About Last Night: Levitation Night Four (10.29)
Team ATH ventured out into the cold and rainy evening to make one last go of it all. With tons of acts all about town, I feel like we did a great job covering Levitation in its entirety, so it was good to wrap it all up with one final night of great music.
Thoughts from Nathan: Ran into the Empire to begin the night; I wanted to catch El Khat, as one doesn’t typically get the chance to see acts from Israel. It’s a reminder of the hard work on the booking team at Levitation, as their sound is psychedelic adjacent, so they continue to expand their approach. On the first show of their first US tour, the band were ready to go, offering this almost ritualistic experience that enthralled everyone who caught it. Switched to the pop night of the evening, catching They/Live and Say She She, both offering more traditional pop value, reminding me that this evening was a bit of a palate cleanser, giving me a bit more variety in the sound than I might have had the day previous. For my final treat at Empire, I got to finally see Pachyman; I’ve been devouring Switched On, so to finally get to hear some of those tracks live, and to see the artists with a full band this go round, felt really special…not to mention all the gritos from the back of the room. And, as was always my plan, I wrapped up my evening at Stubbs to catch Beach Fossils. It was cold and drizzling, and to be honest, I was pretty miserable. I made it through seven or eight tunes, then decided I had had enough. Decent set, but hard to really get lost in the music when your body is damp and shivering.
Winners: Everything at Empire. Just a great collection of diverse pop styles that I loved.
Losers: $13 beers at the Far Out. Even Stubbs has cheaper beers, and they’re owned by Live Nation.
Thoughts from JWagner: Heading into the festival this year, there was one band that I had circled as a must see. That band was Altin Gun. So on a dreary and chilly evening I ventured down to Empire Control Room to ready myself for what I anticipated would be the show of the festival. I’m getting ahead of myself though, so more on that in a second. Like Nathan, every year I get more impressed with the Levitation crew’s festival curation where on any evening you can settle into a different vibe to suit your preferences. I always revel in the chance to see international acts that I would otherwise not have a chance to see save a SXSW appearance, so the bill last night was simply stacked. I also knew tonight would be a fantastic opportunity to add some color for the sketch series and for me, it doesn’t get any better than dancing and drawing.
Hailing from Tel Aviv by way of Yemen, El Khat brought in the Golden Age of Yemenese folk. Led by Eyal El Wahab on a custom Violitin that he made himself (check out their instagram for the process video), they brought with them driving rhythms and a celebration of eras long past. It was such a honor to see them on their first US tour and cover the show. They only have about 20 US dates, so definitely check them out if you are lucky enough to have them come through your locale. From the garage to the control room, we entered into a completely different era with They / Live, whose dreamy yet brooding electro-pop brought the warmth on a chilly evening, while simultaneously exuding an eerie Twin Peaks vibe. It was a beautiful, yet short set with bassist and lead vocalist Whitney Mower, showered in soft pink tones to create a ethereal sense of longing and love.
Hopping back on the plane we headed west from the Pacific Norwest to NY for Say She She. The powerful femme trio wasted no time in bringing the energy to transform the garage to a proper discotec. It’s no wonder why they are rapidly gaining attention and a following everywhere they go. There was a sincere sense of strength of community in their music which was infectious and left the audience with nothing but smiles.
While Nathan headed inside for Pachyman, I hunkered in to prepare myself for the last show of a whirlwind festival covering 16 bands in 3 days. The aforementioned Altin Gun in support of their latest LP, Ask, was the singular act I targeted in an amazing lineup across the entire festival. While classified as an Anatolian rock and Turkish psychedelic folk band, that doesn’t even come close to covering it. The sextet is simply a force to be reckoned with. Led by the dynamic duo in Merve Daşdemir and Erdin Ecevit traded off vocal duties with a commanding rhythm section in support. Jasper Verhulst’s bass lines stole the show for me. Starting off the show with the driving Rakıya Su Katamam,the train had left the station was not to be stopped. Ultimately, the set met and exceeded my expectations and took the top spot in my favorite show in a weekend stacked with incredible performances. Do not miss them!
Winners: Altin Gun. I’d see them as many times as I could.
Losers: The fact that the Festival came to a close. What an amazing event as always!