Levitation day 2 in pics: JAMC, Primal Scream, Health, Ryley Walker, Earth, Tamaryn, Creepoid, Black Ryder & more
photos by P Squared Photography; words by Bill Pearis
JAMC / Health / Primal Scream / Tamaryn @ Austin Psych Fest 5/9/2015
How could Primal Scream's Bobby Gilespie have not come out and assume his old role as Jesus & Mary Chain's drummer on at least one song from Psychocandy, the album he played on and that JAMC were doing in full at Levitation fest? Primal Scream played directly before the Mary Chain, it's not like he wasn't there. It's not like the drum parts on that album are difficult. It's not like everyone who realized the connection didn't think for sure it would happen. For that matter, how could Primal Scream play in Austin, the hometown of the 13th Floor Elevators, at a festival named after an Elevators' song and at which the Elevators were reforming the next night to play... and NOT do their fantastic version of 13th Floor Elevators' "Slip Inside This House"? I don't know, both shoulda, but didn't.
Apart from those very minor, somewhat nerdy grumbles, Day 2 of Levitation was about as perfect a day as you could hope for at a festival like this. No threats of rain, good vibes and some of the best performances of the weekend. The Jesus & Mary Chain have never been the most exciting band live, but their headlining set was better than I expected. They sounded great and even though I've listened to Psychocandy a zillion times over the years, I was still caught off guard by how many favorites there are on that record. Hopefully the tour will come East at some point.
The first half of Primal Scream suffered from bad sound (you could barely hear the guitars) as well as it being heavy on the band's "rock n' roll" songs. Personally, I can go the rest of my life without ever hearing "Rocks" or "Jailbird" again. But the set picked up when they started into their trippier material ("Kill All Hippies," "Higher Than the Sun," "Swastika Eyes") where bass was more of the point. Also, Bobby Gillespie remains the consummate frontman, rail-thin, and able to project rock n' roll attitude even when the music doesn't. Primal Scream will be in NYC next week for two shows.
Neither set was as good as the one that proceeded them: Thee Oh Sees' blistering, dual-drummer attack that had the main stage crowd fully amped. Before them on the main stage were sets from Seattle's Night Beats (standard garagey psych rock, but they do it well) and Costa Rica's Las Robertas who were funny and charming and one of the surprises of the weekend for me.
Other things I saw: Philadelphia's Creepoid do overdriven, pummeling shoegaze right; Ryley Walker's set at the Elevation Amphitheater, and his jazzy, jammy folk made for perfect sunset music; Bejiing's Chui Wan made off-kilter prog that was like a palette cleanser of the jean-jacket psych prevalent at Levitation (not that there's anything wrong with that); Israel's Vaadat Charagim spun hypnotizing guitar patterns; and LA band The Black Ryder are almost a perfect synthesis of Mazzy Star and Slowdive.
I missed Health's set entirely but caught the last few songs of Tamaryn's set after JAMC finished. Her new band, which includes Weekend's Shaun Durkan and Ice Choir's Kurt Feldman, helped bring her dreampop vision to life, with more emphasis on "pop" than previously. She's got a really good voice and doesn't need to hide behind reverb. I wish I'd caught more -- maybe I'll catch her again when she plays Brooklyn's Saint Vitus.
Pictures from Levitation day 1 are HERE and more of day 2 are below...
Fever the Ghost
The Black Ryder
Thee Oh Sees (more here)
Jesus and Mary Chain