LEVITATION FESTIVAL – Austin Texas October 27th-30th

Posted: October 31, 2022 in MUSIC

Levitation 2022 starts tomorrow! Pass pickup starts tomorrow. Due to a fire at Parish on Monday (no one was hurt, thankfully), we have had to move some shows around. 

Originally founded in 2008 as Austin Psych Fest by members of The Black Angels and friends, the annual festival (rechristened Levitation in honor of The 13th Floor Elevators in 2015) now encompasses four days of performances in venues throughout Austin’s Red River District and East Side, including Stubb’s, Mohawk, Scoot Inn, and Antone’s. While a rumored appearance of Bernie Sanders introducing King Gizzard never materialized, there was no shortage of epic moments over Halloween weekend, with packed crowds taking in sets from The Jesus and Mary Chain, L7, Automatic, Os Mutantes, Hunx & His Punx, A Giant Dog, Imarham, Osees, and many more.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” sighed Jim Reid towards the end of his legendarily noisy band’s glitch-riddled set. His defeated, depressive apology was once again subordinated to the yowling clamor of his brother William “struggling” with an apparently “kaput” guitar pedal. Jim again: “It’s just one of those nights isn’t it?” Is it? Referencing a friend who’s seen the Scottish shoegaze progenitors several times across their four decades, his description of a standard JAMC show 

Saturday with a damn near perfect Heartless Bastards set, the one performance that lingered for me was Australia’s own Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. Having heard of their live prowess in advance of the show, I knew it was one performance that was not to be missed. Luckily for all attendees, (and unluckily for any photogs as it is a brutal place to cover) Mohawk was the chosen venue. The intimacy of the venue paired with Psychedelic Porn Crumpets colossal, unapologetic in-your-face shredding was the absolute pinnacle in a weekend of highlights.

Hunx and His PunxPale Dian, and Blushing. It’s always fun to see Hunx, and seeing Shannon out there enjoying herself onstage was really nice to see; I maybe could have asked for stronger sound, but not sure who that falls on. The shoegaze/dreampop due of Pale Dian and Blushing just brought noise and melody, and reminded me that although they might not carry the hype and adoration of the local scene, that doesn’t mean they’re not two extremely powerful forces in their craft.

Honestly, this festival continues to be a highlight. Every year, they grab from all different areas under the psychedelic umbrella, and we’re always getting the reward. The current format does make it harder to see all the bands on a budget, but definitely rewarding for the show you do hit up. Also, the Austin scene came strong. Pale DianGrivoTrollerBlack AngelsBlushing…not a single one of those bands didn’t punch above their weight class. 

Insane kudos are due to the staff at Levitation. It is safe to say that the event is rapidly becoming one of the most superbly curated festivals in the world these days. Every act on stage this week, bar none, perfectly melded into a stiff Reverberation Appreciation Society cocktail. 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27th 

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

OS MUTANTES • W.I.T.C.H. • SUPERORGANISM • PROTOMARTYR

BABE RAINBOW • SLIFT • AUTOMATIC • IMARHAN

SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN • PAINT
CLAUDE FONTAINE • 70s TUBERIDE • TEAR DUNGEON

top bands from Thursday night. Hey, they were sick to be fair.

W.I.T.C.H. Was pleasantly surprised by this set at Empire where sound can sometimes be an issue. Easily the happiest band to be playing live again after years of lay off. African Jazz vibes.W.I.T.C.H. played their Black Sabbath and James Brown-inspired funky stoner classics, including “Living in the Past,” “Chifundo,” “Waile,” “It’s Alright,” and “Lazy Bones.” All energy, grace, and joy, Chanda said: “We take nothing for granted. Thank you for being here.”

Automatic Super heavy bass lines with the best drummer of the night holding it down.

Protomartyr Detroit’s finest are always heavy while staying tight throughout the set. Lead singer Joe Casey still has one of the best growls in the business. Joe Casey – a poet of everyday desperation – rang out nearly as strong as his band’s impossibly muscular riffage. (Looking the part, Casey earned comparison to a high school gym teacher from somebody near me, though I’d argue State Farm salesman.) Though Protomartyr’s sombre, gray-toned industrial churn was likely some of the least outwardly psychedelic music of the weekend, the singer cast a dissociative spell with ghostly, effect-riddled backing vocals from Breeders sister Kelley Deal. Shuttling in place, spitting his words with nihilistic venom, and at one point manically hollering during a heart stopping “Up In The Tower” – Casey’s apocalyptic declamations held Stubb’s in a vice. 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th 

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR • VIAGRA BOYS • SHAME

PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS • THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS

DESIRE • ACID DAD • GLÜME • CLUB INTL • MOTHERMARY

KILLS BIRDS • WARM DRAG • LEAH SENIOR

Too weird for college rock, too muscular for electronicats, and too psychedelic for the goths that first celebrated them, the Legendary Pink Dots define a cult band. Nonetheless, the Netherlands-based act persists into its fourth decade. Still led by singer Edward Ka-Spel (as co-founder Phil Knight retired from the road), the Dots have only honed their potent mix of pulsing rhythm throbs, strident synth noise, and crunch guitar. Built for studio work, the band compels live with minimalist lights, complementing the rhythm pulse, and the deadpan Ka-Spel reveling in his darkly romantic tales of madness and obsession. The group’s latest “The Museum of Human Happiness” contributed highlights “Postcards From Home” and the wild-eyed “This Is the Museum” on Friday night, 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29th 

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD

SHAME • VIAGRA BOYS • OFF! • HEARTLESS BASTARDS

HUNX & HIS PUNX • THE MURLOCS • SUNFLOWER BEAN

SHE PAST AWAY • LEBANON HANOVER  • TROPICAL FUCK STORM

DEATH VALLEY GIRLS • A GIANT DOG • ALEX MAAS • TEMPERS • BLK JKS

RINGO DEATHSTARR • HOOVERiii • FUCK MONEY • MUJERES PODRIDAS

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30th

THE BLACK ANGELS

L7 • COLD CAVE • LA FEMME • MOON DUO PRESENTS THE LIGHTSHIP

FRANKIE & THE WITCH FINGERS •  SOFT KILL

PLEASURE VENOM • BLOOD RED SHOES • TEMPLE OF ANGELS

BLUSHING • LUCID EXPRESS • DAIISTAR • AMPLIFIED HEAT

And just like that, Levitation 2022 has come and gone as fast and powerful as a Slift guitar interlude. With absolutely no remorse for ear drums, the entire billing unconditionally brought their fucking A game. Earsplitting, breakneck, and with style points in spades, this years fest was one for the record books. 2 nights of Gizz, 4 nights of the OseesLa Femme and Black Angels closing things out, what is not to like? If you were following along, your ATH crew enlisted amongst the thronged masses in the Red River Cultural District this weekend to get a massive dose of culture. We spread out as much as possible over the weekend and below are our major takeaways and favorite shows you should be listening to and seeing live if you get the chance. Until next time, hit the jump. 

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