Down To the Noise And Confusion – Austin Psych Fest 2014 Recap Part 3

photo by Nick Demetros

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. And with this, I give you the concluding chapter of my Austin Psych Fest 2014 experience.

Day 3

The floor’s an ocean and this wave is breaking,

your head is gone and your body’s shaking

there is nothing you can do cause there is no solution

you gotta get down to the noise and confusion

– “Sons of the Stage”, The World of Twist

Precursor: before the trip even began, I had planned on getting completely shitfaced for at least one day this weekend. As with any festival, there’s bands I can see, but then there’s bands I HAVE to see. With the latter, it’s usually best if I can keep myself leveled so that I actually remember them and don’t become too intoxicated. Since the majority of those bands were before Sunday, there seemed to be only one logical thing left for me to do on our Austin excursion: to get as fucking loaded as possible and enjoy the rest of the experience in an intoxicated haze. I know that doesn’t sound fun to some of you. I imagine it probably seems downright juvenile to the rest. And to those people, I say, lighten up and have a fucking drink, man. It’s only my story. Yeesh.

But I’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s start with what I actually remember.

We met up with Leah again. Since everyone else had to work for the day, we had shed our gathered posse and it was just the three of us again. Instead of hoping on the shuttle, Leah once again generously offered to give us a ride directly to the festival, which we gladly took (and in hindsight, thank Christ we did!).

photo 2-3Once we got there, first thing was first: beer. The door guy who gave out 21+ wristbands was also giving out free cards for one free Dos Equis. So that was the first beer of the day: a nice cold plastic cup filled with Dos Equis Lager. We drank them hastily to avoid them warming in the sun around 1:30 PM. From that point on, it was on to another round and to kill some time at the Levitation tent where some cool noise was coming from. The band? Think No Think. Normally, I’d tell a band with a name like that to Fuck Right Off, but they had some tunes. According to Leah, they were local. According to me, they were borderline apocalyptic! It brought back memories of me seeing Aaron North with NIN in 2005; they were flailing their guitars around, stabbing them into amplifiers, and generally doing everything they could to make the fucking things scream. It wasn’t just a gimmick either; the band sounded like even if they had two fucks in each pocket, they wouldn’t afford you even one.

After they wrapped up, we elected to camp out underneath the tent on a blanket right near the breeze. From there, it was prime real estate to people watch, shoot the shit, and of course, drink a couple more rounds. It was also during this time that I made a trip to the bar and ran into the man himself, Mr. Joel Gion. I didn’t want to bother him too much or come across as one of those obnoxious superfans that  I’m sure the band gets stalked by. Instead, I settled on a passing “hey man, I just wanna say you’re fucking rad,” followed by a handshake, him saying “right on. Thanks, brother” and then me telling him to keep it real (not that he needed my advice on that). Expectedly, I ordered the next beer as a celebratory drink.

Before long, we had another band to check out: Christian Bland & the Revelators. Fronted by the guitarist of the Black Angels, the only song I had ever heard by them was not even theirs – it was their cover of Spacemen 3’s “Losing Touch With My Mind.” Since J. Spacemen himself wasn’t there this weekend to elevate my high, it would be the closest I could get to mimicking that (short of heroin of course, but I won’t touch that shit as it’s killed off or dulled too many of my idols). All in all, their set was alright. Not bad, but not memorable enough for me to really give a solid strong opinion on the band. They were kind of just “there” for me. So much so that I think I switched to whiskey right around here.

photo 2-4Now, while I think BJM and Joel are the shit, my enthusiasm for both didn’t initially translate over towards Joel’s own band, Joel Gion & the Primary Colours. I had heard some of their stuff online but it just didn’t do anything for me. However, since there was nothing else I wanted to see at the time, why not? It marks yet another instance when a band had surprised the shit out of me this weekend. Seeing Joel with a guitar is something that I’ll never get used to, but the band tore through a great set that helped get the crowd moving and the beer flowing. They closed with a spectacular Lou Reed cover who’s name escapes me right now. Either way, Joel can hold his own.

photo 4-2Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I passed by the Feast of the Brave food truck again and decided to test my bravery. Hell, I had come all the way to Texas to try something new, so why not shit my pants in dive in (figuratively of course, not literally).  I’ve had goat’s brain before and wasn’t a fan, and I would rather resort to cannibalism than ever eat rat, let alone something called “rat stew.” However, I never had iguana before so I figured, why the fuck not? Like Richard from Alex Garland’s book the Beach once said, “never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. and if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” Besides, since I was on the lash and now drinking straight whiskey, I felt a rush of drunk courage. So I ordered a bit and gave it an earnest try. Long story short, it tastes EXACTLY like chicken.

