IPaintMyMind @ Austin Psych Fest 2011 – Pt. 1
IPMM @ Austin Psych Fest 2011 – Pt. 1
…Enter along the train tracks…
The old Seaholm Power Plant building has long been something of a ghost ship moored on the edge of downtown Austin. Trains pass close-by each day, and the daily traffic crawls along the edge of its lawns, and yet nobody ever seems to enter or leave. It just sits there, a tombstone of a building, empty and lifeless most days of the year, save for the lonely lights on its west end that ooze a creamy red-orange “City of Austin Power Plant” across a darkened Lamar Boulevard each night. Indeed, its graying concrete walls and its broken windows have hardly stolen a glance or a thought in the consciousness of the Live Music Capital of the World in recent years.
Truly, it’s quite difficult for anything to gain a name in this city, and Austin Psych Festival is no exception to the rule. It’s an annual festival thrown by local psychedelic rock group the Black Angels, billed with of an eclectic sampling of the best national and local acts working within and beyond the genre. Throughout the modest festival’s three-year history, it has shifted all over Austin, previously being held in March at the Red Barn and the Radio Room, and then most recently moving to April at the Mohawk.
When it was announced, however, that Austin Psych Fest 4 would be held at the Seaholm Power Plant this year, it seemed altogether uncanny and strangely fitting for the two to come together. Suddenly, the power plant had a new soul, and the growing festival was generating positive buzz, with one definite factor being the choice in location. Something in the building’s industrial aesthetic seemed familial with spaced-out guitar solos, and the three-foot thick concrete walls and enormous chambers proved to be an ideal canvas for projected visual shows.
Entering the power plant was like discovering a cavern fit to feed the senses. A cacophony of sounds permeated our entrance to the festival, an immediate audio greeting as two separate concerts echoed off the walls in the crowded booth area. The Main Stage sat to our right in the massive room, and in a smaller chamber sectioned off with plywood and concrete pillars, was the small stage. We found ourselves at the tail-end of a set by Zechs Marquise, and so began the weekend of music.
Here is the 1st half of IPMM’s summary of the musical highlights at the 2011 Austin Psych Fest:
Most easily identifiable by its close proximity to the Mars Volta, this band paired high-energy break beats and digital samples with pounding, bass-heavy and guitar-shredding rock. The group connected extremely well with their audience, engaging participation, moving some to dance, and altogether proving themselves to be a solid, competent, and entertaining act until at one point late in their set where they literally knock the power out on stage. While there is a certain level of irony to losing power while inside of a power plant, it certainly made a contribution to the band’s stage presence and made the show that much more memorable. We later ran into Marfred Rodriguez Lopez, who commented on his own excitement at being involved in a festival and playing in the power plant.
The next act we caught on the main stage was Night Beats, a fierce Seattle three-piece, veterans of last year’s Austin Psych Fest, whose bassist, at the opening of their show, leered into the crowd through a wily set of eyes and said, “Hi, my name is Jamal and my parents don’t understand me,” before delving into a set of classic, hip-shaking rock n’ roll delving into psychedelic and country western, the mandolin-guitar bouncing like knives off the chamber’s walls while the man handling it, Lee Blackwell, followed up with equally striking and talented vocals. A highly catchy and fun band, in all.
The solo project of Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox, Atlas Sounds brought the energy down with a set of ambient sounds and songs all produced using simply an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a myriad of effects, loops, and modulators. This was a highly intriguing set, and an interesting study into just how wide a variety of sounds one can create given such limited parameters, and Cox certainly gave a fine demonstration of a massive sonic breadth, from more easily identifiable, crowd-pleasing tunes, to huge, indiscriminate sound washes.
Plain and simple, these guys rocked. We walked in on the latter half of this set after catching Atlas Sounds, an experience that I imagine akin to simply walking in on early Deep Purple shows. Their group’s hair nearly swept the floor, and their brand of gritty Southern rock came rapidly and decisively. Lead guitarist and singer, Parker Griggs, executed full command of the room with guitar solo breaks that all but cut through the concrete, all the while backed by a highly competent and equally raw rhythm group. And while they broke from the psychedelic mold fit to the majority of the rest of the festival, their colossal energy still made for an incredible live show.
A Place to Bury Strangers
Rumored to be the loudest band in Brooklyn, I had high hopes for A Place to Bury Strangers, and indeed they delivered. A hefty set of extremely dense songs, guitars flung behind their heads, waves upon waves of washed out feedback, dropping back to bask in steady jams before the tides of the flood of sound reversed again. These guys truly filled the concrete cavern with music thick enough to cut with a knife, guiding their raucous set to a blistering, guitar-smashing finale.
photos by Sarah Millender
words by Joey Reyes
editor Evan La Ruffa
Pt. 2/2 of IPMM’s coverage of Austin Psych fest will go live soon!!!