Music without limits: 6 bands to watch at Austin Psych Fest
Austin Psych Fest returns to the wooded retreat of Carson Creek Ranch for its sixth incarnation this weekend. A tribute to the psychedelic rock movement, Psych Fest spotlights the "best new vanguards of mind expanding music," while paying tribute to legendary artists from around the world.
So which new names and legends should you catch for a surreal weekend of music without limits? We've broken down our picks by region, from local to international.
Warpaint (Los Angeles, California)
West Coast-based Warpaint is an all-female exploration of the more sensual side of psychedelic rock. With haunting lyrics and vocals that sometimes reach Bjork-esque tonality, Warpaint is chill enough for solo listening, but bold enough to overwhelm a tree-lined stage on the outskirts of Austin. Escape with a listen to 2010's "Set Your Arms Down," then return to '60s sensibility with hooky "Billie Holiday." Warpaint plays 8:30 p.m. Friday on the Reverberation Stage.
Roky Erickson (Austin, Texas)
We would be remiss to profile Psych Fest bands and forgo a mention of the genre's grandfather, Roky Erickson. In 1960s Texas, Erickson was a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators whose release of Psychedelic Sounds shaped the trajectory of the tweaked-out brother to rock 'n roll. Like the story of any great legend, his life has been riddled with substance abuse, mental illness and many falls from grace, but he plays on. Erickson takes to the stage on Sunday ahead of The Black Angels and The Moving Sidewalks, promising a singular modern music experience.
The UFO Club (Austin, Texas)
A sort-of psych super group, The UFO Club was formed on the grounds of Psych Fest. The Black Angels' Christian Bland and Night Beats' Lee Blackwell moonlight as the frontmen of this psychedelic band named after the famed London venue of yesteryear. The sound throws back to signature '60s psych styling, rife with brassy drums and noisy guitar fills. The UFO Club plays the Psyche Fest Kick Off Party at Red 7 on April 25.
VietNam (Brooklyn, New York)
The band may be based in Brooklyn now but it was born between a few friends at UT back in 2004. Michael Gerner fronts an ever-rotating cast of band members with a gnarly beard and raspy voice for a meandering, dense dose of rock 'n roll. He's saidGavin Bryars’ “Sinking of the Titanic” has been VietNam's greatest influence this go-round. Check it out at 6 p.m. Friday at the Elevation Amphitheatre.
Bass Drum of Death (Oxford, Mississippi)
Up-tempo but with a bite, Bass Drum of Death is one of those bands that fools listeners with a sound that's so robust, you'd think it were a six-piece act — but it's actually just two dudes. One on guitar and one on drums. They've said their album is "the soundtrack playing in your head when you're fucked up and walking home in the middle of the night," and we believe it. It's pretty messy and really fun. They go on the Reverberation Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Black Ryder (Sydney, Australia)
What is it with Australia and its uncanny ability to nail psych rock? The Black Ryder does not disappoint Aussie predecessors like Tame Impala with twangy, electronically tinged rock 'n roll. The Black Ryder collaborates a good deal of guest artists, meaning their range can go wide. It's also a welcomed change of pace to hear a female voice woven into the fabric of the festival. See the duo on the Elevation Amphitheatre at 10 p.m. on Saturday.