Interviews from Austin Psych Fest 2023

Interviews from Austin Psych Fest 2023

by Harry Portnof on April 19, 2024
Interviews from Austin Psych Fest 2023

Interviews from Austin Psych Fest 2023: Getting trippy with fellow children of today’s psychedelic era

Words by Elena Childers 
Photos by Devon Bristol Shaw

Last year, Levitation graced the Austin, Texas psychedelic rock scene with the resurrection of their beloved festival—Austin Psych Fest. The festival brings all walks of psych bands and musicians together for fans to open up their minds to. This time it was hosted at the Far Out Lounge and Stage and even a downpour of rain couldn’t stop the music. If you missed this trip, don’t worry because we can give you a small dose of the experience through conversations we had on the grounds with festival goers, musicians, and even employees. From longtime Austin Psych Fest goers to first-time musicians playing the festival, you can truly see how this three-day music event had people seeing the walls melt.

Miles Oshan (Working Merch) @_truesummit
EC: Are you from Austin?
MO: I was born in upstate New York, moved down to San Marcos and now I live in the Austin area.

EC: Awesome! How did you get hooked up with Austin Psych Fest?
MO: I started working with Levitation last year. A buddy of mine got a hook-up through a coworker and I really just ended up tagging along, thought I’d give it a shot. And I just fell right in—I love this place!

EC: Hell yeah. What have you been looking forward to the most this time around?
MO: Really, honestly, my favorite part of this job is making people’s day. The fact that we have so many exclusive prints and such a variety of stuff available now. Levitation had a lot of previous legacy posters coming through, but now we have a lot more fresh offerings. I really just like seeing people’s faces light up.

EC: Is there a band, in particular, you’re super stoked to catch?
MO: Well, last year Godspeed You! Black Emperor was literally a religious experience for me. But this year, I mean, Black Angels are always a solid act. The Raveonettes put on a great show as well. I had never heard of them before, but you get exposed here, that’s what it’s all about.

EC: So you work with levitation a bunch, if you had a “one rule of thumb” for attending APF, what would that be?
MO: Just get psyched! It comes around only once or twice a year and things get crazy. It’s a messy and wonderful experience and I think it’s really representative of life itself. You see people of all folds here, man—it’s great!

Stacy @staceybowman & Sandy @sandividin (festival-goers)
EC: So are you guys from Austin or did you come down just for the festival?

Stacey: I live here!
Sandy: I’m from Miami.

EC: Oh Miami! So is this your first experience with APF or any event Levitation-related then?
Sandy: It is! I love it. I love the vibe… It’s a gorgeous space and a really awesome group of people.

EC: Oh definitely. And, Stacey, as someone from Austin, what do you think the significance of something like this is to the community?
Stacey: I think it’s very different. A lot of the other music venues are not as open and airy and in such a beautiful place—it’s just really nice to be outside.

EC: So what are you guys looking forward to most at APF?
Sandy: So, I was invited here to do a different thing—I came for the blockchain conference and to visit my friend Stacey. But as soon as I saw that Wine Lips and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was playing I was like, “shit, I’m staying and, Stacey, you’re coming with me!”

EC: So as first-time APF attendees, what kind of advice do you have for future first-timers?
Sandy: Make sure you go to the bathroom before you get in the car.
Stacey: Stay hydrated!


Kyle Wright (APF Security) @iamshijn
EC: Are you from Austin?

KW: Yes! Born and raised.

EC: Oh my god, awesome! So is this your first Levitation event?
KW: This is actually the MOST fun I’ve had. This is the first festival I’ve ever done during the day… It’s good to interact with other people and just chit-chat and pass the time and it’s really good music. 

EC: Did you come into this job totally blind about Levitation then?
KW: Oh, well I go into everything totally blind. [Laughs] But I was expecting some commotion like the overnight ones, but I guess after a certain time, people do need to sleep. They’re the people that are here all day. But it’s been really nice and chill, I would do it again.

EC: So tell me, what has been your favorite experience at APF so far?
KW: I would say the later shows. It’s been really fun. Being up there at the barricade for it. As long as everyone is chill, it’s nice. I’ve had to deal with moshpit stuff and it’s completely different… At Yves Tumor, he accidentally tripped on my foot at the very end when he was giving all the people between the barricades a hug and we shared a little intimate moment... I had a blast, you could see the smile right across my face. I really like making sure everyone is having a good time.

EC: What advice would you give festival goers from the POV of security?
KW: I would say, go ahead of the crowd. You can get better seats if you slowly migrate to the other stage before the other one is over.

