Editor’s Note: Levitation has been cancelled due to rain in the forecast and danger of flooding.
For one weekend in late April/early May, a private ranch next to the Colorado River transforms for a three-day psychedelic music festival and campground, complete with light projections, wooden swings, art, food trailers and incredible live music. People travel from around the world to come to this other-worldly event called Levitation.
What Is Levitation?
Levitation began in 2008 at Red Barn in north Austin. At the time, the festival was called Austin Psych Fest. Over the following four years, the festival expanded to three days and took place at venues downtown, and at the east Emo’s and Seaholm Power Plant. In 2013, Psych Fest found its outdoor home at Carson Creek Ranch.
The festival is produced by The Reverberation Appreciation Society, a creative collective comprised of Rob Fitzpatrick, James Oswald, and Christian Bland and Alex Maas of The Black Angels. In addition to creating Levitation, they run a record label and organize sister festivals in Vancouver, France and Chicago. But Austin’s Levitation “is on a completely different scale…Austin is the original, the biggest and best,” according to Fitzpatrick.
The name change from Austin Psych Fest to Levitation took place last year to differentiate the festival from other psych fests taking place around the world, to honor Austin psych-rock legends The 13th Floor Elevators and to the assumptions that arise when one hears the term “psychedelic music.”
Fitzpatrick told me:
“I’ve always liked the definition of ‘psychedelic,’ as derived from the etymology of the word: ‘soul manifesting’ or ‘soul revealing.’ That’s what really great art does–it moves you. We strive to present music that is artful and interesting, rather than be tied to a genre or style. As a group, we have always been drawn to the music of the 1960s–the explosion of music and art that was the psychedelic movement. So we’re presenting artists from that period or artists creating music that echoes the music being made then…but also presenting music that echoes the innovation and creativity of that period in the present day…”
This year, the music will be a bold combination of contemporary digital sounds from the likes of experimental artist Flying Lotus, mixed with musicians from the 1960s, such as Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, and international artists bringing Latin- and African-inspired music.
Amazing local bands The Black Angels, Christian Bland & The Revelators, Golden Dawn Arkestra and Ringo Deathstarr will provide a taste of Austin to the harmonious and sometimes satisfyingly cacophonous festival.
One of Austin’s Most Memorable Fests
Fitzpatrick favorite Levitation moment was seeing the 13th Floor Elevators reunited on stage last year. “The weather was threatening all weekend, especially on Sunday. We had severe weather warnings and there were several points that we thought we’d have to shut down. And somehow there wasn’t a drop of rain. It was a really cool moment for Texas music history, and for me personally it was a milestone. After a really difficult year, we had made it through, and it was worth it.”
You can make your own Levitation memories from April 29 to May 1 at Carson Creek Ranch with an inimitable combination of international visitors and local musicians, food and drink vendors, and retailers. The eclectic art, clothing and jewelry for sale are worth bringing some extra cash. You never know what strange festival accessory you might find.
Festival-goers can even camp on site through the weekend. The private camp features its own stage with music after and before the hours of the main public stages. Passes are limited, so campers can really enjoy the exclusive happenings, shaded areas, yoga and even food trailers.
Carson Creek Ranch is located near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The festival entrance is off Dalton Lane, which is a small road, so plan for extra time coming and going from the festival. Parking on site is $10 cash. More information can be found here.
In addition to the three-day festival, satellite kick-off shows will take place on Thursday, April 28 at Barracuda, Empire Garage and Mohawk. Austin bands The Golden Dawn Arkestra and Ringo Deathstarr will be headlining the Empire Garage. Find the full schedule on the festival’s website and check out their Facebook for event pages. Tickets to the Thursday shows are on sale now for $15 (plus taxes and fees).
@MadameKLM wants to know:
Will this be your first year at Levitation?