13th Floor Elevators Reuniting at Austin's Levitation In May

Categories: Reverberations

Photo by Jason Wolter
Elevators front man Roky Erickson at Houston's Continental Club on Halloween night 2013
Here's a Friday the 13th surprise we can only hope turns out to be true: Levitation, the trippy three-day weekend formerly known as Austin Psych Fest, has already landed some big names this year, like Spiritualized, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream and Tame Impala. But Friday morning the festival announced arguably the grandaddy of them all, Houston's 13th Floor Elevators, will close the event on May 10 in what is billed as a "50th anniversary performance."

Surviving Elevators Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall, John Ike Walton and Ronnie Leatherman will share the stage for the first time since 1967 and be joined by numerous "special guests," Levitation announced today. The festival is scheduled for May 8-10 at Carson Creek Ranch outside of Austin; single-day tickets are now on sale at austinpsychfest.com.

"Each year a few bands on our wish list get checked off, many that we've had on the list for many years," Rob Fitzpatrick, Levitation co-founder and booker, said in a statement. "Having the 13th Floor Elevators on the festival lineup is just something we hadn't even dared to dream about.

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The Ugly Beats Pick 10 Rare Texas '60s 45s

Photo courtesy of NightTrain PR
The Ugly Beats aren't nearly as self-consciously cool as many of their Austin musical neighbors, because they don't need to be. Honed by a decade or so of near-constant gigging at 512-area nightspots such as Hotel Vegas, Beerland and the Carousel Lounge, the quintet's garage-pop is as sincere as it is spot-on. Soaked in reverb, surf licks, that eternal Byrdsian jangle and oodles of Farfisa, their songs celebrate the '60s without ever seeming stuck there, while the band keeps them coming at a good enough clip for three full-length albums now, most recently July's Brand New Day (Get Hip).

Lately their Houston visits have been increasing (they'll be back to play Rudz next month), a development most definitely to our liking. In fact, before they play the Big Top Saturday night, the Beats will do a 3 p.m. matinee at Cactus Music as part of the "Peace Love & Rescue" benefit for the no-kill animal-rescue program SMART Rescue. We asked the band's Joe Emery to pick out ten of his favorite rare '60s 45s by Texas bands, and he sent back the following list within 24 hours. That ought to get us all through the lunch hour. Good stuff below...thanks, Joe!

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The Long, Strange Trip of Austin Psych Festival

Photo by Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of Austin Psych Fest
Christian Bland and the Revelators
When I woke up last Saturday morning in Houston deciding whether to attend Austin Psych Fest, I had barely wanted to go. When I got to the grounds near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, my worst fears were realized: the heat was unbearable, it was dusty, and I spent that afternoon wandering around like a Giacometti statue trying to figure out "Wat Se Fak?" (German for "WTF") I was doing there.

If you're looking for rest and relaxation, this festival might not be the vacation for you next spring. Although thankful for the lift, paying $5 for a chartered school bus to Carson Creek Ranch felt like something out of the commune scene in Easy Rider. Considerably more avant-garde than most music fests, APF was populated by bands with ambition. It's not a place for people to come lounge and luxuriate, but an environment for people who are really, really into music.

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Indian Jewelry Gears Up for Another Austin Psych Fest

Photo courtesy of Indian Jewelry
As Austin Psych Fest sprawls across this weekend in the state capital, Houston's own Indian Jewelry help kick off the festivities with an opening-night show at downtown venue the Mohawk. A veritable celebration of the counterculture, the festival is an homage to 1960s psychedelic rock and is quite simply a music gathering both similar to and unlike any others.

According to Indian Jewelry's Tex Kerschen, who fronts the band with his significant other Erika Thrasher, his group is making their fourth appearance in seven years. A festival press release lists the group's many touring incarnations since 2002 as, among others, Hong Kong, the Turquoise Diamonds, Benzene Lotion Rash, the Corpses of Waco, Electric Fuck All, NTX+Electric, and the Perpetual War Party Band

"The festival organizers have been doing it all themselves for years now, cutting out middlemen, working directly with bands, and have succeeded in avoiding a lot of the corporate malarkey and psychic distances that plague music festivals," Kerschen says via email. "And the festival grows and grows. They really love what they love, and they've done a good job moving some of that around."

