The 11th annual Levitation festival commenced November 7-10 in Austin, TX. An event known for their abstract offerings, the former ‘Austin Psych Fest’ utilized a multi-venue setup in collaboration with the thriving downtown Red River Cultural District to deliver legendary performances by the likes of John Cale (Velvet Underground), Chelsea Wolfe, Dinosaur Jr. and The Flaming Lips. Here are a few memorable moments from the weekend:
Goosebump inducing revelations and tales of love and heartbreak coaxed a chilly Thursday night crowd into cozied bliss as Angel Olsen reveled in the expansiveness of her latest material. Several takes from the singer songwriter’s latest release All Mirrors showcased dynamic arrangements which included a strings addition reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg’s sultry, pain-tinged masterpieces.
“We don’t want you to die, we just want you to suffer the rest of your life”. The Black Angels and friends have spearheaded this festival since its origination, and this year front man Alex Maas utilized the Waller Creek stage to deliver a spellbinding solo performance by the water. Joined by Jake Garcia (also of the Angels), Maas’ slinky, spooky grooves petrified the air as seemingly oblivious passersby marching along the creek for the simultaneously occurring art show. The locale has a rich, psychedelic-rooted history; Janis Joplin and Powell St. John (occasional member of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators) were once in an Austin band called The Waller Creek Boys.
Perhaps the noisiest, most immense moment of the weekend on the Stubb’s main stage was the return of Dinosaur Jr. Having played the same venue ten years prior, Mascis ripped through a career-spanning set on his signature 60’s sunburst Jazzmaster. A cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and a guest appearance from co-headliner Kurt Vile on “Crumble” rounded out the hour plus set.
Happy Melted City
After announcing that they will be taking an indefinite hiatus after 2019, it was a treat for the Levitation crowd to witness both the power of Pittsburg’s Black Moth Super Rainbow, as well as the solo project of frontman Tomas Fec, Tobacco. The glitchy, vocoder laced grooves of BMSR washed over an eager, frenzied dance party at the outdoor stage at Mohawk to close Sunday evening, and the evening prior Tobacco swirled heads to open for Bristol electro-kraut favorites Beak>.
After releasing an album with Ty Segall last year, Tim Presley and his primary project White Fence (which includes his brother on guitar) made a departure from his primordial garage beginnings to perform a set of nearly all fresh work off this years I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk. The title track tetters between a Willy Wonka fever dream and delusion, with euphoric organs coalescing with mischievous guitar twangs. The result was an unpredictable, lush and roguish response to any attendees who made the mistake of having them pigeonholed.
words and thoughts by Lindsay Krause
photos by Nicolette Alexis Endra