By Taylor Brandegee
Austin Psych Fest was a dust-ridden weekend replete with psychedelic music from all over the world, delicious food trucks, and friendly vibes.
Imagine a perfect, sunny Austin afternoon. You then stumble upon a stage, at the bottom of a hill that kissed the bank of the Colorado River. This is where Bostonians Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, John Andrews, and Keven Lareau awaited us. The group is known collectively as Quilt, and their second full length album, Held In Splendor, was just released this January.
The delivery of their 21st century folk sound was nothing short of pure delight. The talent of Anna Fox and Shane Butler shone through; their kaleidoscopic guitars and chant-like harmonies were clear and controlled. You could almost see the perfect notes curling like smoke from out of the speakers.
The words “All my heavy dreams are simply a luxury” from their single “Arctic Shark” is a lyrical manifestation of their set at APF ‘14; Anna Fox’s classically trained voice made it hard not to fall in love with her. Butler’s happy two step dance complimented his guitar playing style: high up, giving him an iconic appearance that coincided with the rest of the band’s finesse.
If you followed the sound of 60s spy movie tunes to a tent that contained a guy crowd surfing on a piano and a guitarist with a shirt that states “I’m On Drugs”: you found La Femme.
The French psych-pop band consists of two main members Sacha Got and Marlon Magnee, who met in Biarritz, France. The other members of the band are transient, depending on the recorded album and their tour. For this particular show, there seemed to be 7 members total.
The high energy and hypnotic melodies of their newly released album, Psycho Tropical Berlin, perfectly intertwines psychedelia, surf rock, and dance music. Vocalist, Clémence Quélennec, was stunning and clear with songs like “Sur La Planche”. The movement of the crowd and the band was inevitable, Sacha breaking out his famous dance moves and Marlon complimenting it all wearing a sombrero and the t-shirt I mentioned above.
Before their performance on Friday, when asking Sacha and Marlon their favorite part of La Femme’s North American tour, they readily replied with “Austin, Texas!” Then they enthusiastically added that their favorite part of Austin was Austin Psych Fest. (duh) When asking what they were going to do that day, Marlon replied, “Psych Fest! Today we take some drugs, you know…” And that is that.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“Overcast in the good of the night, it’s alright” abruptly cooled through the speakers and quieted the crowd. Ruban Nielson is a poet; standing center stage, head shaven, he had the nicest 5 o’ clock shadow I’ve ever seen. Divinely complemented by his bandmates Jake Portrait (bass) and Riley Geare (drums), the band Unknown Mortal Orchestra painted the most beautiful psychedelic performance — the best of APF 2k14.
UMO opened with “Opposite of Afternoon”, a song from their second album, II. Nielsen recorded both of their full albums himself in his basement, creating a guitar from scratch just to record the recently mentioned song in particular. An enjoyable trait of their set was the fact that they kept their set list pretty real. They played a range of songs from both albums, most songs from their first, self-titled album. The crowd went wild when the contagious hook of “Ffunny Ffrends” flowed out of Nielson’s guitar and into the dusty air, his energy in tune with the live liquid light show of pinks and blues and yellows in the background.
It seemed as if everyone at the festival was there… except for Nielson. With his eyes closed during the majority of the set, Nielson twisted and turned, dove and jumped during solos. I have never seen such a true performer in my life. It looked as if he was seizing out with the psychedelic breakdowns, the guitar being an extension of the pure talented chaos from his mind to the speakers. What a beautiful moment it is, when you see a band you love with high hopes and they totally exceed your expectations.