Austin Psych Fest 2024 Preview

Music Features Austin Psych Fest
Austin Psych Fest 2024 Preview

Austin Psych Fest is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a stellar line-up of psych-rock, dream pop, and indie rock at the historic Far Out Lounge. First opening in 1908, the South Congress venue has donned many faces in its almost 100-year history—including hosting Janis Joplin and serving as a setting for Willie Nelson’s music videos, whom the two Austin Psych Fest stages are named after. It’s the perfect backdrop for a weekend loaded with incredible musicians and unforgettable performances.

Austin Psych Fest is the original name for what has become Levitation Festival—a three-day music festival held over Halloween weekend since 2015—allowing Austin Psych Fest to become its own more intimate affair housed under the tree-covered backyard of The Far Out Lounge. This year, Austin Psych Fest is packed with Paste favorites, so get your notes app ready as we walk you through our recommendations.

Levitation Room

Fresh off the release of their third full-length record, Levitation Room is ready to bring cosmic energy to the Far Out stage. The East L.A. quartet is led by singer/guitarist Julian Porte, along with lead guitarist Gabriel Fernandez, percussionist Johnathan Martin and bassist Kevin Perez. Since their inception nearly a decade ago, the band has crafted ethereal and otherworldly sounds that guide us through their particular flavor of psychedelia. They continue this journey on Strange Weather with an optimistic twist, opting to sing about love in the park or life in the city, blending sounds of melodic funk and summery pop with their classic bizarre rock sound. Their new album is an array of ‘60s sonics and lo-fi aesthetics perfectly crafted for the groovy energy of Austin Psych Fest. —Olivia Abercrombie

Courtney Barnett

Hailing from Australia, Courtney Barnett is a chameleon of indie rock. The singer/songwriter most recently lent her musical talents to the soundtrack of the Danny Cohen-directed film Anonymous Club—an intimate portrait of her life as an artist. After gaining much-deserved notoriety from 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, Barnett was selling out shows and traveling the world while dealing with self-doubt, exhaustion and anxiety, all of which were explored in the documentary. The soundtrack titled End Of The Day is a collection of 17 instrumental tracks—a deviation from her past work as a masterfully witty lyricist. Instead, the album is a selection of improvised ambiance to accompany the film. Known for her left-handed guitar playing and subdued internet presence, the 36-year-old’s aura exudes something of intrigue and mystery while maintaining a commanding on-stage presence through her lyrical honesty and earnest gaze. Barnett will surely deliver a passionate set packed with intricate guitar work and cheeky poetic lyricism. —OA


Last year, Sabrina Teitelbaum—best known as Blondshell—dropped her self-titled first album and it wound up on our year-end list of best debuts. She was also a without-a-doubt Best of What’s Next pick for April 2023, as her music was evocative of the legions of alt-rock that came before her. She sings like a classically trained vocalist while injecting her charisma with the bravado of Courtney Love and the pop likability of Avril Lavigne. As a songwriter, Blondshell instills a complexity throughout the record that perfectly mirrors her own humanity. She is vulnerable, funny, painfully honest and doesn’t hide behind vague language. Her work is a true foil to that of folks who love metaphors. No two songs on her debut sound alike, yet Blondshell is not a collage of sub-genres. Instead, it’s Blondshell tinkering with her own renditions of sonic palettes previously mastered by the artists she got really stoked on during the pandemic, like Hole, Nirvana and Patti Smith. It’s indie pop fused with grunge, but it also, thoroughly, rebuffs getting lost among other ’90s alternative imitations. That’s all thanks, in most part, to Blondshell’s songwriting and compositional finesse, both of which allow her to attach a glaze of bubbly acoustic guitar and synths atop the heavy lyrical shit that might necessitate a litany of spell-binding distortion. —Matt Mitchell


Formed in 2015 in Chicago, Dehd is an indie rock group comprising vocalist/bass guitarist Emily Kempf, vocalist/guitarist Jason Balla and drummer Eric McGrady. The trio will release their new album Poetry next month, so we hope to get an extra sneak peak this weekend. The singles released from the album are accented with the best Dehd offers: Kempf’s powerful, shouty vocals and breezy basslines, Balla’s reverb-heavy guitar melodies and McGrady’s relentless percussion. “Mood Ring” is a distorted guitar track turned shimmering pop by the end about a crush on a guy with a motorcycle, “Light On” is a softer serenade acting as a promise to a lover and “Alien” builds on this subdued sound, while bringing their trademark whimsy in a track about Kempf being an otherworldly being. While I have yet to see them perform live, they are at the top of my list this weekend to finally get a taste of their infectious energy in person. —OA

Frankie and the Witch Fingers

A Levitation favorite—hot off the release of their Live At Levitation album—Frankie and the Witch Fingers are now gracing the Austin Psych Fest stage with their unique take on proto-punk. The L.A.-based band has been on the scene for over a decade and now operates as a four-piece consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dylan Sizemore, guitarist/synth Josh Menashe, bassist Nikki “Pickle” Smith and drummer Nick Aguilar. Combining the elements of classic punk with groovy rock, Frankie and the Witch Fingers are continuously pushing the boundaries of genre to the point where it’s impossible to tell where their influences start and end. The psych-punk quartet conjures up a particularly alluring type of sonic chaos with every track, and if you are looking to mosh, groove and dance all in one set Frankie and the Witch Fingers is the one to be at. —OA


Few bands have had as bulletproof of a 10-year start as Alvvays, the Canadian dream-pop five-piece that has dropped three perfect records in a decade. From their 2014 self-titled album to 2022’s triumphant Blue Rev, Molly Rankin and her band have cornered the market on jangle-inspired indie-rock in fabulous ways, as songs like “Archie, Marry Me” and “Dreams Tonite” have been streamed 100 million times since their release—but what makes Alvvays so unstoppable is how they are a perennial live staple. Currently still touring the songs from Blue Rev, the quintet’s reputation as one of the best touring bands has set them apart from their peers indefinitely. Few artists have established such prominence in such a short time, but Alvvays aren’t like other artists. With the star-power of newer songs like “After the Earthquake” and “Easy on Your Own?,” seeing them perform every chance you get is a must. —MM

Sweeping Promises

Sweeping Promises is the project of college friends Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug. The indie duo met at Hendrix College in 2008 but didn’t start making music together as Sweeping Promises until spontaneous jam sessions in an abandoned science lab-turned-art space turned into a serious music endeavor in 2019. The pandemic put their blossoming musical aspirations on hold and saw them move to Kansas to create their debut album Hunger for a Way Out. Last year, they released the dynamic follow-up Good Living Is Coming for You, bringing a bit of punk nostalgia while ranting about the consumerist hellscape we live in—their sophomore effort levels up the modest production of their debut for a more sophisticated sonic experience. I have been following the duo since they made music as Mini Dresses, and I can’t wait to see them live in their new era as Sweeping Promises. —OA

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