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Trippin’ Out in TX: A journey through Texas’ psychedelic music scene

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

The Black Angels return psych to Texas. Christian Bland is pictured on the far right.

Whether it’s a retro-regurgitation of pop culture, a guitar-rock renaissance, a great time for drugs or a confluence of it all, psych is booming in American music. “There’s a lot of bands playing in garage and psych, the ’60s kind of style,” says Bland. “There were some when we started, but there’s been an explosion that we’ve seen all around the country when we’re on tour.”

To help keep the psych movement churning, Bland and the Angels founded the Reverberation Appreciation Society. “Our goal is to preserve the heritage of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll that we believe started here in Austin and to keep the legacy alive and to push it into the future,” he says.

The Reverb Appreciation Society record label has recently pressed wax from up-and-comers Holy Wave and Night Beats, and Reverb’s annual celebration Austin Psych Fest has joined the big wigs of the Austin festival circuit.

“The idea came about in 2008,” Bland says. “Having been on tour for two and a half years at that point, we’d met so many cool bands around the country. We decided, ‘Why not throw a psychedelic gathering with our friends on the Saturday before SXSW?’” Since then, Psych Fest has ballooned from a SXSW satellite to its own three-day palooza on Carson Creek Ranch.

“It’s almost doubled every year since we started,” says Bland. “Last year we had 3,500 [attendees]. Our goal is to continue to grow every year. But not by sacrificing and having Toyota come in or something crazy like that. We want the organic and not [to] force any random bands that don’t fit Psych Fest. It has to be a psych-influenced band.”

For Psych Fest 6, “psych-influenced” takes a broad, poptimist definition, concerned more with the mind-manifesting spirit than with the psych rock style. Indie icons Avey Tare and Panda of Animal Collective both play solo sets on Saturday and Sunday, while vaporwave pioneer Oneohtrix Point Never plays Friday night. Of course, the Reverb Appreciation Society chartered some traditional acts too: The Black Angels, ’60s icons the Zombies, San Fran legends Flamin’ Groovies and South London’s Loop, touring the US for the first time since 1990.

In Austin, psych’s heartbeat obviously pulses strong, but if you roll your windows down for a Friday night drive on the St. Mary’s Strip, you’ll hear psych creeping back into SA’s sonic landscape, too. The chameleonic pop of the Flower Jesus Quintet, Crown’s pulsating blues-psych rhythms or Lonely Horse’s spiritual visions burst from SA venues on a weekly basis.

Marc Anthony Smith, who drums with Creatura, “of the Jefferson Airplane school,” and fronts and plays guitar in the Mockingbird Express, “from the Jimi Hendrix school,” credits SA’s psych interests in part to the vanguard up I-35. “It’s a feedover,” says Smith. “It’s like a watering hole. We go up there, get nourished, get worn out and come back. But it’s a return of the style, the psychedelic ethos never left.”

In 2014, with psych re-emerging via exciting new bands in SA and Austin, Texas’ children of tomorrow are becoming heavy once again.

Austin Psych Fest

2pm-2am Friday-Sunday, May 2-4
Carson Creek Ranch
9507 Sherman (Austin)

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