Good weather and great music continued to prevail throughout the weekend of 2014’s Austin Psych Fest. If you’re just tuning in, click here for Day 1 coverage of the festival. The next two days packed just as much of a punch as Friday, but with a different vibe than the first day. Day 2 went from mellow musings by the river to a dance party, all in one day.
Before diving into music acts, it would be amiss not to reiterate just how stress free the act of attending this festival is. It’s tucked away out sight in east Austin near the airport, and if one travels a little way out of the city there’s one thing we’ve got plenty of in Texas—open spaces. This means parking is no problem, with a huge open field with enough room for everyone. Quite different than another huge festival in town that shall not be named where there’s basically no parking whatsoever, so you either have to take a bus, cab, or find someone who’s not going to drop you off. Sure this festival had busses and cabs too, but if you wanted to be self-sufficient, it was no problem. Lines were never a problem getting in, security was reasonable and at no time did you ever feel overcrowded.
Music knows no language barriers—it is the international language. Yet, most major US festivals make very little attempt to include international acts, save for your rare Phoenix or Daft Punk. This is another way Psych Fest stands apart, with groups from across the globe, such as The Boogarins from Brazil. Singing in Portuguese and providing ample amounts of reverb, this band brought chilled-out jams, both instrumental and with subtle vocals. Again, it was very fitting of the riverside stage, which makes me think some musician/stage placements were strategically chosen for mood and scenery to compliment each other nicely.
To keep the international flavor going, next was the electronic trio from France, Zombie Zombie playing in the tent. Two men sat in front of drums and sequencers while another man in the back stood in front of several keyboard and even occasionally whipped out a saxophone for some snazzy solos. The interesting thing about their repertoire is that most of it is based on the soundtracks of film legend John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, etc). Most of their music did sound like it would make a good soundtrack for a post-apocalyptic dance party, but it also felt a little bit like 5-cent chewing gum—it lost its flavor/appeal quick and became boring and repetitive.
Next up in the tent was Moon Duo, a fuzzed-out rock band that’s hard to pin down. Some of their music came across akin to the groove of the Raveonettes, while other times it was like cacophonous shoe-gaze. But this combination should be no surprise since it’s fronted by Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson. He seemed stoic as he played, his face hidden by a long grey beard and sunglasses. But as long as keyboardist Sanae Yamada and he keep cranking out effortless jams, that’s ok. A festival highlight for certain.
The nighttime is the right time for a band like The Horrors, who showcased tracks from the brand new album ‘Luminous,’ as well as tracks from earlier albums. The setlist was so tight, with each track flowing into the next song, creating a thick atmosphere and emotional journey of soul-searching, alienation, and even a glimmer of hope. Lead singer Faris Badwin is fascinating to watch perform—like a Gothic Ichabod Crane, so tall and lanky, hanging like a ghoul on his mic stand and leaning into the audience, singing with conviction. A particular highlight was “I Can See Through You,” which elicited the feeling of racing through dense clouds at the speed of sound.
Next was one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend—The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Having never seen them live before, my own anticipation was incredibly high. The band made us wait for the first time all weekend, arriving 20 minutes late but launching into a set that was greeted with shrill excitement from the audience. From the first song you could tell the band had the audience in the palm of their hand. All the tambourine player had to do at the start of a song was shake it a certain way and people already knew what song it was going to be and went wild. But in contrast to this warm reception was a set that at least to these ears that was incredibly mellow…maybe even too mellow. Don’t get me wrong, the band was great and giving a powerful performance but like last night it just wasn’t what I was in the mood for. All of a sudden I heard a thumping.
Across the field a thumping beat could be heard from inside the tent. Brightly colored lights lured me away from zoned out feeling of BJM and towards Of Montreal. Wow what a contrast; this tent was a party! “Gronlandic Edit” was blasting as bodies writhed around to the rhythm. Keeping the celebration going, the band then played “The Party’s Crashing Us Now” which had everyone singing along at the top of his or her lungs. The feeling of this concert was like stumbling onto the greatest party in town.
The band stuck to the mid-00s and finished up their set with two more tracks from ‘Hissing Fauna,’ “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” and “The Past is a Grotesque Animal.” Perhaps they knew that at 1am, they needed to stick to the most fun, most recognized material to keep the party jumping, but really at this point the band and audience were locked in so tight in celebration the band could have literally done anything and gotten unquestioning approval. Leaving the tent a sweaty, exhausted mess, it was obvious that the mid-set switch was the best decision that could have been made. It was the perfect way to end Austin Psych Fest Day 2.
Written By Jarad Matula
Photos by Jarad Matula
OurVinyl | Associate Editor