The latest additions to the lineup for Levitation Austin have been announced, and (no surprise) they’ve added more great acts. Ty Segalland Thee Oh Seesadding second shows is great news for fans who couldn’t make one or the other. Count me in for Segall’s Friday show, especially since Ron Gallowill also be playing the same night and location. Other additions that caught my eye are No Joy, True Widow, Pow!, L.A. Witch, Jjuujjuu, and Holy Wave.
It’s quickly getting to the point where set times will be announced and sacrifices will have to be made to determine which shows we can make. Plus, tickets will go even faster once set times are determined. Don’t wait much longer to get your tickets.
Ty Segall reaches deep down into his deep bag of rocks and pulls out an uptempo dance number, an armload of guitars and a hardcore jam, urging us ultimately to jailbreak from the self-imposed thought prison we’ve all been raised in. No, tonight’s not the night, do it now! Denée Segall‘s lead vocals hammer home “Meaning” with unbridled strength: “I see fear in freedom…” Is this what’s holding us back? Ask yourself, man!
Ty Segall Tour Date: Fri. Nov. 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room (LA United for Puerto Rico benefit) Sat. Dec. 9 – Mexico City, MX @ Hipnosis Festival
Segall has also been announced as the headliner for the first Levitation Austin 2018 kick-off party. He’ll be playing April 26th at Stubb’s BBQ in downtown Austin with Parquet Courts and A Giant Dog. Tickets for that show are already on sale.
File this under: Best News You’ve Heard Today. Austin, Texas’ annual Levitation Festival returns April 26-29, 2018.
The flagship Levitation festival (the others are in Chicago, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Angers, France) was cancelled this year after the organizers, the Reverb Appreciation Society, took a heavy loss due to the 2016 Austin festival being cancelled due to storms and flooding. Make up shows were quickly scheduled, but many attendees got shut out of those thanks to ruthless ticket scalpers. The RAS bounced back a bit this year with their Angers festival, but fans hoped the Chicago, Austin, and Vancouver shows would return soon.
There’s no word on the Chicago festival (which is usually the first of the four and held in early spring), but the announcement of the Austin festival’s return is great news and a good omen for the other Levitation shows.
Tickets for Austin aren’t on sale yet, but don’t wait too long to score them. The demand will be greater than normal. See you there.
The first wave of band announcements includes the Black Angels, Slowdive, Acid Mothers Temple, and Kikagu Moyo. As usual, the Levitation festivals always have a great lineup, and this will be no exception. Get to Angers, France if you can.
British psych-rock four-piece Temples have a new album, Volcano, and are currently taking the U.S. by storm on their latest tour. Their last album, Sun Structures, is a lovely piece of psychedelia. I caught them at Levitation Austin a few years ago and was surprised by how heavy their set was. Seeing them at VIVA PHX will be my first time seeing them in a small venue, so I’m keen on hearing that surprising sound up close and personal.
Hailing from Los Angeles, psychedelic rock duo Jjuujjuu create massive desert soundscapes through Phil Pirrone’s guitar work and Ryan Knights’ drumming. Their new single, “Bleck,” is a wallop of distortion, reverb, and mind-altering chord progressions. I missed these guys a couple years back at Levitation Austin. I got there just as their set ended and the crowd went wild for them, so I’m keen on starting out my VIVA PHX festival by getting my face melted.
Levitation Austin always brings in at least one Tuareg artist, and Imarhan played a packed house at the Empire in downtown Austin. It was early in their first U.S. tour and they put on a fine show of uplifting music.
These two maestros of their respective instruments (Gourisankar on tabla and Indrajit Banerjee on sitar) wowed the crowd at the Stoop Inn. My wife and I were right in front and their energy had us and the whole crowd buzzing.
They were the first band we saw at Levitation Austin in 2016, and they had to play an abbreviated set due to showing up a bit late (Thanks, Austin traffic.). As a result, they played a wham-bam-thank you ma’am set of all their rockers. They threw down the gauntlet early.
#22 – Bleachedat the Grog Shop in Cleveland, Ohio October 21st.
They were a blast, the venue was great, and the crowd was appreciative. They were even better live than I thought they would be and friendly to anyone who stopped by their merch table after their set.
