at the Frank’s Hot Dogs stand) were talking about them. Kadavar were like hair metal with a tinge of the psych sound. They completely rocked the tent!

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The Zombies

I grabbed what would be my first beer of the day (after multiple vodka based drinks with names that were embarrassing to say out loud), a Newcastle Brown and waited near the main stage for this year’s classic psych band…The Zombies. The Zombies sounded really tight and lead singer Colin Blunstone’s voice sounded practically the same as it did in the 60’s. They did “Time of the Season” and ended with “She’s Not There”, both of which sounded great through the loud sound system! Their set seemed kind of short though.

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La Femme

I went back to the tent because I wanted to see La Femme, who were already playing. This French band completely had the crowd sucked in with a very high energy set. Lots of dancing on stage, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. One band member handed the keyboard to the crowd then proceeded to stand on it, surfing through the crowd. This band’s live show is really something to see! Another of my favorite sets of the day.

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The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols were on next. Despite multiple attempts in the past, I never had a chance to see them live, but now I have and they were amazing! At one point, Anton Newcombe and Matt from Brian Jonestown Massacre came out to sing “Oh Lord“. This totally surprised the crowd (and if you have ever seen the Dig! documentary, you know why). I was totally blown away!

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Brown Sabbath

I went back to the tent to see Brown Sabbath, who are actually a Latin band from Austin called Brownout, who did some funky Black Sabbath covers. They were a last minute replacement for Oneohtrix Point Never, who had to cancel due to an injury. Songs like “Warpigs” and “Iron Man”sounded really cool all funked out with a horn section that had the crowd dancing and it was amazing!

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels were on next and I caught a little bit of their set. but It had been a very long day. I left during their set to catch the shuttle back to the hotel for some much needed sleep and to take on day 2!