In past years, we’ve often lamented not being able to make the trip to Austin Psych Fest. (In 2009, Austin transplant Victoria Reynard even wrote a full review of APF2 for Portable Shrines so we could at least experience it vicariously.)
This year, a small group of us made the trip to Austin to observe first hand how our psychedelic brethren do it up down south.
Photo by Clarita Hinojosa
Austin Psych Fest 4 was held at the Seaholm Power Plant, an old art deco landmark that has been retired from producing actual power since the 1950s. The inside of the space was completely transformed for the occasion, with two stages set up to accomodate the 50-some bands who made the trek to Texas for our psychedelic consideration. (This year’s lineup was truly amazing…so many bands we were excited to see, all in one place!) We arrived on Friday afternoon just in time to catch Seattle’s own Night Beats deliver an inspired set of rock and roll with the help of special guest Chris Catalena (of The Tunnels and The Ghost Songs).
The Night Beats at Austin Psych Fest 4. Photo by Emily Pothast.
The next day, we caught Night Beats again, this time giving a performance at the Do512 Lounge, a small performance space that hosted small televised shows for several of the Psych Fest Bands (including The Meek, The Black Ryder and The Diamond Center. It was a great chance to see some of these bands in such an intimate setting. We couldn’t stay for long, however, because the afternoon was full of some of the bands we were most excited to catch: Cloudland Canyon, PONTIAK, White Hills, Lumerians, Young Prisms and The Soft Moon all played the second stage on Saturday, before SPECTRUM took to the mainstage for an epic, slow-building performance.
PONTIAK at Austin Psych Fest 4. Photo by Emily Pothast.
White Hills at Austin Psych Fest 4. Photo by Emily Pothast.
Lumerians at Austin Psych Fest 4. Photo by Emily Pothast.
On Day 3, we investigated some of Austin’s more exciting off-site attractions, including the amazing record store End of an Ear and Switched on Austin, an analog synth specialty store featuring immaculate modulars and vintage Farfisas as far as the eye could see. Again, we didn’t have much time because the afternoon was full of more bands we were dying to see: Denver’s Tjutjuna and Minneapolis’s Daughters of the Sun were standouts on the second stage. By the time Roky Erickson and festival organizers The Black Angels took to the main stage, their audience was completely saturated by the ear-splitting, soul-vibrating good vibes.
Switched On Music and Electronics, Austin's synth mecca.
Tjutjuna at Austin Psych Fest 4. (In Austin, bands can have beer on stage!) Photo by Emily Pothast.
Austin Psych Fest is a very special event. People were there to hang out and network as much as they were there to listen to (and play) music, and so in many ways, it seems like the fine folks at the Reverberation Appreciation Society have put together a spectacular alternative to SXSW for those most interested in music on the heady end of the spectrum. If I were to issue any criticism at all of this near-perfect event, it would be that the sound on the mainstage was a little thin compared to the second stage, which was like a full-body vibratory chamber. That and maybe the Pacific Northwest felt a tiny bit underrepresented. (Aside from Night Beats, were there any Northwest bands on the bill? Maybe it’s just their proximity to us, but I thought Eternal Tapestry felt conspicuously absent. Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Kinski, AFCGT and [ahem] Midday Veil would have also fit seamlessly into the lineup, and Master Musicians of Bukkake would have warped it, in a good way.)
Dan Brinner from Skully'z Recordz at Austin Psych Fest 4.
But Northwest psych fans may rest assured that our humble Portable Shrines Magic Sound Theatre Vol. I compilation was all over the fest, from the Night Beats’s merch table to the record booth provided by Skully’z Recordz from New Orleans. It will be exciting to see which psychedelic sounds bubble up from the Northwest underground in time for APF5.
For those of you who didn’t make it to Austin this year, we’ve got a couple of delectable local events in store this week featuring APF4 bands: Cloudland Canyon is playing on Monday, May 9 at the Comet (with Midday Veil, Magnog and Brain Fruit) and Daughters of the Sun are playing next Saturday, May 14 at the Josephine (with Ayahuasca Travellers, Magnog, and This Blinding Light). We’ve also been talking to some of the other APF4 bands who are planning to come up in late summer, more details soon.
(Cuz in Seattle, it’s Psych Fest all year loooooong!)
In Austin, they have this weird ball of light in the sky. They call it "The Sun."