The third and final day of Austin Psych Fest | Levitation Fest brought eager fans to watch some of the most anticipated acts of the whole festival. From the wildly fun show of The Flaming Lips to the 50th year reunion of 13th Floor Elevators to the last-minute addition of the enchantress Chelsea Wolfe, the closing day delivered an amazing lineup for fans.
This band from Monterrey, Mexico was good enough to stop me from walking and make my way to the Levitation Tent to catch their set. Their set had a certain thing that made it so good, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it. The crowd was in love with them and wildly cheered at the end of each song, and 20 minutes into the set, more people joined the crowd. Their songs were filled with heavy guitar riffs and deep, looming vocals that kept repeating a phrase over and over again the same way an angry kid would mutter to himself when placed in time out. The band describes their sound as “heavy guitars, distorted bass, grave voice melodies,” on their BandCamp, and they stayed true to that statement all throughout their set. The fact that I looked up their Bandcamp and downloaded their music is just further proof of how amazing they were.
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
Halfway through Los Mundos’ set, I went to the main stage to catch THE GOASTT (per the schedule). I had no idea who The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger was, and I think that should be grounds for automatic expulsion from the Cool Music Kids Club because it is fronted by John Lennon’s son Sean Lennon. That’s a pretty big deal, but if it is such a big deal, how come none of the people I was with recognized Lennon backstage? Or even knew he was in the band? So this had me wondering: am I the problem? Or is this an example of a band who has bad publicity? I went with the latter because I am afraid of self-realization. Accompanying Lennon was his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl who wore probably the greatest dress of the weekend. Of the month. Of the year. As for their set: I didn’t dig it at all. I’m not sure really what it was about it. Was I in a bad mood at 6:00 PM that just made me not enjoy them? Were they not my cup of tea? I don’t know what is the reason, but I left two songs in to go backstage to drink my 4th can of coffee in an hour. The crowd loved them because no one else left to get a caffeine rush, and they all cheered, but I guess they saw something I didn’t, and that’s completely fine.
I’m still perplexed by the entity that is Mac Demarco. Three years ago, he played a free show at Fitzgerald’s. Now, he’s playing some of the biggest festivals in the world. I don’t understand. It sounds like I’m hating on Demarco, but I’m not. All I want to know is how this happened. I partly think Pitchfork Media’s hype around him made this happen, but I don’t truly know what force is at work here. My other guess is that Demarco has a hell of a PR team behind him. Hit me up, Mac.
Ok, now, the show gave me partial clarification on why he’s as big as he is. The man can deliver an amazing show. It was childish in a sense, and just like how DIIV’s set two days prior was not too serious, Demarco’s was the same way. His accompanying bandmates all joked around and added a very friendly vibe to it. You almost wanted to jump onstage, drink a beer with them, and just … chill. The crowd that formed for Demarco showed just how big his music is getting and with good reason. I’m sorry I doubted him before, or that I left halfway through his set when he was in Houston three years ago. I now know that Demarco is a show worth standing in the heat for, and the crowd feels the same way because they all loved his magnificent Sunday afternoon set.
After Mac’s set, I made my way to the Levitation Tent to watch Nothing. To be honest, the only reason I went was because my favorite music label, Sargent House, was promoting it. It was a great surprise to see such a solid act without really knowing of them. The band delivered a powerful rock set that had everyone in the crowd feeling very punk, very rock, very everything. Their set was a great live rendition of shoegaze sounds that gave you chills at the perfect execution. The crowd gathered and became bigger as their set progressed, and even artists, including Chelsea Wolfe, watched their set from the side.
13th Floor Elevators
The most anticipated act of the day came onstage before The Flaming Lips. In my opinion, 13th Floor Elevators should have closed the festival instead of The Flaming Lips. I heard people saying that The Flaming Lips were a better closing act, but are we really going to put theatrics over a 50th year reunion? Anyway, 13th Floor Elevators brought most of the Sunday crowd to the Reverberation Stage late at night. The set brought 10 levels of nostalgia and complete awe. Anyone in the crowd that night could have been asking the same thing: “Am I really here? Is this really happening? Am I seriously watching one of the most iconic bands in the world?” I sure was, so I must assume everyone else did. Their set was 12 songs long, and I felt offended. Why would you constrain this reunion to finish before The Flaming Lips went on instead of switching their scheduled appearances and letting them play longer? I still don’t understand. Maybe the band asked for that slot. I don’t know. I’m still annoyed. But anyway, the set wasn’t received as warmly by spectators. Many people started leaving and some commented how the set felt off. I don’t know what they mean because the 30 minutes I saw felt pretty on, but people probably heard something I wasn’t musically educated enough to understand. It was a solid act for a solid festival that really delivered to the high expectations.
The final act of my night was Chelsea Wolfe. I have been following Chelsea Wolfe for 5 years now and have seen her get bigger and bigger. I love her more than I love most things, so seeing that she was added to the lineup days before the festival began made me happier than anything else. Coming to Psych Fest was one thing, and then seeing Chelsea in such a serendipitous way made everything all the better. She debuted two songs that sounded perfect enough to make God cry. Her set also included songs like “Moses,” “Mer,” “House of Metal,” and “Feral.” The latter is one you have probably heard from the Game of Thrones commercials. The crowd that formed for her set was a large one considering she was playing right in the middle of 13th Floor Elevators and The Flaming Lips. I assume the crowd left early from 13th Floor Elevators, as I did, to watch her set because, honestly, it couldn’t be missed. Chelsea Wolfe, along with her band (bassist and keyboardist Ben Chisholm, drummer Dylan Fujioka, and new guitarist Aurielle Zeitler), played through 45 minutes of intense, drone-y, ethereal, heavenly tunes that could make angels cry. Honestly one of my top three sets of the weekend. If you haven’t listened to Chelsea Wolfe, you’re missing out. Her new record, Abyss, comes out on August 7th, and the lead single “Iron Moon” is out now. Get familiarized with her work because she is getting so immensely huge that you will regret not seeing her at a festival or at a small, private show. Her sweet, yet haunting vocal stylings are enough to leave you breathless. Chelsea is a siren, the stage is the Sirenum scopuli, and we are sailors being lured to a sweet, musical death. TL;DR: The set was beyond good. The festival was a cathedral and Chelsea Wolfe delivered the sermon. That’s how good it was. I don’t know how many more bad analogies I can use to fully convey my feelings.
By Diego Bermejo