Thoughts and Photos of Automatic, Protomartyr, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Os Mutantes and Imarhan at Levitation 2022
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.
Upon arrival for the first act I had on my list the venue was considerably full of attendees. Even though I missed The Paranoyds set, I met them afterward and every photographer and friend was raving about them, so I also gave them a stream, and hopefully, that counts for something.
Automatic was my first set to document; the young Los Angeles all-female post-punk trio presented a very minimal, yet compelling execution of gloomy notes in an innovative way. The absence of guitars was not missed.
Next up was my most anticipated band of the night, Protomartyr. The Detroit band shared their unsettling lyrics of woes and grim human existence and they were nothing short of fascinating, the opposite of an artist trying too hard. At some point early in the performance, Joe Casey addressed the crowd saying maybe they didn’t know “who those assholes are”, but in reality, most of the attendees I spoke with that night and myself were looking forward to seeing Protomartyr the most. The joke’s on you!
My final set at Stubb’s was The Jesus and Mary Chain. I was filled with expectations, as this was my first time seeing the Scottish band. I remember gushing over their 2018 tour with NIN which I couldn’t attend. The set was a perfect balance between appealing hooks and their trademark sound with waves of distortion. On the other hand, the photographers were packed on either side of the stage and we did the best we could to capture a bit of it, but after all, it’s never about what’s captured, but what’s actually enjoyed.
For the last section of the evening, I witnessed the influential Brazilian rock band Os Mutantes which was linked with the Tropicália movement, a dissident musical movement during the Brazilian dictatorship of the late 1960s. Os Mutantes filled the stage with their most recent collaborators as Sergio Dias gently lead with his guitar while sitting on stage visibly pleased. The progressive songs were, of course, sung in Portuguese, but I’d hope some of the crowd could understand the significance and beauty of these lyrics beyond the performance.
Finally, my last show on night 1 was Imarhan (meaning “the ones I care about”). The Algerian desert rock quintet filled the room with subtle atmospherics that was both very clean and layered, demonstrating masterful musicianship that combined traditional elements with western, funky stylings.