photo 2-6Okay, I lied when I said there wasn’t anyone I was dying to see in this whole day. I forgot that Mikal Cronin was set to play as well. Though I had seen Ty Segall numerous times, I had never managed to catch Mikal on his own. Also, according to Leah, he likes his name to be pronounced “Michael” and not “Me-kill” as I thought. When I did though, I was blown away. Yes, the whiskey had reached my blood stream and I was probably a couple of times over the limit, but I swear it wasn’t just that: he’s just really good at jamming shit out. Leah said he would close with “Gone,” and sure enough, that head shaking riff began to play once she said that.

Next up was Sleepy Sun at the amphitheater. I don’t remember much of their set, but I do remember that it wasn’t that they were bad – it’s just that I liked Mikal more. But nonetheless, I was in the thick of it and didn’t leave until I needed a refill. Unfortunately the closest bar to the stage was out of whiskey. So I switched to vodka. Now, mixing beer, weed, whiskey, and vodka is what most people would call a “recipe for a disaster.” I never got that phrase. Probably because most of the disasters I’ve cooked up have never come with a recipe; I’m usually just throwing ingredients into the pot, overcooking the motherfucker and being forced to scarf it down with a couple of beers and call it dinner. When you think about it, this situation is not that dissimilar.

Somewhere in between here and there, I ran into an old-comment-nemesis-turned-recent-friend from Nashville Mac J. Sorry if I don’t remember most of our conversation, man, but I do remember saying that one of the best sets I saw was the Animals, when I really meant the Zombies. Like I said, I was plastered. Cheers.

photo 4-3The next hour gets even cloudier, but I do remember about 65% of Pink Mountaintops‘s set. I had gotten into them after their reps sent me their album and asked me to review it for this site. I forgot to, so I’ll do a makeshift one right here to get two birds stoned at once: if you get the chance, pick up their latest LP, Give Back. You know it’s killer when there’s a song on there about (and stay with me) bear cum and I’ll still say buy that shit ASAP. They closed out the Elevation Ampitheater and though they got the same visual treatment as the other bands who played the stage, it wasn’t need. They were mind blowing enough. I do have to apologize to the band though. When I was drunk as skunk, stoned to the bone, etc. etc., I accidentally shouted out “Yeah, Sean! You fucking rule!” to Stephen McBean. Sorry Stephen – apparently I became dyslexic and mixed up your first and last name into “Sean;” to be fair, at that point, if you told me that my own name was Jacques, I probably would have believed you because I was at that level of shitty. My bad, but keep rockin’ in the free world!

So let’s see where I am now…..I started drinking at around 1 PM. At $6 a beer and $7 an actual drink, I was bleeding cash like a hemophiliac in a rose bush. So by the time the sun did actually go down, I’m fairly sure I was walking like a man who just got struck by lightning. Or maybe that was just the vodka. It does taste like drinking pure lightning sometimes, doesn’t it?

photo 3-5Don’t ask me about Loop. I remember the visuals, but I don’t remember a damn thing about the music. Which is a shame, because from my limited understanding of the band, they are supposed to rule. But no use crying over spilt milk (or whiskey in this case).

Everything’s not such a black hole though. I do remember when I realized that it was probably time to go. These events (like everything else I’ve written in this particular entry) might not be entirely accurate, but I’ll try to paint a good picture, because Lord knows a pretty one isn’t in the cards. Here was my train of thought (I think):

Some set just finished but I have no idea where Nick and Leah have gone and my phone is dead. Did I separate from them on accident? It’s happened before. Maybe I went to a bar to get a drink and forgot to tell them. That’s probably it. No matter. If worst comes to worst, I can hop on the shuttle, get to the hotel, and give them a call when my phone charges. Everything will work out. I hope. I think.

But where the fuck am I? I’ve been walking these grounds for three days now and I feel like I’ve been dropped in a new territory on whim.

Okay, I can see the Committee to Keep Music Evil merch tent and realize that I’m near the main entrance. From there, it’s a five minute walk to the shuttle buses.

Okay, c’mon now. You can do this, you motherfucker. You’ve gotten yourself out of much worse situations. Remember that time you accidentally ate shrooms, got home and had to tell your strict Catholic parents that you were too fucked up to go to church?!? This has to be much more manageable than that! You don’t need to do anything except walk to the fucking bus, pull out a $5 bill and get on the fucker. Then shut your mouth, sit down, and don’t make eye contract with anyone or anything. That sounds fucking easy. You can fucking do this! C’MON!