I saw Night Beats three times in 2016. This was the second time, and the third time I saw them came in at #26 on my list of live shows and was only two days later at San Marcos’ MR Fest. They closed the first night of Levitation Austin, after nearly everyone had learned the festival had been cancelled, and they made everyone forget their blues for a little while. It was a raucous set, and we all needed it.
Which shows made my top 20 for 2016? Come back tomorrow to find out.
We began the fourth day of Levitation Austinby heading to Threadgill’s restaurant for their Sunday gospel brunch buffet. The buffet was average, although the sweet potato pancakes are a delight, but the music by a band whose name I never found was classic country. I knew we were in for a good show when the lead singer asked, “Any Flatt and Scruggs fans out there?” My wife and I were the only ones who yelled in the affirmative. Sigh…
We then went to the famous Museum of the Weird, where I took part in a circus sideshow involving a man immune to AC electricity (getting zapped by him a few times). We also saw things like this.
I gave a dollar to a homeless guy we’d seen the night before getting shooed out of a food truck vendor lot by a woman who said, “Move on, Karate Kid!” We’d seen him three times, so I wanted to give him something. He asked everyone, “Do you have a dollar?” I finally had some change for him, so I gave it to him while he rested on a gas meter outside a building. Austin has a large homeless population, many displaced by the gentrification of downtown. I hope the city is addressing the issue.
I didn’t miss the irony of helping a homeless man and then grabbing lunch at Terry Black’s BBQ, where I had some of the best smoked turkey I’ve ever eaten. I liked it better than Stubb’s, which is more famous. Afterwards, we headed to Symphony Square in time to see the last half of Indrajit Banerjeeand Gourisankar‘s set at the river stage.
“This is my favorite part of the weekend so far,” my wife said.
We chatted with them after their set and gave them some ideas about Indiana theaters that might host them. They told us they were playing at the Scoot Inn later that night – the same place we had tickets to see Golden Dawn Arkestra. It was going to be a good evening.
We went to the Scoot Inn right away to get decent parking. We saw the construction crane upon which many people sat to see over the fence the night before when the Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre played there. We met more festival attendees while standing in line. People complained about scalpers selling tickets for up to $100 each (20x face value apiece) and not getting to see any bands scheduled for the festival. One couple behind us got to see a pop-up gig by stoner metal masters Sleep. They wanted to see at least one band from Levitation, even if they didn’t like stoner metal. Other people hadn’t learned about the makeup shows until they were sold out. The couple in front of us had gone to MR Festand saw La Luz perform there.
We got in and saw Blondi’s Salvationhad been added to the lineup. They got the show off to a good start with their French blend of psych rock.
We had seen Puerto Rico’s Fantasmes at the 2014 festival, and we were surprised to hear how much heavier and darker they’d become since then. They looked and sounded like a Latino version of Interpol. It was a good set that made me want to seek out their newest material.
I was pleased as punch by this point because not only had Fantasmes delivered some fine music, but I discovered the Scoot Inn sold an Austrian radler that I hadn’t had since a trip there almost three years ago.
Indrajit Banerjee and Gourisankar played a half-hour set after Fantasmes. We got up front for it. One of the sound guys walked past and said, “This is going to be bad-ass.”
“He’s right,” my wife said. He was, and so was she (as usual). The Indian music masters wowed the crowd and had everyone booming with cheers by the end of their set.
The night ended with a wild, powerful performance by Golden Dawn Arkestra, who I can best describe as a combination of Goat and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The band is as big as their Afro-jazz-funk sound. I counted seventeen people on stage at one point, and there was even a dancing wizard in front of the stage during the whole show to boot.
People were bouncing during the whole set. I heard many raving about it after it was over. One woman was happy she hadn’t left after Fantasmes as she had planned. I told her I was glad she stayed.
I was glad everyone stayed for the whole weekend. I’m sure many turned around and went home when the festival was cancelled, but many toughed it out and either attended the makeup shows, went to other gigs, or had their own parties.
Levitation Austin 2016 will be remembered as “the one that got cancelled,” but it will also be looked upon as a badge of honor if you were there. Everyone has stories from the other festivals, but this one will have stories that become legends.
I hope to see you next year, Austin.
Keep your mind open.
[We hope to see your e-mail address in our subscription box.]
