For years now, Austin’s The Black Angels have been throwing their own hometown psych-rock festival, Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest, renamed in 2015 in honor of the city’s psychedelic pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators). Once upon a time out on a ranch (that got rained out in 2016), it has since moved to venues across The Live Music Capitol of The World’s downtown, returning Wednesday-Sunday, October 27th-to-Halloween:
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27th
The Sword, Nothing, Starcrawler, Frankie Rose, Here Lies Man, Enumclaw @ Empire
Bringing the metal is Austin’s own The Sword (QRO live review). The heavy metal band has previously opened for the likes of Metallica and Motörhead, but can more than hold their own (QRO live review). They come back to Levitation behind 2018’s used Future, so watch out (QRO live review)!
From hardcore into shoegaze has been the evolution of Nicky Palermo, who has found critical success with the searing Nothing (QRO photos at a festival), in albums like 2014’s Guilty of Everything (QRO review), 2016’s Tired of Tomorrow (QRO review), 2018’s Dance On the Blacktop (QRO review), and last year’s The Great Dismal (QRO review), and now return to Levitation (QRO photos at Levitation ‘15).
The wild, expressive glam-rock of Los Angeles’ Starcrawler (QRO photos) come to Levitation to Devour You.
Back at the end of the aughts, Frankie Rose (QRO photos) was a ubiquitous face in New York’s garage-rock scene, from Crystal Stilts (QRO photos with Rose) to Vivian Girls to Dum Dum Girls, before going out on her own. She comes to Levitation (QRO photos at an Austin festival) behind 2017’s Cage Tropical (QRO review).
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28th
Chicano Batman, Crumb, Angelica Garcia @ Stubb’s
Los Angeles’ Chicano Batman (QRO photos at an Austin festival) first got notice in 2014/5 with Cycles of Existential Rhyme, but last year went full-on Gil Scott-Heron with 2017’s Freedom Is Free and energetic live show (QRO photos at a festival). After being booked at the cancelled 2016 edition, this Dark Knight (QRO photos at a Gotham festival) finally swings into Levitation behind last year’s Invisible People.
Fuzz, The Well @ Mohawk
Boy Harsher, Drab Majesty, Nation of Language, No Joy, The Vacant Lots, Public Practice @ Empire
Savannah electronic duo Boy Harsher (QRO photos in the South) have garnered a cult following, such as with their underground hit “Pain”, and come to Levitation behind 2019’s Careful.
Enjoy the lush, eighties soundscapes of Los Angeles’ Drab Majesty (QRO photos in Texas), including costumes and makeup.
Montreal shoegazers No Joy are Levitation regulars, playing their fourth edition behind last year’s Motherhood.
Post Animal, Pearl Early, Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, Being Dead @ Hotel Vegas
Chicago’s psychedelic Post Animal (QRO photos in Austin) come to Levitation behind last year’s sophomore full-length, Forward Motion Godyssey.
The Octopus Project, Deep Time, Botany Moon Kissed @ Scholz Garten
A local who’s been around the world, Austin’s own The Octopus Project (QRO photos at an Austin festival) is one of the few instrumental indie bands that’s as riveting to watch as any with a singer (QRO photos at a festival). The Octopus Project (QRO photos at an Austin festival) return to Levitation (QRO photos at Austin Psych ’14) to bring a refreshing élan to post-rock electronica, such as 2009’s Golden Beds EP (QRO review), 2010’s HEXADECAGON audio-visual project, and 2017’s Memory Mirror. They’re also known for their wide range of instruments (and the fact that everyone seems to switch around what they’re playing each time), from guitar to theremin (QRO photos at a festival). And they bring come class wherever they play, thanks to their suit & ties – and the Yvonne Lambert’s ballroom gowns (QRO photos at an Austin festival).
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29th
The Black Angels, Tinariwen, Ami Dang @ Stubb’s
Austin’s great music scene has many dimensions, but the band that opened up the psychedelic side of the Live Music Capitol of the World is The Black Angels (QRO spotlight on). The group (QRO photos), fronted by Alex Mass (QRO interview), bring the psych-rock of 2013’s Indigo Meadow (QRO review) and 2010’s Phosphene Dream (QRO review) and more back to Austin (QRO photos at a festival), after having toured all over America (QRO live review) & Europe (QRO photos at a European festival), not to being the creators of (and regulars at) Levitation Festival (QRO photos at Levitation ’15 – QRO photos at Austin Psych ’14). They come back to Levitation (QRO photos at an Austin festival) behind 2017’s Death Song.
For truly world music, check out Tinariwen (QRO photos at a festival). The group of Tuareg-Berber musicians (QRO photos) came out of the Sahara deserts of northern Mali (which was in revolt against the military coup in the south of the country, before Al-Qaeda took over and the French invaded) following time in the refugee camps in Libya. They’ve been in Qaddafi training camps, served as rebel fighters, all the while making and spreading music about their people (QRO photos at a European festival). The new century/millennium saw the group finally get attention around the world, including big-name fans like Bono, Thom Yorke, and TV On the Radio, and return to Levitation behind 2019’s Amadjar.
black midi @ Mohawk
England’s math-rock black midi (QRO photos at a festival) come to Levitation behind May’s Cavalcade.