TJ Freda (GIFT) @hellotjtj or @gift_nyc
EC: Is this your first time at a Levitation event?

TJ: Yeah, first time! It’s been great. It’s crazy seeing the [psych music] community that’s been building here for so long. I think it’s at its peak, it just gets better and better every year.

EC: Do you think the pause on all events during covid affected the scene at all?
TJ: For sure, but I think it’s like a slingshot. It comes back stronger.

EC: Other than your own performance, was there anything else you were looking forward to at APF?
TJ: I’m super excited to see Melody’s Echo Chamber.

EC: Oh hell yeah, for sure! So tell me about GIFT’s show.
TJ: Our show was so awesome. We played at Mohawk, it was us, Blushing, The Warlocks, and A Place to Bury Strangers—an all-star lineup. It was great to meet the Warlock people. And A Place to Bury Strangers was crazy, like always, just fucking insane.

EC: Has there been any situation that caught you totally off guard but you loved it?
TJ: The rain was kind of crazy on Friday, that was a big curve ball. It was like Acid Mothers Temple starts and then they’re like, “okay, we’re stopping.” And then it just dumped water on everything. And then it was fine and then the rest of the night was so good.

EC: If you were talking to someone who has never been to APF, what would you tell them they have to do while attending?
TJ: See bands you don’t know! Because those are the ones that always sneak up on you. You know, you see the lineup and you’re like, “oh I know them and them and I’ve seen them.” But I think the bands that you’ve never heard of are the ones to see. Like, I had my mind blown by Automatic yesterday. I’d heard of them, but never really listened, but that’s by far the best set I’ve seen so far.

Keith Thomas @Keithbob_ (festival-goer)
EC: So I know you’re from Austin and this isn’t your first Psych Fest, tell me about your past experiences!

KT: Yeah, so the first one I went to was in 2012 when it was all at Emos, and that was the first time I had been to Austin. And really, when I came to Psych Fest, I had so much fun that I was like, “I’m gonna move here from Salt Lake City.”

EC: Oh wow! So Psych Fest is what inspired you to move to Austin?
KT: It really was! That was the reason I came to Austin for the first time and then I was like, “this place rules, I’m gonna move here.” So now I pretty much have come to every Psych Fest since.

EC: So you must have some wild stories from coming to these festivals.
KT: Ok, so when the Black Lips played in 2012 at Emo’s, every band member from every band that day—we’re talking Meat Puppets, Black Angels, OSEES—were on stage just watching the Black Lips. And as they were watching, they were pounding beers and then throwing their beer cans at the band. So then Cole [from The Black Lips] finished a whole 12-pack of Coors and then put the empty box on his head and was just playing guitar with a box on his head. It was one of the coolest shows, it was sick as hell. Seeing all the bands watching—they weren’t watching every show, but when the Black Lips came out it was like they were all like, “oh, we have to see this!” It was just like, “We’re partying out here! We’re having a good time!”

EC: So does Psych Fest still inspire you to this day like it did to get you to move here?
Yeah, it does. Just because it’s a really fun time. So many good bands come every year.

EC: So the question I’ve been asking is, what one-liner advice would you give someone coming to APF?
I’d say, my advice is to eat the paper…. That’s acid. [Laughs]


Joe Fahey @jbfahey (Dad to Sean Fahey from Acid Dad)
EC: So this is your first Levitation ever, what brought you here today?
To see my favorite band Acid Dad. I just like their music better than anyone else’s.

EC: Oh really?? [Laughs] Ok, full disclosure, you are the father to Sean from Acid Dad. You are an Acid Dad.
[Laughs] It’s true, I’m Sean’s father. But I also just love seeing Acid Dad, they truly are one of my favorite bands to see live. It’s always great.

EC: So do you go to other music festivals?
Here and there. I first saw Acid Dad at Treefort Festival about seven years ago.

EC: That sounds so fun! So what about this festival feels different to you?
Mainly, being in Austin. I went to SXSW twice and I just love Austin. Other than the fact that Acid Dad was here, I just really enjoy this kind of music and the atmosphere here. It just has a good vibe to it.

EC: Totally! So I’ve been asking everyone, what would be your rule of thumb for attending APF be?
Bring a raincoat, wear comfortable shoes, and stay hydrated. And it helps if you like the smell of burning cannabis from every direction.

Kallie Cokinos @dernkallie (festival goer)
EC: So this is your first time at a Levitation event, how do you feel about it?
I absolutely love it! I’m from Houston, TX, and we got here yesterday. I follow Levitation and just keep up with y’all, so I was like, “I’m gonna go and check out this event!”