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Roky Erickson at the Continental Club, 10/30/2013

Photos by Jason Wolter
Roky Erickson & Hounds of Baskerville
Continental Club
October 30, 2013

You don't have to know a whole lot about Roky Erickson to know he's written some of the most touching, sweetest songs around. "Starry Eyes" by itself belongs on any halfway decent pitching-woo playlist.

But maybe some other time. Wednesday was the night before Halloween, and Erickson was made for Halloween.

The set list scans like EC Comics' greatest hits -- vampires, demons, ghosts, two-headed dogs and one creature with an atom brain, among other nightmares. Erickson's lyrics only peer further into the maelstrom; not that they were entirely audible Wednesday, but his gruff yet anguished bark said plenty on its own.

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Spud Boys' Revenge: Devo's Innovative Videos Drive U of H Crowd Nuts

lenticular Devo pin, 1982
On November 30, 1982, two years after "Whip It" made its rounds through radio and television airwaves, Devo's spazzy music had become the encapsulation of everything pop culture at the time had to offer. Though their catchy synths and calculated kitsch had brought them to fame, come the band's second performance in two back-to-back shows at the Cullen Performance Hall in the University of Houston, a good chunk of the crowd could care less. The venue was far over capacity, and few expected to hear Devo's one Billboard hit.

But on this night, a brand-new technology was expected to premiere to many eyes. It was going to be a video-synchronized concert, with Devo performing in tune to their own video clips projected on large screens behind them, equipped with simultaneously moving props and lighting.

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Moving Sidewalks Finally Book Houston Reunion Gig -- at $225/Head

A biker gang has done what Houston's top concert promoters have so far been unable to pull off.

Granted, the Deacons of Deadwood is no biker gang. They might kick our ass for using such a term. (We hope not.) But the Houston-based nonprofit, a motorcycle club that takes its name from its annual trip to the massive Black Hills rally in Sturgis, S.D., announced earlier today that the Moving Sidewalks will play its 12th annual charity ball on September 28 at Bayou Music Center.

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Hazy Highlights From This Past Weekend's Austin Psych Fest

Ed. Note: Austin Psych Fest brought the weirdos to the state capitol this weekend for sets by big legends like The Moving Sidewalks and small ones like Silver Apples. Our friends at DC9 at Night in Dallas, writer Jesse Hughey and photographer Tracie Louck, were there to brave the mud and reverb to bring you these dispatches.

Photos by Tracie Louck
The sun setting over the Saharan desert music of Tinariwen marked for me the first moment that Austin Psych Fest truly felt like we were somewhere else completely. Tie-dyed kids, a guy in a curious mirror-and-disco-ball-bedazzled pink getup and the usual festival dirtbags in black concert tees swayed and spun to the hypnotic Malian African blues unwinding from the band's hand drums and acoustic guitars.

Before that, Besnard Lakes and Vietnam had both built up the kind of droning, reverberating rhythmic grooves that set the mood for getting a good buzz on in beautiful Texas weather. Now it felt like we were somewhere else completely.

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Moving Sidewalks Dust Off Their '60s Brooms In NYC

Sidewalks 0401.jpg
This weekend the Moving Sidewalks, best known as the band Billy Gibbons was in before ZZ Top formed, were once again a living, breathing, kaleidoscoping musical being. Gibbons and the other Sidewalks - Tom Moore (organ), Dan Mitchell (drums) and Don Summers (bass), all of whom still live in Texas - drew a full house to B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill near Times Square Saturday night.

If you ever wondered what a primitive ZZ Top might sound like slathered in psychedelic '60s organ, you can stop.

The psychedelia didn't stop with the trippy tunes, including covers of "Wild Thing" and Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and "Foxy Lady." The guitar the 63-year-old Gibbons was playing featured an illuminated green blob on a screen embedded into the body.

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The Rocks Off 100: DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there, too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

A "selecta" was originally the guy who selected the reggae vinyls from the crate and passed them along to the person playing them through the sound system.

The term has since evolved to symbolize the DJ himself. DJ Meshak has been selecting reggae, dancehall, and dub records at art shows and warehouse parties in Houston for almost a decade. Foregoing fancy mixers, headphones and computers, Meshak uses an old telephone receiver to throw down one of the realest music experiences you will ever find in Houston.

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