10 Acts That Make LEVITATION Well Worth The Trip

Formerly known as Austin Psych Fest and now called LEVITATION, the ninth edition of this annual festival, which takes place April 29 – May 1 at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, TX, attracts reverb-loving fans from around the world. Unlike bigger mainstream festivals, the folks behind LEVITATION have carved out a niche by bringing together bands that may not tour much as well as bands that would never be booked at festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Generally speaking, these are acts that, in some way, seem to have a psychedelic quality to their music. The festival was founded by Austin psych rockers The Black Angels, who wanted to create an event that would honor the city’s trippy musical legacy that produced acts like the 13th Floor Elevators and Shiva’s Headband. As LEVITATION has grown, the standard of psych rock has broadened with bigger headliners coming in and a more diverse array of acts, but at its core the festival has always stayed true to keeping things far out. In other words, LEVITATION is part of an increasingly rare group of festivals booked by people who not only love music, but seek to present bands on the margins just because they love them.


This year’s lineup is massive and undoubtedly one of the strongest festival lineups of 2016, period. There are big names like Brian Wilson (playing The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds in its entirety) and Animal Collective, as well as more obscure fare like the Allah-Las, Heron Oblivion, and Imarhan. To help you plan out your trip (get it?), Joey Willis and Neil Ferguson have picked out 10 acts not to be missed at this year’s LEVITATION.

Dungen (Friday, April 29 @ 9:15PM, Elevation Amphitheatre)

The name of this band translates as “The Grove” in Swedish, which is the language of all the lyrics from this Prog-psych rock band. Though lead singer Gustav Ejstes plays most of the instruments on the albums, Dungen tours as a four piece. They are currently touring on their newest album Allas Sak. Having been one of the pioneers of the modern psych-rock renaissance, their influence can be heard across many of the bands that have played Levitation over the years.  Essential album: Ta Det Lugnt

[youtube id=”NITESCBm1-E” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Lee “Scratch” Perry (Sunday, May 1 @ 7:35PM, Elevation Amphitheatre)

Perry is the pioneer of dub reggae. By combining effects and remixing, Perry created new mixes of existing reggae songs. Founding his own band in the late 60’s, The Upsetters, named after his record label, he also continued to work with other acts like Bob Marley and The Wailers, the Congos and many others. Essential album: Super Ape

[youtube id=”HKKPvhVdp5w” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Courtney Barnett (Saturday, April 30 @ 6:05PM, Reverberation Stage)

After a successful SXSW in 2015, Melbourne native Courtney Barnett has been touring incessantly in support of her debut LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I just Sit. With her witty lyrics, grungy guitar licks, and stage energy, her shows are not to be missed. Most recently she contributed her version of “New Speedway Boogie” for The National’s curated Grateful Dead tribute album. Essential album: Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit

[youtube id=”XdaAQlmExmI” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Black Mountain (Saturday, April 30 @ 10:45PM, Elevation Amphitheatre)

The Vancouver-based band have been putting out albums for the past decade and are currently touring in support of their newest album IV. Frequently employing nostalgic sounds of the 60’s and 70’s, their newest output comes across as a mix of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Given Black Mountain’s range across their discography, their set is bound to impress. Essential album: Black Mountain

[youtube id=”MjJ3KZRHEOg” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Slowdive (Friday, April 29 @ 11:25PM, Reverberation Stage)

Reuniting after a twenty year hiatus, the English pioneers of shoegaze are back on the road and playing songs from their late 80’s-early 90’s discography. After the band went their separate ways in 1995, lifelong friends and founding members Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell formed the band Mojave 3. Now all the original members are back and ready to play their brand of ambient dream pop for a nostalgic audience. Essential album: Souvlaki

[youtube id=”O5iK_mqtJ04″ width=”630″ height=”350″]

Ween (Sunday, May 1 @ 9:15PM, Reverberation Stage)

After a 28 year career, Ween disbanded in 2012 after releasing an extremely diverse and wonderfully oddball catalogue of music. Though never having much commercial success, Ween cultivated a major cult following later in their career. Originally only announcing a three show reunion in Colorado, the overwhelming ticket sales led Dean and Gene Ween to the formation of a full fledged reunion tour. Catching their set is a must as there is no guarantee that there will be any more shows following this tour. Essential album: Chocolate and Cheese

[youtube id=”b5nU2iSno1Y” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Israel Nash (Saturday, April 30 @ 3:05PM, Reverberation Stage)

This long-haired troubadour is the kind of solemn character you can picture wandering through the Texas Hill Country on some mystic peyote trip. In fact, Israel Nash calls the Hill Country home (Dripping Springs to be exact), and it is there that the singer-songwriter and his band have cultivated a style of music that they describe as “desert folklore”. On albums like Rain Plans and most recent Silver Season, Nash backs his philosophical lyrics with a cacophony of twangy sounds that fall somewhere between Neil Young, Pink Floyd and an Ennio Morricone score. Essential album: Rain Plans

[youtube id=”VN2Io9CfyW0″ width=”630″ height=”350″]

Woods (Saturday, April 30 @ 9:00PM, Elevation Amphitheatre)

Brooklyn-based Woods have never had any trouble tapping into a kaleidoscopic array of psychedelic sounds. Most recently, this can be heard on the band’s ninth album City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, which finds them exploring the groovy terrain of Ethiopian jazz and Afrobeat placed in the context of sun-washed, poppier songs. The album is loaded with flourishes of horns, and it will be interesting to see how much of that they bring to the stage at Levitation. Regardless, Woods’ return to Levitation will be ideal for spacing out to on Saturday night. Essential album: City Sun Eater In The River Of Light

[youtube id=”_ssAite4HNQ” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Sleep (Saturday, April 30 @ 11:45PM, Levitation Tent)

It’s safe to say that the multitude of acts playing stoner doom metal today would not exist without Sleep. With badass motherfucker Matt Pike at the helm, the group has spent two decades shredding their way through sprawling songs that are as heavy as it gets. Whereas Pike’s other band High On Fire is fast, brutal, and closer to Black Sabbath, Sleep is sludgy and slow-burning like a fat joint. They are unquestionably one of the heaviest bands playing Levitation this year, and since their live appearances are somewhat of a rarity, you’ll want to smoke some dope and saddle up for the dark, glorious journey that is Sleep. Essential album: Dopesmoker

[youtube id=”w5qmjNe7RVE” width=”630″ height=”350″]

Promised Land Sound (Sunday, May 1 @ 2:00PM, Reverberation Stage)

On their 2012 debut Stoned Eagle and 2013 self-titled follow-up, this gang of Nashville youngsters embraced what Gram Parsons once referred to as Cosmic American Music. Despite their age, the members of Promised Land Sound seemed to posses a natural talent for applying a laid back stoner aesthetic to country rock, a feat that may seem easy enough but has produced tons of cliché joke bands. Their latest effort For Use And Delight takes the country rock sound in an impressive new direction as the band drifts towards indie rock and a catchier pop sound. That authentic 70’s feel is still there, but these guys are not afraid to try out new things, and the result is beautiful. Promised Land Sound may not fit the “psych rock” mold per se, but they are absolutely worth catching. Essential listening: Promised Land Sound

[youtube id=”QIwa7gxaMvI” width=”630″ height=”350″]

LEVITATION takes place April 29 – May 1 at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, Texas

For tickets and more info visit levitation-austin.com

Stay tuned to Glide for more coverage of this LEVITATION 2016! 

Related Content

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide