Back in the days of yore, early November in Austin meant Fun Fun Fun Fest. This was a glorious three day festival in Austin that melded the worlds of metal, punk, hip/hop and indie rock into a glorious Utopian mishmash of awesome. It was a glorious fest that is sadly no more. In its place on the calendar in Austin is Levitation Fest. The lineups for this fest typically field a strong roster of metal bands, but the fest takes a hit overall since it doesn’t take place in one idyllic location, but is spread out among many of Austin’s small and mid-size downtown club venues.
I only attended one day of the festival this year. Sadly, I won’t be reporting on the sets for Power Trip, High on Fire, Russian Circles or Deafheaven. I decided to hit the Saturday afternoon set of Chelsea Wolfe and Ioanna Gika as my appetizer and then finished the day off with the main course Red Fang, Windhand, Torche and Monolord.
So, you read the description of the venue for the first show correctly. It took place at a church. Now, say what you will about organized religion, but one thing they do proper is architecture. The arching roofs, the stained glass windows, the shadows thrown by the various candle displays. Man, let’s face it: Churches are gothic and creepy as fuck. After witnessing this show, I really want more metal shows at churches. This show was Chelsea Wolfe performing an acoustic set that highlighted her latest album, which was also an acoustic affair (shocker). I didn’t take any video of her set because it just seemed like too intimate of a setting, but the light show and the stage props she brought really took advantage of the unique venue. This was just one of those really magical performances and one of those I felt lucky to witness. Opener Ioanna Gika (just a fantastic name) provided what seemed to be a very Chelsea-like inspired performance with a little more technical/industrial bent to her sound. Props to the fine folks at Central Presbyterian Church of Austin for agreeing to host this awesome show that included a song about the Antichrist.
After cramming a couple of slices of pizza in my face after Chelsea finished her set, it was over to The Mohawk for a combo doom and stoner metal feast. Monolord was the opener of the night session and they were honestly the main reason I was at this show. I’ve been a pretty big fan of their occult stoner metal jam for some time now and their latest album, No Comfort, has been one of my favorite releases this year. Their live show was right in line with what I had expected out of this power trio. So much fuzz. Fuzz for days.
Second up was Torche. Torche is one of those bands that is kind of hard to categorize. They’re just Torche. Kind of punk. Kind of hardcore. Kind of pop/indie rock. Catchy as all hell and just flat out cool riffs for days. They came out and just ripped right through a nice tight set that contained no filler.
Windhand left the biggest impression of the evening. I hadn’t really been much of a fan of theirs until their latest release, Eternal Return. This was my first time to see them in a live setting and, wow, do they put on a good show. I think we actually got fortunate to see them at all because they were actually subjected to a robbery while performing in Houston earlier in the week and lost most of their touring equipment. The unfortunate events of the past week didn’t seem to affect the band’s performance at all. Again, I can’t praise these guys enough for such a raw and present live experience they brought.
Closer was Red Fang. Red Fang is one of those bands that flat out brings the fun. It’s been a while since we have received any new material from these guys. So, it was extra nice when they rolled out a couple of new tracks that are supposed to be featured on a new album coming out in 2020. Both tracks really smoked and seemed to be a little more on the aggressive side of the Red Fang sound.
All in all, even though it was just one day for me personally, Levitation 2019 was a success. Even though it doesn’t quite reach the level of epicness that was Fun Fun Fun, it’s still nice to have a festival in early November that caters to our chosen brand of music.