I’m looking down at my dirt-stained Red Converses.

Move, you thick motherfuck! Move! Like this!

Right foot…

Left foot…

Right foot…

Lift foot…

Fuck me. It’s like teaching a one year old to walk. I know I’m probably drooling like one right now, but C’MON!

Right foot…

Left foot…

Right foot..

lef..nope, right foot again.

Okay, okay, that’s a minor setback, but steady the course and I’m gonna make it! By Christ, I’m going to make it back in one piece. I just gotta keep moving. I just gotta keep moving. I just gotta keep moving. I just gotta ke….shit.

OH SHIT!!!!

One minute I’m looking down at my left foot, and it starts twirling around and almost swapping places with my right one. The right does vice versa and I come to a horrifying realization..

SHIT! 

THE SPINS!!!

Like some drunk college freshman kid, the gods of drunk had bestowed upon me the unholiest of gifts: the spins. Somehow, I managed to avoid getting these fuckers since I was a sophomore in college but after 3 years of running, I slow down once and given the fucking things just enough time to catch up to me.

I think I’ve stopped dead in my tracks completely. I look up at the sky. My entire line of vision has become some shitty makeshift kaleidoscope. The stars and the moon twirl and drunkenly dance with each other. I can’t help but notice that they’re almost as bad at dancing as I am and that’s saying something because I’m whiter than bird shit!

I know it’s just the alcohol, but I feel that if I don’t stop staring up, I’ll get sucked into this space vacuum by my own negligence. Then, I see it. 

By Christ, I fucking see it. 

It’s coming right for me! 

A jumbo jet – probably the biggest one I’ve seen all goddamn weekend – is flying directly overhead. But my world is still spinning, making me not be able to tell which direction the plane is coming from. All I can hope is that this godless kamikaze doesn’t see me.

It’s making quick halos around itself. The light from the plane shines directly int0 the center of my vision. For a split second, I think I’m about to be abducted by aliens. Good. Maybe they have a cure for this shit. 

Then it passes over me. I know it was a matter of seconds, but to me, it could have lasted minutes. And as soon as it does, I’m left in awestruck and dumb, like I just saw the face of God and he decided not to damn me for just one more day and allow me to make up for my sinful way of life.

This thought is soon expelled.

The next thing I know, my gaze up at the sky makes a reversal and I’m now bent over, staring at the ground. Unlike this time, I start puking, involuntarily expelling some of the evil from my body.  After I’m done with that mess, I stumble back what feels like a mile, but I know was only a couple of yards.

“Fuck it,” I think I say and just sit down. Maybe if I’m lucky, someone will find me. Suddenly, Nick and Leah appear, walking towards me. I catch concerned glimpses from them as they recognize me and then suddenly, they’re gone. Like the song says: “out of the black, and into the ether….

————————————–

I awoke at 8 AM the next morning, somehow in my hotel bed. My alarm clock from my cellphone screams Oasis’s “Morning Glory” directly into my eardrum. As the sound echos off the walls inside my cranium, I realize that we have a flight to catch in three hours. When Nick awakes 30 minutes later, he tells me what happened. Apparently, they managed to get me back to the car where I slept so heavily that when Leah’s car pulled up to the hotel, I opened the door and fell out. Nick describes it as my “cerebal palsy” phase as I was more content to stay laying down in hotel parking lot than I was to go inside and sleep on a cushion. I don’t dispute these facts. I’m a notoriously heavy sleeper after a bender and passing out in the street isn’t something I would put by me in that state.

And to all of you saying, “Christ, what an alcoholic mess,” what can I say? If you haven’t figured it out by now, I can’t do a little of anything.

We take the hotel shuttle to the airport and I have to do what I can to keep from puking on the five minute ride. We catch our plane rides and after one layover in Orlando, Florida (I could tell we were there because the airport was full of palm trees and Mickey Mouse hats and even though we didn’t venture outside at all, I had an overwhelming desire to kill myself – and I know that wasn’t just the hangover talking), we’re back in good ole Nashville, TN.

And that was that.

Acknowledgements

To those who read this, thanks for sharing the journey with me. Thanks to Nick, Leah, Mary, Brett, Danielle, Logan, and everyone else who’s name escapes me for making this trip great. Thanks to Mia Chaput for having the leather patience to proof read this thing for me. Thanks to the bands that played and finally, thanks Austin, Texas. I gave you a bad rep, but after this past weekend, you’re back in the good books. Which means I guess I’m officially full of shit.

Cheers,

Jordan Canio

photo 1-6

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