About Last Night: Levitation Night Three (10/28)
The ATH team split up on Saturday, as we all had different musical agendas; JWags was bouncing all around the downtown area, hustling to catch as much as possible, while Nathan headed to the Far Out for a day filled with traditional psychedelic sounds. Check out how our days went!
Thoughts from Nathan: Begrudgingly, I drove really far out to the Far Out, knowing that if I wanted to check out the acts on my list, I’d have to overpay for beer and parking. Several of the acts on my list were there, plus some old standbys, so musically it was calling, but it did have some issues. I’ve already harped on the pricing and lack of parking/food, but as I spent my evening there, it brought up another issue of why the space just didn’t seem to fit the festival, for me. As an attendee since the beginning, I’ve always valued the diversity of the lineups; they’ve done really great job as of late including artists outside the traditional realms, but yesterday, it was a pretty traditional take on modern psych, which is where my problem begins. After about three bands, everything blended together, musically. Performances were good mind you, but if you were to be bored, you had nowhere to go, nothing to do. I miss the vendors, the games, the open space where you could just kind of drop out on your own or with your friends. And, because of proximity to the rest of the goings on, you either are staying there, or you’re going elsewhere. I mean, I understand the need for another midlevel stage, but yea, there were times where I definitely whish I could have bounced.
Musical Magic: The Austin acts, Daiistar and the Black Angels, both lived up to their expectations; the newer act has one of the best bassists in town, in terms of style and execution; the old standby, well, they do what they do, delivering thumping psychedelia that began this whole festival. But, you’ve got to see Lorelle Meets the Obsolete. Hands down, my favorite act of the day; they’re not tied down to any one genre, and the performance, while not outlandish, was exhilarating. Lots of noise and electronics, thrust into the genre. Nice to see the Veldt again; they always seem packed with melody, disguised with stellar musicianship, so its no wonder they once took the stage with acts like Jesus and the Mary Chain. As for Brian Jonestown Massacre, I felt like Anton didn’t go full Anton, so that’s nice, as I’m kind of over that schtick. There’s a lot of noodling about on stage between tracks, sans banter, so it could be a bit frustrating from that perspective, but when they turn on, musically, you just melt right into the ground.
Winners: Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, especially their drummer.
Losers: My wallet. The Dandy Warhols were a snore.
Thoughts from Jwagner: Heading into the evening my goal for the night was to seek a change of pace. Last night was full of the heavy hitters and huge venues, so I wanted to go small scale in contrast. While Nathan was playing his “old man yelling at cloud” act at Far Out again, I ventured downtown into the seedy underbelly of Austin proper.
First stop was Hotel Vegas for Cumbia night, and leading the bill was Austin’s own El Combo Obscuro. The sextet brought the sleepy venue out of its shell and there was no stopping the train after that. After a short intermission and a refuel of cheap Lone Star tall boys, the real party started courtesy of Gio Chamba. The Houston duo brought with them an energy that few can rival with Coffee Guzman on congas and Gio Alejandro on guitar over a backing Cumbia track. Guzman is the quintessential hype man who exudes a spirit of celebration and warmth with every massive slap of the skins. Inject this man into my damn veins! They even ended the set with a Cumbia cover of Khruangbin‘s Dern Kala, which was just what was needed to end the set. What an insanely fun show…Highly recommended if you get the chance.
Having realized there was simply no topping what just occurred at Hotel Vegas, I switched venues to hit West 5th and Antone’s in what turned out to be a rift in time and space. There I witnessed the Zealots of the Grandmaster churn out an epic performance in reverence to the Grandmaster. The intergalactic orchestra donning matching fezzes and
dark futuristic shades beckoned in an appearance of their Lord and Savior, who standing 7′ tall in a golden crown acquiesced in shredding on the Fender. They were new to me and now all I need in life is a battle of the bands between the Golden Dawn Arkestra and Grandmaster to beckon in the end of times. Following that religious experience, NY’s Ghost Funk Orchestra kept the party going with their “sonic kaleidoscope”. Another surprise for me in an evening that just kept. getting. better! The ten(?) piece act with powerful brass section were simply cathartic.
Last up for the evening after a short walk through the madness of 6th St. on Halloween Saturday was the pick I was most looking forward to heading into the evening. With only 2 shows stateside in this format, legendary rock band Mercury Rev assembled their Clear Light Ensemble for a mesmerizing live score of Th. Dreyer’s 1932 film, Vampyr. It was the perfect choice for the Halloween weekend and a spooky and unnerving way to end an epic Day 3 of Levitation.
Overall, the evening showed the true depth of curation of the Levitation team. They continue to amass bills that surprise, endear, and question your life choices. 10/10.
RayRay’s Randomness: I was on date night duty last night so I was away from the festival shows in and around downtown. We headed over to ACL Live after seeing the craziness of 6th street on Halloween for a short but enchanting set from Slothrust. Yeah I know, the show was packed for that Front Bottoms band, but they aren’t really in my lane and I thought Leah Wellbaum and company stole the show. Leah is truly a rock n roll goddess for me and she controlled both the stage and audience while surely winning over a ton of new fans with old tunes like “Crockpot” mixed in with newer singles “Maybe Maybe” and “Cranium”. A wonderful, 40 or so minute set, with precision sound, was a nice break from the festival venues. Not Levitation, but yeah you should listen to Slothrust. Love em.