Night Beats / all photos by Steven Ruud
Day two of Levitation was, in one word, insane. It was a beautiful, dry, and breezy day, which meant less mud, less people, and a day stacked full of amazing bands. I started off the day watching Seattle-based three-piece Night Beats play on the main Reverberation Stage. Night Beats' sound borders on psych-soul rock, mirroring a lot of the same techniques sonically as The Growlers. Lead singer Lee Blackwell wore the same floppy black hat as me, and it was awesome to see a great band get the reception that they deserve at a festival that was essentially made for them.
The Black Ryder
One of the highlights of the entire day yesterday had to be The Black Ryder’s performance. Holy shit. I had been waiting to see this band for years, and everything finally came together as I stood in the very front of the Levitation tent, staring at Aimee Nash’s all black outfit, and Elvira-styled jet black hair do. Scott Von Ryper looked dapper as hell as well in a blazer and kind of looked like Nick Cave. After suffering through some sound issues during their opening song, the band dove head first into “Santaria;'" with its slow crashing drums and spiraling guitar buildup, it's the most The Jesus and Mary Chain-ish song off of their most recent record The Door Behind The Door. The Levitation tent is the only covered stage of the entire festival, and it makes for amazing sound, as well as a really sweaty space. The best song of the set had to be “Grass,” the most psych fest-y song off of their 2009 album Buy The Ticket, Take That Ride.
During this time of the night, I went into the type of panic mode that always happens at festivals: there was just TOO MUCH to see at one time. Three bands that I wanted to see were all playing at the exact same time: The Black Ryder, Thee Oh Sees, and Mystic Braves. The Oh Sees started their set twenty-five minutes early (who does that?) so I ended up running over to catch them on the main stage. Since John Dwyer announced the garage-rock staple’s hiatus in 2013, moved to LA, and picked up an entirely new band, their live shows have noticeably changed, but their set last night proved that they were still the same band that ripped smaller San Francisco venues years ago. From afar, I could see the steamy pit that was forming in the middle of the crowd, various liquids thrown in the air, and toilet paper streaming all over the place. Apparently they played for a full 70 minutes, which is unheard of at a large festival like this for a non-headliner.
Thee Oh Sees
When I looked up and saw a shirtless, barefoot bro standing in the middle of a mud pit staring at the ground completely alone and definitely on drugs, I realized my texts weren’t going through, and the idea I could potentially be stranded alone for the rest of the night finally sunk in. I had to get out of there, and found my friends a couple minutes later during Mystic Braves’ set in front of the river. This band was hands down the danciest band of the entire day, which came completely out of left field. I was stoked to see so many people willing to miss the other bigger bands playing at that time to chill with the five-piece and jam out on a smaller stage. It should be noted that during this set I stood behind a fifty-year old woman who was completely alone, wearing a see-through shirt who would throw her head back, stare at the sky with intense, angry eyes and scream “FUCKING SEXY!!!” in between every single song.
Mystic Braves had to be the vibiest dudes at the entire festival, too. They all have very admirable sideburns, wear vintage 70s high-water boot-cut denim, and dress like straight up mods. One of the dudes was even sporting one of those Austin Powers neck scarves that I have officially decided are hot on men. Take note, guys: lady scarves are back! Maybe. Only if you have sideburns. Each of their flower-pop jams flowed one after the other before they played “Cloud Nine,” a chill track that has a killer up-tempo bridge with a guitar solo that will make you want to bang your head until it hurts.
Primal Scream was a shit show on the main stage, with a crowd filled with hippies (makes sense). People were clearly waiting all day to see them, and I am pretty sure that the invention of hula-hoops and parachute pants were invented after Primal Scream fans heard the track “Loaded” for the first time. Their set was one giant happy place, filled with jam-rock dads (#dadbods were back, baby!) and more vibe dancers with accessories like this:
Photo by the author As the end of the night neared, it was finally time for the entire reason why I came to this festival in the first place: to see The Jesus and Mary Chain perform Psychocandy in full. The band came out and announced that they would be “playing a few songs before a big screen came down and they would begin playing Psychocandy.” Thanks for the assertive announcement, guys! The band immediately dove into “April Skies,” and I lost my shit. The Jesus and Mary Chain were, and still are, a timeless band who happen to have made one of the most influential albums of all time. I can honestly say that the Reid brothers have coined a sound so timeless, that listening live proved better than recorded. “April Skies” quickly ended and the band tackled “Head On,” which is definitely the best song to scream the chorus to in a wide open space. It wasn’t long before the promised screen behind the band was lit up with the album art of Psychocandy, smoke filled the stage, and the opening drums of “Just Like Honey” boomed across the entire festival. There are certain moments that make you feel like everything is right and perfect in the world in that very moment in time, and it may sound cliché, but this is exactly what happened when I was swaying to “Just Like Honey” in a giant crowd. It was straight up magic. The band continued to play every track off of Psychocandy; every song blended into one another and the band didn’t even stop to take a breath. What I witnessed on stage last night was truly special.
The Jesus And Mary Chain
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s set ended around 1:30AM, and I was able to catch the very end of Tamaryn’s set to see her brand new band and killer outfit. I was bummed to have missed a majority of the set, but I guess that’s what living in Brooklyn is for, AMIRIGHT, DIIV?! I ended up leaving the festival at around 3AM with heavy feet, sweat-drenched bangs, and eight of my dude friends trying to pack into two Uber cars. The rest of my night looked a lot like this:
Someone give me tips on how to sleep when 8 dudes are blasting metal at 4am outside your door SOS
— kaylamomo (@kaylamomo) May 10, 2015
All photos by Steven Ruud.
Creepoid Creepoid Earth
Earth Ex Cult Ex Cult Ex Cult Health Health LA Witch LA Witch Mystic Braves Primal Scream Primal Scream The Jesus And Mary Chain Thee Oh Sees Thee Oh Sees This Will Destroy You Vaadat Charigim