Last weekend, psychedelic rock music took Austin by storm (figuratively and literally) at its new home at Carson Creek Ranch. For 3-days, bands from different corners of the world melted faces of eager festival-goers. The ranch was a beautiful location, isolated from views of the city skyline. The best part was the smaller Elevation Stage, with the creek as its backdrop; a favorite of those using psychedelic drugs to enhance their festival experience. Those flying into Austin got a taste of the unpredictable weather we are all-too-familiar with, with a downpour Saturday night that managed to let up before ruining all the fun. For the first time at this outdoor space, the festival did a good job of keeping the learning curve to a minimum, doing a solid job of prep, keeping sets running on time and the overall layout.
I was pretty excited about the lineup, since it featured a good range of contemporary and classic psych rock bands across the genre (and getting a press pass is always a plus.) However, not being super familiar with the genre, I had tons of time to check out bands that I had never heard of; which is a nice change from most festivals, where every minute of my day is scheduled out. Some nice surprises were Black Mountain, King Khan & BBQ Show, Suuns and Holydrug Couple.
The headliners did not disappoint: The Black Angels and Deerhunter were my personal highlights (see photos), as well as Warpaint. The Black Angels are a festival staple, with two of the members being founding fathers of Psych Fest. Deerhunter’s set included a good amount of old tunes and new ones from upcoming album “Monomania,” although they didn’t play my personal favorite “Helicopter.” Frontman Brandon Cox took the stage in a wig and dress, rambling to the crowd whenever he messed up a song or two. Their set was cut a little short, I’m assuming due to rain delays with the previous band Os Mutantes. After receiving the 5 minute warning, Cox ventured to ask if it was a “soft 5 minutes.”
One of the night’s standout quotes from Cox was when he wanted to make their set more “psychedelic” because it was a “psychedelic festival” and went on to criticize the use of psychedelic drugs. He said that he used to try and reach the highest levels of human perception until he realized it was all just a reflection of his own filth and degradation. “And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see a kaleidoscope of that,” he said.