Austin Psych Fest 2012: Day 2: Black Lips, Prince Rama and more

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Psych Fest Day 2 began mellow, but ended in madness. Kicking things off in the Beauty Ballroom at the early hour of 3pm, The Stepkids played a relaxed set for a loose crowd of roughly fifty people, the band’s jazzy, almost funky jams laying into the languid afternoon, perfectly paired.

“You guys are really attentive,” guitarist Jeff Gitelman noted with a thank you and a laugh in-between his sun-fueled, slowed-down solos. Chatting with the sound guys about time left in their set and making offhand comments to the audience, The Stepkids swooped past shoe-staring and made the space feel like a lounge for a little while, inviting everyone in with a grin.

While psychedelic lounge lizards overtook the Ballroom, the west was won in Emo’s when Spindrift took the stage. Silhouetted against warped and stuttering images of a showdown, singer/guitarist and band founder Kirpatrick Thomas called up the ghosts of deserts past with his deep and demonic singing, shot through with bassist Henry Evans’ abrasive and adrenaline-pumping war cries. Sasha Vallely danced around the stage like a native or Jim Morrison, foot-hopping in wide circles as she swung the tambourine in the air. The large space of Emo’s expanded exponentially into the horizon as film and sound perfectly merged into a moody mirage.

Following Spindrift, Entrance Band’s wicked visuals moved the mind from open horizons of an imagined past to the mysteries women keep in their hair…and down there. From a close-up image of a naked and heaving breast, lying on train tracks as an engine approached, to slow-motion shots of a woman’s hair blowing in the wind, to a vintage strip of two ladies getting down to it, Entrance Band’s projections were far and away the sexiest of the fest. In front of it all, bassist Paz Lenchantin’s long hair swung almost across her strings as she hunched androgynously against her instrument, while guitarist Guy Blakeslee jumped up onto his amp, turning his back to the crowd and casting long shadows over the lusty scenes behind him. One of the only bands to play cover songs, Entrance Band tapped out impressive versions of Love’s “A House Is Not A Motel” and The Troggs’ “I Want You” during a particularly long set, turning the classic track into an almost unrecognizable echo, covered in mutated fuzz.

The second day of the fest didn’t skimp on variety, breaking the monotony of the previous day with never-ending jam band MMOSS, whose songs folded in a mix of odd instruments and whirled forward with no end in sight, and Woods’ punch-drunk, upbeat, country-loving fuzz, supported by the pacifier-style oddity of G. Lucas Crane’s tape effects machine.

Boston’s former art school rockers Quilt, led by Shane Butler on guitar/vocals and Anna Fox Rochinski on keyboards/vocals, introduced a song about Andy Warhol with Butler advising the crowd, “Don’t commodify yourself too much.” Humble and shuffling, Quilt’s melodic, swaying songs followed Butler’s feet as he waltzed with himself across the stage, light as a feather falling into whipped cream.

Back at Emo’s, the Black Lips turned that sweet cream into a torrent of toilet paper streaming into the crowd like it was a middle school Mischief Night. Erupting with playful partying (positive punks), the Black Lips’ set drove the motionless into a wild and smiling moshpit that began as a small circle but grew into nearly the whole space during “Bad Kids.” Ian St. Pe passed beers into the crowd to share, saying, “We’re all the same. We just have really cool jobs,” and instructing member to take a sip and pass it along. The stage filled up with people, some from other Psych Fest acts, who sprayed silly string and tossed tinsel, dancing, swooning, and making out onstage. Not as insane as their infamous shows of yore, the Black Lips still added a much-needed dose of carefree energy to Psych Fest, drenching Emo’s in sweat, beer, and blood.

War cries and enlivened sets break the stoner jam monotony.