10 Bands Worth Seeing at Austin Psych Fest 2014
A riverside ranch, a three-day weekend amongst nature and a stream of psychedelic music may sound like a cult happening (and it kind of is) but more to the point it's the scene of Austin's Psych Fest, a musical celebration of all things mind-bending. In seven short years, Psych Fest has grown from small local concert to internationally attended blowout, big enough to lose yourself in, but small and weird enough to make you mourn SXSW's glory days. The bill for 2014 is stacked, plump with enough trip opportunities to last a lifetime, rich enough, even, to suggest that Psych Fest is Texas' new top-shelf festival.
It's time to start prepping. The May 2-4 event is just around the bend. While the list of acts is huge, ranging from underground electronics to art-pop and neo-psych, there are 10 that stand taller than the rest. These are your Psych Fest 2014 essentials:
10. The Black Angels
Austin's gold standard of psych, The Black Angels, have a sound that harks back to early acid-rock and garage progenitors, specifically fellow Texans The 13th Floor Elevators. While the label "neo-psych" has fallen on deaf ears as of late -- a tag incorrectly slapped on every new band with a vague sense of experimentation -- The Black Angels give the subgenre a good name and then some. Far from mere revivalists, The Black Angels have that rare intuition for kaleidoscopic arcs, and hold their own alongside their aesthetic forefathers. Their live shows are notoriously incendiary, and if their recent gigs are any inclination, 2014 finds the group in stellar form.
9. The Horrors
Psychedelic bands often lose their way in tired experimentalism and unmusical misadventures. The Horrors are no such band. Their aesthetic is aqueous but visceral, driven by blurry melodies and narcotic flourishes. Masters at consumption, The Horrors implement everything from new wave and krautrock to shoegaze and brit-pop in their quest to find rock's pleasure-center. The results are far from watered-down either, maintaining a consistently rewarding romanticism despite the band's knack for borrowing. It's refreshing to have a psych band embrace pop sensibilities rather than drown trying to avoid them. The Horrors add welcome depth to Psych Fest's left-of-center lineup.
Art-ravaged, vomitific and mind-bending, Tobacco's shade of DIY psych is a sonic lobotomy set in cannabis ash and analog fuzz. The figurehead of no-fi maximalists Black Moth Super Rainbow, Tobacco's omni-genre mutations range from campy to grotesque. Yet somehow his maneuvers always swing with musicality, a funky sort of traditionalism -- like bubblegum pop refracted through a meth trip. Fans of Wavves, Jay Reatard and Ty Segall will find plenty to celebrate at Tobacco's Psych Fest set.