Friday kicked off a little late for us, but we made it to the grounds in time to catch a little of Austin’s Kay Leotard on the Elevation Stage to commence our psych-filled weekend.
The juxtaposition of the band’s provocative garage rock against the serene backdrop of lush trees and cool water, created the perfect setting for the festival’s psychedelic vibes. This seemed to quickly become the favorite stage for the festival-goers that enjoyed the shows on their backs and not on their feet.
Following their set, we unfortunately had to make it back to our Do512 offices to prepare for a Shiner Session with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. (Poor, poor us.) The office began to boil with a wildness as the showtime closed in and the trio in black started hauling their gear into the back doors.
Robert Levon Been, Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro just radiate this coolness that you realize and soon admit that you could never duplicate as soon as you mingle in their vicinity. The trio showed up a little late, but hung out a few minutes after their acoustic set to shake some hands and chat with fans. Seeing their gritty rock and roll stripped down to this acoustic, honest rawness in the Do512 Lounge was legendary.
Even though we could have called it a night and been satisfied with day one of Austin Psych Fest, our blood was pumping and we hadn’t got our fill. We made our way back to the festival grounds just in time to stumble across the Sailor Jerry Airstream, conveniently in search of booze. What we found was the girls of Warpaint loosening up to get matching band tattoos and shouting, “Y.O.L.O.!” We couldn’t really think of a better scenario than drinking rum as Keith Underwood tattooed Warpaint and blasted a Led Zeppelin playlist for us to join in on the inking, so we did.
After a quick tattoo, we bolted to the Reverberation stage to catch round two of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. We’ve already gushed about how amazing these guys are, but to see them first in an uber-intimate setting then in their element on the big stage is on a level of amazingness that can make the most manly and leather-clad get teary-eyed. Before leaving, we headed to the Levitation Tent to catch the tail end of Acid Mothers Temple harmoniously reciting a Japanese verse that not many seemed to understand, but most everyone appeared to enjoy. Day one was in the books and we were more than satisfied.
We trampled out to the festival grounds on Saturday, still coming off our high from the excitement of the night before. All the way from Santiago, Chile, The Holydrug Couple kicked off our day at the Elevation Stage with their tapestry of bluesy and psychedelic rock. We relaxed there long enough to catch some of the U.K.’s Kaleidoscope in crazy, flared pants and all before heading to see Black Mountain destroy the main stage. Before their set was over, we wanted to catch a closer look at the crazy visuals going on at the Levitation Tent for Man or Astroman?, which appeared to explore the depths of space.
We made it long enough in the tent to catch the first two songs of The Warlocks, before deciding that sacrificing our comfort for an ankle-deep mud show was no longer worth it. We accepted the fate of our shoes and used them as mud boats to skid across the massive space between ourselves and the car. We prayed for fast-drying landscapes for day three.
Sunday brought sunshine and dried-up clay, bringing smiles to even those who overcompensated for the previous night’s rainstorms and wore pants and rain boots. (Dammit.) We kicked off the last day with Austin’s Holy Wave in the Levitation Tent before setting up shop over at the Reverberation Stage where we knew we would make home base for a while. White Fence brought out their lo-fi psychedelic rock first, perfect for laying down on a big blanket and taking in the sun. Next up was The King Khan & BBQ Show who dressed up more like King Tut with their gold headdresses and capes. Next, the Austinite and psychedelic rock pioneer himself, Roky Erickson, took the stage where he performed some hits such as “Cold Night for Alligators” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”
Following Roky was the Austin Psych Fest innovators and local legends, The Black Angels. The band performed favorites from their first few albums, but brought the energy with the songs from their new album, “Indigo Meadow.” As the night wound down, we caught snippets of Goat and The Growlers, whom were both lively and sounded fantastic. But, we had to make way back to The Reverberation Stage to get a good spot for The Moving Sidewalks, where ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons would cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” and “Red House.”
Austin Psych Fest has flourished into a beautifully developed festival from its beginnings at the red barn on Burnet Road in 2008. Carson Creek Ranch was a smart location that offered a spacious area to avoid many bumping elbows, and scenic views to create unbelievable stages. The food trailers offered affordable variety, beer prices weren’t that outrageous, and the shopping tents had some cool style that would make you fit right in to any psychedelic festival.
Needless to say, there was an insane amount of talent this year and each of the three stages offered their own vibes and paired effortlessly with the bands that performed on them. The hammocks and Red Bull tents that were set up sporadically throughout the venue provided shade and kept things relaxed while the sun beat down, and the complimentary water stands were awfully convenient. The festival has reached a comfortable level of notoriety that brings in big talent, but still caters to a specific audience. This helped to avoid the massive amounts of people that make it hard to commute between stages and puts Austin Psych Fest up there with some of the best.
Here is what some of our Austin Psych Fest veteran staff members had to stay about this year’s festival:
Rachel Daily- Director of Operations
“Austin Psych fest is when all of the loveliest things in the land (lace pants, floppy hats, uber hip apparel, floppy haired boys and the she-queen that IS the drummer from the Black Angels) gather together and be lovely together.
Than I crash in like a bolt of mis-placed lightening and spill my Dos XX the first two minutes I’m there in my so appropriately planned WHITE floor length skirt. I stayed in the shadows so as not to disturb the ambiance, though, and managed to see some stuff with my little eyes. First of all, Roky Erickson still has it. He held the attention of his crowd the whole set and had some die hard fans there that were totally, totally psyched. I went specifically to see the Black Angels on Sunday of course – see she-queen comment above – to hear their new album, Indigo Meadow live. They didn’t disappoint.
I must admit, I seriously regret missing Deerhunter and Warpaint as they have special spots in my heart. The floating stage was pretty lovely too. Never fails to be my favorite festival in Austin land. Lightening – out!”
Lawrence Boone- Editor
“It has been amazing to watch this festival grow over the years. The first incarnation was a single-stage event in a humble Red Barn on Burnet Road, and now six years later it has grown into one of the most unique, genre-specific festivals in the world. You have to give credit to the creative vision and hard work employed by Alex Maas, Christian Bland, Rob Fitzpatrick and everyone involved with the Reverberation Appreciation Society for bringing Austin’s history as the home of psychedelic rock back to the forefront. To be able to attract an amazing array of artists such as the Moving Sidewalks, Deerhunter, Boris, Goat, Clinic, Tinariwen, Os Mutantes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and dozens more to bring their talents to Austin for a single weekend is quite a feat. The outdoor setting definitely allowed for good vibes this year, and that river stage…wow. Austin Psych Fest 2013 was a blast.”
- via Courtney Goforth