In the seventh year of the event, Austin Psych Fest has hit its stride. The music festival attracts fans and bands from all over the world. After rotating to a new venue each year since 2008, APF appears to have found a home in Carson Creek Ranch located minutes from Austin-Bergstrom Airport after returning to the location for a second consecutive year. Not only has the festival found a perfect home, the carefully curated roster of acts this year was stellar.
It is hard to decide which set stood out most, the intensity of post-rockers Mono underneath the Levitation Tent, an amazing Dandy Warhols set on the Reverberation Stage opening night or lush melodies of The War on Drugs on Sunday? The truth is all those performances were incredible as were The Zombies, La Femme, The Black Angels, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Temples, Mikal Cronin, Loop and Tobacco. Jeez. When it is written out like this it is apparent how incredibly good the quality of the lineup was this year.
The Black Angels
We might be biased (since they're from Austin) but the The Black Angels set on the first night of Psych Fest was sublimely good. Yeah, it is their festival but Alex Maas, Christian Bland, Stephanie Bailey, Kyle Hunt and Jake Garcia delivered yet another fantastic show that is just as visually appealing as it is sonically. The band integrates the visual aspect with the music so well that it is hard to imagine a show without the lights and projections. The spectacle on stage certainly went a long way to making fans forget about the swirling dust that festival-goers choked on all weekend.
Seeing the band playing the headlining set was just as good as their amazing debut Austin City Limits TV taping last year. The Black Angels played 14 songs in a setlist (see the full list below) that featured a few more cuts from their latest, "Indigo Meadow" than their sunset slot at Maverick Festival in San Antonio last month but basically the same song selection. The second song performed, "Bad Vibrations" from their third album "Phosphene Dream" was greeted with cheers from the crowd when they recognized the introduction.
Snake in the Grass
You on the Run
Young Men Dead
River of Blood
Portland's The Dandy Warhols who have been around 20 years could be construed as an alternate-reality version of San Francisco's Brian Jonestown Massacre. By that we mean the two groups set out around the same time to play music that is similar in genre in two different West Coast cities. There are similarities but also distinct differences as well as a friendly rivalry.
Touring in support of their first live album, "Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia - Live at the Wonder" which is a recording of their performance of the album released 13 years ago with 13 tracks on it. The coincidence was not lost on vocalist/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor who commented in a New Times interview last month:
"2013 was the 13th anniversary of Thirteen Tales. None of our other records have any coincidence like three 13s," Taylor-Taylor says. "The 'whole record in revue' was such a trend — and maybe still is — that we really didn't want to do it at all. Had it been a more obscure record, it would've seemed more interesting but probably would have not sold as well. Just another coincidence that turned out rather well."
The neo-psych rock sound the band has cultivated over the years translated great live as the band worked through their expansive catalog cultimating in an encore that included members of Brian Jonestown Massacre on stage. It was a fitting end to an entrancing, fun set. We like to think that the fact the "rivals" appeared on stage together was a reflection of the friendly atmosphere Austin Psych Fest encourages. It was also a coup for festival organizers who continue to improve the event each year.
SXSW buzz act, Temples from England played a sunset slot on Saturday. While the UK upstarts who also fall into the neo-psych category played a ton of shows in Austin last March, this was the first time we caught them. The hype When Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher both proclaim this young band (formed in 2012) the best new band in Britain people pay attention. And they are correct. Temples are fantastic.
The members of Temples seem to have a refreshing sense of self as well. While they clearly upstaged headliners The Brian Jonestown Massacre, singer/guitarist James Bagshaw proclaimed, "This is probably the best festival in the world in terms of music. There are so many fucking great bands we're excited to see." It was heady praise for Austin Psych Fest but honest as well. Many artists, including Temples could be spotted during the festival watching other performers.
If you have not heard their debut album, "Sun Structures" check it out on Spotify. The material has been on repeat on in the office. We are listening to the album right now. Again.
If you have not had a look yet, check out the incredible photos our photographer Emily Kozel capured. Look for another recap of Austin Psych Fest bands including Mono, Mikal Cronin, The War on Drugs and Panda Bear soon.
Special thanks to Erica Shamaly.