The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators & 10 Early Texas Psych Bands You Should Know
Forty-six years ago today, rock and roll got a hell of a lot weirder in the state of Texas. On Nov. 30, 1966, Austin garage band The 13th Floor Elevators released their The Psychedelic Sounds Of album on Houston's International Artists label. Powered by the raw, fluttering classic "You're Gonna Miss Me," the record helped fuel an acid explosion in rock from Buffalo Bayou to San Francisco Bay.
This is a record that still sounds edgy and unbound today. In 1966, it must have sounded shocking.
The Elevators were on the bleeding edge of a new psychedelic movement, and the influence of LSD shown through clearly in the album's name, sound and artwork. Though the deepest reaches of inner space remained largely unexplored by rock and roll at the time, intrepid LSD explorer Tommy Hall helped infuse the group with his lysergic philosophy and pioneered usage of the electric jug, the hooting instrument that gave the record its appealingly strange sound.
More than a few micrograms of magic ink have been spilled in the Houston Press and other outlets in recent years about the Elevators and their dynamic frontman, Roky Erickson. As one of the touchstone bands of the early days of psychedelic rock, it's no stretch to say that they tower over Texas' lively psych scene, as much now as then. Even those of us raised on rap and metal know the Elevators.
But what about the other Texas trippers who followed in their wake?
Unless you're a counterculture survivor or a serious record collector, it stands to reason that you might not be familiar with the likes of Red Krayola, Shiva's Headband, Fever Tree and the other sonic adventurers who orbited the Elevators at clubs such as Houston's Love Street Light Circus and Austin's Vulcan Gas Company -- at least, I wasn't. The anniversary of the state's first real taste of psychedelia seemed a good occasion to dig in and learn more.
Turn on, keep hydrated and alert your trip sitter, because what follows is a novice's primer on Texas' earliest (and best) psychedelic sounds.