The Austin Psych Fest is a three-day festival dedicated to psychedelic music and visual art culture. This year’s installment features several great bands including the Raveonettes, Warpaint, Pure Ecstasy, Pink Mountaintops, and one the main festival sponsers, Austin’s own Black Angels. For each day, I will post a short of review and picture of some of the different bands that I saw.
While it may have been the shortest day in terms of the number of acts and overall duration, Friday proved to be a stellar opening to this year’s Psych Fest. The outside stage featured three great acts, each bringing something unique with them. Despite the fact that it was a warm night, one could easily found themselves lost in what was being played.
Austin mainstay Ringo Deathstarr got things off to a loud start with their set. The group favored to play their more straightforward rock without any regard for volume levels. However, they played with enough precision and skill to make the noise levels a part of the overall effect. The washes of distortion and reverb tended to drown out the vocals, as is the case with many bands in the noise rock genre. While nothing spectacular, the band played an energetic set that left many in the crowd satisfied, and reaching for the closest pair of ear plugs.
The word “beautiful” is the most fitting adjective to describe Warpaint’s performance. The Los Angeles band completely bowled over the crowd with sheer talent and the power of their songs. Their music is at once vital and delicate, with intricate guitar work and lush vocals taking the forefront. Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman both have heavenly voices, when the other members of the band join in to harmonize, it makes for an otherworldly experience. Some of the standouts from their set included the guitar and vocals-only “Billie Holiday” and the stunning “Elephants.” The former had bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa putting down their instruments to sing with Kokal and Wayman, while the latter combined a gorgeous guitar riff and Kokal’s voice to an astonishing effect. It was easily one of the sets I have seen by any band, and that says a lot for a band that only has one EP to their name.
Making their first appearance in Austin in two years, The Raveonettes finished Friday night on a high note by playing an extremely loud and energetic set. The recent volcano eruption in Iceland kept the rest of the band back in Denmark, so only main band members Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo were able to perform. Despite this, they made the most of their situation by playing to their strengths, namely their harmonizing and instrumental hooks. Both took turns playing guitar and bass, while Foo provided the percussion for several of the songs. It was a brash performance in all the best ways, and the excited crowd was all too happy to sing along. Even without a full backing band, the Raveonettes still were able to give a memorable performace, one that was well worth the two year wait for fans and newcomers alike.