George Clanton, Negative Gemini, Magdalena Bay, Death’s Dynamic Shroud, Caroline Loveglow, Equip @ Empire
Connan Mockasin, Connan Unplugged, Bost’n ‘n Dobs’ Plugged @ Scholz Garten
From far off New Zealand comes the psychedelic pop of Connan Mockasin (QRO photos at a festival).
La Luz, L.A. Witch, The Paranoyds @ Hotel Vegas
Surf rock from Los Angeles, of course, La Luz (QRO photos at an Austin Festival) come back to Levitation behind this year’s Live from the Black Hole.
A Place To Bury Strangers, Ringo Deathstarr, Blushing, Daiistar @ Elysium
Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers (QRO spotlight on) challenge Spinal Tap for claim of ‘loudest band ever’, but AP2BS (QRO interview) are also skilled musicians, from their self-titled debut full-length (QRO review), 2009’s Exploding Head (QRO review), 2013’s Onward To the Wall EP (QRO review) & Worship (QRO review) full-length, 2015’s Transfixiation (QRO review), 2018’s Pinned (QRO review), and this year’s Hologram EP (QRO review). They (QRO interview) come to psych out Austin once again (QRO live review).
Though they hail from right in Austin (QRO photos at an Austin festival), Ringo Deathstarr (QRO spotlight on) have found more success in the U.K. (QRO live review in England), to the point of signing to a British label and even adding the ‘u’ to the title of their debut, Colour Trip (QRO review) – but they still find time to play their umpteenth Levitation (QRO photos at Levitation ’15).
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30th
Thundercat, Shabazz Palaces @ Stubb’s
Known for his psychedelic excursions, Thundercat (QRO photos at a festival) has worked with the likes of Flying Lotus, and won a Grammy working with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly. He (QRO photos at a festival) has been compared to the likes of Jaco Pastorius for his precise and experimental basslines, and last year (QRO photos in 2019) his fourth studio album It Is What It Is won him his own Grammy for Best Progressive R&B Album, and now comes to Levitation (QRO photos at a 2021 festival).
Hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces hail from Seattle (QRO photos at a Washington State festival) – that’s why their Black Up (QRO review) was released by indie label Sub Pop, better known for starting the grunge sound from up there thirty years ago. But they’ve also got Butterfly of nineties alt-hip-hop outfit Digable Planets (QRO live review), and come to Levitation (QRO photos at a festival) after being booked for the cancelled 2016 edition.
Andy Shauf, Sun June @ Mohawk
Kikagaku Moyo, Frankie & The Witch Fingers, Holy Wave, Acid Dad, HooverIII @ Empire
The “geometric patterns” of Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo (QRO photos in Austin) bring Deep Fried Grandeur back to Levitation for a second time in a row.
Cloud Nothings, Sweeping Promises, Pleasure Venom, Ganser, Glove @ Hotel Vegas
Dylan Baldi (QRO photos) throws back to music older than he as Cloud Nothings (QRO live review) with 2012’s Attack On Memory (QRO review), 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else (QRO review), 2017’s Life Without Sound (QRO review), and this year’s more mature The Shadow I Remember (QRO review), and brings his power-pop to Levitation (QRO photos at a festival).
Shannon & The Clams, Levitation Room, Silver Synthetic, Annabelle Chairlegs @ Empire
Yves Tumor & It’s Band, Harry Edohoukwa @ Cheer Up Charlies
Turin-by-Miami experimental electronicist Yves Tumor comes to Levitation behind last year’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind, with his wild show and It’s Band.
Arooj Aftab @ Scholtz Garten
Uniform, Portrayal of Guilt @ Elysium
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31st
Japanese Breakfast, SASAMI, Sweet Spirit @ Stubb’s
The solo project of Michelle Zauner (QRO photos at a festival), Japanese Breakfast (QRO photos outdoors) already brought Soft Sounds from Another Planet (QRO review) in 2017, and this year wowed the world with Jubilee (QRO review) and Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, including a wonderful return to touring (QRO 2021 photos).
The Hives, The Mystery Lights, Pussy Gillette @ Mohawk
‘The’ garage-rock explosion a decade-plus ago gave a lot of ‘The’ bands, including The White Stripes, The Kills, The Vines, and the most energetic of the bunch – The Hives (QRO spotlight on)! The Swedish outfit (QRO interview) have the kind of explosive & fun live (QRO live review) that Jack White only wish he could pull off, with maximum call-and-response & frenetic activity (QRO photos) all around the world (QRO photos in Europe), plus top hats & tails (QRO photos). The Hives (QRO interview) come to Levitation (QRO photos at a festival) after ‘The World’s First World Wide Web Tour’ (QRO livestream review), ready to rock.
Golden Dawn Arkestra, Kalu @ The Electric Joint, Calliope Musicals, Think NO Think, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad, Sailor Poon, Buffalo Hunt, Urban Heat @ Empire
Influenced by the ultra-influential Sun Ra and his Arkestra, Austin’s own Golden Dawn Arkestra (QRO photos at an Austin festival) is a feast for the ears, eyes, and mind, as they come to back to Levitation.
Frankie & The Witch Fingers, Christian Bland @ The Revelators, Acid Dad, HooverIII @ Hotel Vegas