Not Like Your Average Music Festival: Psychedelic, Shoegaze, and More Genres Shine at Levitation

Sydney Jones, Staff Writer

Levitation, a smaller music festival held in Austin, was founded in 2008 under the name Austin Psych Fest. According to Levitation, the festival has been gaining popularity in recent years, and similar fests are spreading all over the globe. Levitation brings in smaller psychedelic bands to play local venues around Austin. This year, the festival took place from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31. Senior Rebecca Harshman attended a show at Levitation.

“It’s a group of shows that’s a festival in Austin in October,” Harshman said. “It’s kind of like a counter to ACL fest. I don’t think it started after or anything, but ACL will bring in these big acts, like big pop acts, but then Levitation is more about celebrating small venues in Austin, like my shows [that I attended], like the Mohawk, which is a small venue, and smaller artists.”

Levitation required all people attending to have a proof of vaccination card or a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of the show. Audience members had to wear a mask at both indoor and outdoor venues when in lines, ordering food, in the restrooms, or where social distancing was not possible. Though there were restrictions, Harshman believes people still had lots of fun being back at concerts.

“It was really fun to see everyone for some new music I like that I found over the pandemic and see them come out to see this band live,” Harshman said. “So I really enjoyed that.”

Other music festivals like ACL also had COVID-19 precautions. Freshman Maya Cannedy-Azim, who attended ACL, said that festivals can be very crowded even with regulations, but vaccine mandates are enforced.

“You had to be vaccinated to be there unless you were too young,” Cannedy-Azim said. “You had to show your vaccination card. There was also a vaccine tent where you could get your third shot.”

According to Harshman, ACL and Levitation provide similar types of music. However, ACL tends to feature mainly pop bands while Levitation leans toward musical diversity.

“There’s also just a lot more variability of kinds of music,” Harshman said. “I know there was a show for shoegaze music that had three local shoegaze bands. And then, I know there was an electronic show that had a lineup for electronic musicians and stuff like that. They do have a diversity of music at ACL, but it’s difficult to see different smaller artists because of the way that the artists get bigger as the night gets later.”

Though many of the bands aren’t extremely popular, they can give a whole perspective into music, according to Harshman. With more popular bands like The Hives, to lesser known bands like Equip, Levitation has a full range.

“I would recommend it, especially if there’s shows you never heard of,” Harshman said. “They’re just small intimate settings most of the time that are just great to be, but then they also will pull some larger artists for the scale of the festival.”