We awoke Friday with no plan of what to do or where to go. We weren’t in panic mode, mind you. Austin’s a fun city and you can find plenty to do there. Live music is always happening at some place in town. I snagged a copy of the local alternative newspaper and scoured it for anything fun. The folks at Levitationhad also Tweeted they were going to post the schedule and locations of makeup shows as soon as possible.
We decided to see a movie at one of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters in town. I discovered on the way there that many gigs had been scheduled for the weekend, and tickets were only five bucks apiece. I ordered tickets for a Friday night show at Empirefeaturing Imarhan,Indrajit Banerjee and Gourisankar, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Klaus Johan Grobe, and others. The other shows scheduled for the rest of the weekend sold out in minutes. The website crashed from so many people attempting to access it, meaning many were left high and dry for tickets. To make matters worse, scalpers went to the venues and bought fistfuls of the five-dollar tickets so they could attempt to reap a heavy profit from the desperate festival attendees.
We saw Keanu, and it’s good fun. I figured the city would be soaked in the predicted rain by the time we left the theater. Nope. Not a drop. The day continued with warm weather and cloudy skies, but no rain. Twitter was buzzing with angry Tweets to Travis County Emergency Services. Even I Tweeted, “Is your meteorologist of choice going to issue an apology for their erroneous forecast? This is egg on your face.”
They replied that “forecasts change” and they had to go with the information they had at the time. I replied that I understood their position, but they needed to issue a press release instead of the Levitation coordinators being responsible for dispensing all the information. Not doing so made them look even more like the grumpy men who cancelled the festival to spite all the hippies and freaks.
They did send out links to official statements not long after this. Their fire marshal explained that the ground was so saturated from previous flooding that they told the Levitation coordinators that they’d have to find alternate parking before the festival since people would get stuck there if the predicted rain came through, not to mention that it would flood the entire camping area. No alternate parking or camping areas could be found, so the festival was cancelled.
It turned out to be the right call because the predicted heavy storms came through around 4:30am on Saturday. 60mph wind gusts, hail, heavy rain, lightning strikes, and tornado warnings were involved.
But you’d probably like to know about the show we actually saw. We had a tasty ramen meal at a downtown restaurant and got to Empire in time to see Klaus Johan Grobe. They played a fun set of electro funk that we really enjoyed. We probably wouldn’t have seen them at the main festival because their set was during someone else’s I wanted to attend, so it was a lucky break for us.
I wandered to the outside stage to see the beginning of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ set. I didn’t stay for all of it because the humidity and heat was brutal out there. The venue had put up a long tent over the outside portion of the stage to protect the sound boards and attendees from more potential rain. The rain never came, but the humidity did. It combined with the heat of hundreds of bodies and was stifling. I went back inside to see Nots play their Bikini Kill-inspired rock set .
We were disappointed when sitar master Indrajit Banerjee and tabla masterGourisankardidn’t play. I figured their set must’ve been cancelled. I didn’t find them playing anywhere in the venue and was on my way to get a drink when I saw them in the bar chatting with people. I asked Gourisankar if I missed their set. He laughed and said their manager had mixed up the venues and they thought they were supposed to play the Mohawk (about two blocks away) at 10:00pm instead of at Empire at 9:00pm. He introduced me to Indrajit, and both were very pleasant and asked where I lived. I told them northern Indiana “near South Bend,” and they said they’ve played at the University of Notre Dame many times. I told them I DJ’ed there and they said they were looking for more clubs in Indiana to play gigs. They invited me to a free show they were playing on Sunday at Symphony Square so we could talk more about it.
Up next were Imarhan, a Tuareg band who were high on my list this year. They didn’t disappoint. They played a great set of African / Arabic / desert rock that had the crowd moving, clapping, and cheering.
We stuck around for part of a Prince tribute by local band Foot Traffic, but left once a large part of the outside crowd stuffed into the indoor space and shot up the heat in the room by about 200%.
I couldn’t get tickets for any of the Saturday shows. I was eager to get tickets to see Bayonne and Caribou, but they were already going for at least $40 each on Craigslist. In case you forgot, that’s eight times face value each.
I had to find something for us to do, and I did in a town about 25 miles away. It involved music, and it was all free.
Up next: Mr. Fest, indie rock, Night Beats, and free CD’s.
Keep your mind open.
