High On Fire, Civic, and More: Highlights from Levitation Festival 2023 Select Levitation Acts On October 27, 2023
AUSTIN, TX- Levitation is an independent festival and is held in the Red River Cultural District in downtown Austin. TX, in the city’s best venues including Stubb’s, The Mohawk, Empire, Hotel Vegas, Parish, Antone’s, and more featuring a variety of musical acts that have roots in psychedelic/experimental rock. Our contributor roamed the streets of Austin to find the acts that spoke to her.
As the second day of Levitation unfolded, attendees found themselves immersed in a musical journey that transcended genres and defied expectations. The eclectic lineup promised an array of sonic experiences, and Friday’s performances, featuring High On Fire, Blonde Redhead, Civic, Warmduscher, and Ariel & The Culture, delivered on that promise with a captivating blend of energy, diversity, and artistic prowess.
Day Two reached new heights on day two at Stubb’s with a headlining act that left metal enthusiasts in awe. Kicking off the evening with an explosive display of sonic prowess, High On Fire, the stoner trio led by the legendary Matt Pike, delivered an onslaught that reverberated through the festival grounds. The raw power of their performance set the tone for the night, leaving fans hungry for more.
Pike’s signature guitar work, characterized by blistering solos and thunderous chords, showcased why he is revered as one of the metal scene’s most influential figures.
Jeff Matz’s overdriven and distorted bass sounds, a result of running the bass through both a guitar amp and a bass amp, created a wall of sound that added depth to High On Fire’s landscape. Matz’s commanding presence on stage, coupled with his intricate bass lines, added an element of effortless virtuosity to the trio’s presentation.
Coady Willis, known for his work with Big Business and the Melvins, manned the drum kit with precision and power. His meticulous style provided the backbone for High On Fire’s relentless assault. The band’s chemistry was evident, creating a powerful energy exchange between the stage and the audience. Willis’ drumming, coupled with Matz’s thunderous bass and Pike’s searing guitar work, formed an unstoppable force that captivated the crowd from start to finish.
The first-generation Mexican-American artist Ariel & The Culture brought a vibrant and danceable concoction to the festival. The Afrofuturistic collective blended genres seamlessly, infusing their set with infectious grooves and soulful vocals. The initially shy crowd began to move forward as the lead singer exclaimed, “Don’t be scared of Mexicans.” The dynamic sounds of Ariel & The Culture, brought to life by Dallas-based artist Jason Bobadilla, stand out as a corroboration of the power of fusion when diverse elements coexist harmoniously.
Drawing inspiration from the melodious vibes of ‘90s R&B and the rhythmic beats of música tropical that once filled his childhood home, Ariel has successfully carved a niche for himself in the music world. His recent performance at Levitation not only showcased his undeniable talent but also highlighted the delicate balance he maintains between the nostalgic and the modern in his musical creations, while navigating and embracing dual identities, as music has the power to connect us all.
Civic, the Australian powerhouse, took center stage at Hotel Vegas during Levitation, delivering an unforgettable performance that left audiences buzzing with excitement. Earlier in the year, Civic had already earned acclaim for their shows at SXSW, setting the stage for a night of explosive energy and captivating melodies at Hotel Vegas’ patio.
In a musical landscape characterized by an array of genres and influences, Civic stands out as a beacon of authenticity. Their sonic palette is a deliberate nod to the foundational elements of punk, with a sound that pays homage to the genre’s roots while embracing the spontaneity and urgency of the present era.
The thrilling and antsy anticipation builds from the moment they take the stage. The songs, carefully crafted and infused with relentless energy, manage to captivate the audience’s attention long before the charismatic presence of Jim McCullough is felt, and when it does, you want to get into a fight!
Comprising Jim McCullough (vocals), Lewis Hodgson (guitar), Roland Hlavka (bass), Jackson Harry (guitar), and Matt Blach (drums), Civic has garnered a reputation as a must-watch band. Their performance at Levitation not only showcased their musical prowess but also solidified their status as one of the most exhilarating bands to emerge in recent years, with the ability to not only meet but exceed the high expectations set by their earlier acclaim.
The experimental rock group Warmduscher took the Levitation stage by storm, delivering a charismatic performance that defied easy categorization. Their sonic chaos, combined with an electrifying stage presence, captivated nearly everyone in attendance.
The name “Warmduscher” itself is intriguing, as it is a German term that translates to “warm showerer.” This colloquial term is used to describe someone perceived as soft or not tough enough for a specific task. Despite this, the band proved that their name is purely ironic, showcasing a level of intensity and charisma that is anything but soft. Hailing from London, the group’s humble beginnings can be traced back to a party, and their journey has been a testament to their commitment to delivering high-energy performances.
Frontman Clams Baker Junior, a Cape Cod-to-London transplant with a stint in NYC, led the charge for Warmduscher, seamlessly blending into the roaring audience. His stage presence was aggressive and confrontational, yet friendly enough for everyone to gather almost atop the singer.
The vibrant explosion on stage showcased the band’s unique blend of punk-funk dance grooves, witty lyrics, and edgy charm that had the crowd moving from start to finish.
New York’s Blonde Redhead, a veteran trio comprising identical Italian twins Amedeo and Simone Pace and Japanese frontwoman Kazu Makino, played to a sold-out crowd at Mohawk where you couldn’t fit a needle.
The ethereal sounds of Blonde Redhead transported the audience to another realm. The band showcased their mastery of dreamy, atmospheric compositions, weaving together intricate melodies and hypnotic rhythms with the thunderous, inventive, shifting nature of the guitars, circling in and out of each other’s vocals and rhythms with ease.
Formed in 1993, Blonde Redhead has been a staple of the alternative rock scene for decades, delighting fans and critics alike with their otherworldly melodies and creative compositions. This Friday night proved why their longevity and the enduring appeal of their unique sonic palette make the band as compelling as ever.
Levitation Day Two proved to be a triumph of musical diversity. From the thunderous metal of High On Fire to the dreamy indie sounds of Blonde Redhead, the punk energy of Civic, the experimental chaos of Warmduscher, and the groovy vibes of Ariel & The Culture, the night showcased a sonic adventure that lingered within the attendees until it was time for day three.