Psych Fest 2013
Friday, April 26 in Austin, Texas
By P.T. Stinson
Arriving from a distance, the Austin Psych Fest could be mistaken for the opening shot of HBO’s enormously entertaining Carnivale series with illuminated light bulbs here and there indicating signs of life, food trucks, souvenir stands and the wares of Patchouli-steeped merchants.
All of this amounts to a decidedly different approach from the year previous at Emo’s in East Austin. While logistically challenging to get to, those who made the effort were rewarded with a refugee camp for the sonically hungry and granted an actual opportunity to participate in a music festival, given that SXSW –outside of the generous supply of free shows– excludes its share of locals not lucky enough to be badged in any manner.
Psychedelic music’s champion of the genre –the Brian Jonestown Massacre–was there in spirit, selling t-shirts at the fest despite not being on the bill, but business seemed pretty brisk at the merch booths, bar and convoy of food trucks that made for a good series of refueling stations, including a coffee car offering a Tarrantino –a chocolate, peanut butter and espresso milkshake.
Indeed, a jolt of that kind was needed after the swoony set delivered by Rough Trade’s Warpaint –a quartet of UK maidens working together to foster a groove and the odd melody, peppered with charming vocals building toward a payoff that sometimes ended too soon.
Indicating that Denmark’s greatest export since Legos may never ever stop, The Raveonettes took the stage with a trio of new songs, while almost entirely avoiding the hits or the signature pieces that have contributed to their following, offering a concession with “Attack of the Ghost Riders” before closing with the extra-feedbacky “Aly, Walk with Me” which is such a great closing piece that it makes you mostly forget that it seemed like the band were trying to figure out what their set would be as they launched into the 2013 tour mode.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Cycle closed out the night on the big stage, with bassist Robert Been opening up the set with a cover of The Call’s “Let the Day Begin” –a touching (and largely unnoticed) tribute to Call lead singer and father Michael Been who was claimed by a heart attack in 2010.
While the charming and reserved Nordic bill-mates let their instruments do most of the talking, Been and company worked the crowd into a frenzy with a mix of showmanship, psychedelic garage hits and power that had the crowd singing along in a manner truly befitting a three-day music adventure demonstrating that the festival and those playing it would be a force to be reckoned with.
P.T. Stinson comprises our one-man NadaMucho.com Austin office.