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We flew into Austin for our semi-annual trip to the Levitation Music Festivalon April 27th. I dropped my sunglasses in the Austin airport, cracking the left lens. It wasn’t in a spot that affected my vision, but it still wasn’t a good sign. There were no festival-related gigs going on that day, so we spent our first day in Austin getting good food, and checking out the Sfanthor wax museum and a couple wrecka stows before settling in for a nice sleep at the Air BNB house we’d reserved months ago.
Day 1 of the festival was actually April 28th. The Thursday night pre-festival shows are always worth flying into town a day ahead of the full festival. My wife and I have seen great bands at the Thursday night shows: A Place to Bury Strangers, Night Beats, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Elephant Stone, and more.
The festival had expanded the Thursday night shows from two venues to three this year. Unfortunately they also added separate admission prices for each venue. Buying a weekend pass to the festival got you into the Thursday night shows for free in previous years. The Levitation promoters have stated they hope to return to this format in the future. I hope they do, as shelling out another $30.00 (for two people) per venue wasn’t something I couldn’t afford. I had to choose just one of the venues, so I chose the Empire – a converted auto mechanic garage with indoor and outdoor performance areas.
We’d get to see Night Beats, the Blind Owls, the Hollow Trees, Al Lover, the Golden Dawn, and Studded Left there. It meant missing Blaak Heat, The Well, Death Valley Girls, Silk Rodeo, the Turns, Vinyl Williams, and the Coathangers at the other venues, but I won’t skip a chance to see Night Beats, the Golden Dawn are Texas psych legends, and the Blind Owls were a new discovery that sounded like they were good rockers.
They were. The Blind Owlswere the first band we saw at Levitation, and they kicked it off well. They, like us, arrived late due to heavy traffic on I-35, so their set was cut a bit short. “No slow ones,” my wife said as they launched into early 1960’s garage-style rock that knocked you back on your heels.
I met most of them afterwards and told them I’d be playing them on WSNDthis summer. They said they’d send their full-length album for me to play there. Let’s hope so, because everything from it sounds great.
I saw posters at Empire advertising the official app for the festival. I downloaded it and then I learned what everyone else was learning.
Levitation Austin 2016 had been cancelled.
Travis County Emergency Services pulled the plug on the festival due to flash flooding the previous week causing the festival grounds at Carson Creek Ranch to be oversaturated with water. Further flooding was a serious concern, mostly for the camping and parking areas. There were also predicted heavy storms due to hit Austin the following day around 1:00pm – exactly when the festival started. These storms were supposed to bring hail, 60mph winds, rain, and maybe a tornado or two.
We were stunned. We’d flown from Indiana for this. We knew that thousands were descending upon the city for the festival, many from even further away. People and bands come from England, Australia, South America, Europe, Africa, Japan, and even more countries for this festival. Campers would be left without places to stay. Bands would be left without gigs. Vendors would be left without sales.
The Levitation folks were as shell-shocked as any of us, but they promised full refunds for purchased tickets, and that they would scramble to find venues for makeup gigs throughout the weekend. Those gigs would be a separate admission price, unfortunately, and would likely sell out since thousands would be competing for tickets to a small venue. The upside was that the proceeds from these shows would go to victims of the recent flooding.
The word quickly spread as we watched the Hollow Trees play their trippy and heavy psych rock.
After that came a good set by the Golden Dawn, who played to an appreciative crowd.
Back inside, people were drowning their sorrows with any drinks they could buy. We sat in the Control Room, the Empire’s interior performance space, for part of psych-DJ Al Lover‘s set and mused on what we were going to do all weekend. Would we still get to see Brian Wilson, Lee Scratch Perry, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Caribou, Slowdive, the Black Angels, David J and the Gentlemen Thieves, or any of the 20+ bands we wanted to see?
We were cheered by the Night Beats, who have yet to play a bad set whenever I see them. This set was faster and angrier than their Levitation Chicago set in March. It was as if they were saying, “You know what? Screw you, bad weather.” and venting everyone’s frustrations. One great highlight was them including a new cover of Bo Diddley‘s “Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut.”
We caught the first part of Studded Left’s (a side project of Indian Jewelry) set inside before getting some nice food truck BBQ and then heading to our rented bedroom to sleep off our travel exhaustion and blues.
Tomorrow: Scrambling for tickets, crashed websites, breakfast in outer space, Travis County ES faces wrath, and gangster kittens.