EC: Was there a band, in particular, you came out here to see?
Oh boy, I mean, we just saw Vieux Farka Touré, that was rad. We’re about to see Los Bitchos. Melody’s Echo Chamber is tonight! It’s just been so rad. It’s been a blast. Just a good vibe here. I’ve never seen a festival like this, cool people too.

EC: Have you had any memorable moments yet?
KC: Well, we were running late today and I really love Vieux, so I was scared we were gonna miss him. But right when we rolled up he was playing my favorite song and it was magical. I cried a little bit… It was blissful.

EC: That’s beautiful! So I’ve been asking everyone, what would be your rule of thumb for attending APF?
KC: Bring your crew! Bring the people you feel close to and love to rock out with. You will find people, for sure, you’ll meet people—but it’s always good to have your home base.



Pooneh Ghana @poonehghana (Photographer)
EC: So is this your first time at a Levitation event?

PG: Oh, definitely not.

EC: So how does this one compare to the other Levitation events you’ve been to?
PG: It’s fun because they always find ways to reinvent themselves. I remember the very first one I went to, which I think was like 2007 or 2008, and it was on 6th St. But then from there, they went to Mohawk and then the Powerplant and then Carson Creek. So yeah, now it’s just evolved into something so much bigger. It’s always fun. And all the photographers on the team, we just love being here, we’ve been having a great weekend.

EC: Was there a band in particular that you were super stoked to see this time around?
PG: I mean, the lineup overall was just like oh my god! But I’m a big fan of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and I was in high school and stuff, so yeah, them.

EC: So I’ve been asking everyone, what would be your rule of thumb for attending APF be?
To go to APF you must stay hydrated and check your drugs.



Alex Geiser @alexgeeeee.official (Levitation and APF Co-Booker and Co-Producer)
EC: So as someone who works for Levitation, I’m assuming this isn’t your first rodeo.
AG: [Laughs] No, it’s not.

EC: So how does this one compare to the other Levitation events?
AG: Well, when I started working for Levitation in 2019, we were doing it in the multiple-venue format down on Red River. This is different because it’s all in one place and I like it better that way. It’s easier to see everything you want to see.

EC: What’s been a super memorable moment this year?
AG: Really, the most memorable things to me have been the venue staff. They’ve done an incredible job, especially during the rain. Everybody came together and really made shit happen when we didn’t know what would happen. So those have been the most memorable parts. Oh, but also, Mdou Moctar was really great. Again, because of the rain situation, them being the band that played after we had to evacuate everybody and let everybody back in, was pretty magical.

EC: So I’ve been asking everyone, “if you go to APF you have to blank” what would that blank be for you?
AG: You have to drink water and prepare for all different kinds of weather.


Rob Fitzpatrick (Levitation and APF Founder, Co-Producer) @levitation
EC: So the question I’ve been asking everyone is, if there is a rule of thumb for coming to APF, what would it be?
RF: You’ve gotta open up your mind and let it all come through. [Laughs] Oh god, how many people have said that?

EC: If you can believe it, none.
RF: Are you serious?? That’s the 13th Floor Elevators! Also covered very beautifully by the Spacemen 3. It’s hard to pick a favorite version, obviously the 13th Floor Elevators version is my favorite, but the Spacemen 3 one is fucking sick. They were the children of the psychedelic era, a UK band picking up an obscure track from a TX band from 20 years before. The Elevators, Spacemen 3 - and then The Black Angels who did the same thing, sort of in reverse, back to the UK combining the drone of the Spacemen and with sounds inspired by Elevators. Really fun to find those threads through music and then to get to see it happening right here in front of you. Like Daiistar who played yesterday - a band from Austin - picking up Stone Roses and Primal Scream sounds from 20 years ago, from across the Atlantic.
Anyways, I'd say the rule of thumb is to just really try to take it in as a moment in time, because each one of these festival lineups is a little time capsule, each time. Enjoy!


ORB - Tailem Bend (Levitation Edition) PRE-ORDER


Washed Out - Notes from a Quiet Life (Levitation Edition) PRE-ORDER


APF 'Vibrations' Trucker Hat


Austin Psych Fest Embroidered Hat


APF '24 'We Come In Peace' Embroidered Bucket Hat


APF '24 Embroidered Patch Surf Hat - Dark


APF '24 'We Come In Peace' Patch Hat


APF '24 Khaki Bandana