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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

13th Floor Elevators Reunion - Levitation 5/10/15

13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
As my friend Sheldon said on the 13th Floor Elevators / Roky Erickson Facebook Group: "I went to the reunion with low expectations, I didn't know if Roky would be able to get it together but they honestly blew me away. It was everything I thought it could be and then some."


13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
That pretty much sums it up for me too for the 13th Floor Elevators Reunion. I flew into Austin in the 8th amid dire weather predictions of "100%" chance of rain and was worried that the 13th Floor Elevators' big moment would be washed out. There's something about torrential downpours that puts a damper on any concert. If it had rained and hailed at the Beatles' Shea Stadium show, or Jimi's Monterey Pop debut, we would probably be telling a different story about those events today. Throw in the fact that the 13th Floor Elevators, along with Moby Grape, have to be one of THE unluckiest bands on the planet (if you believe in luck) and the weather reports had many fans, including myself, apprehensive. Me? I was going to the dollar store and investing in a poncho.


13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
We had the Fan Meet-Up, at Matt's El Rancho in South Austin, the day before on the 9th and the weather held out. There were just a few sprinkles while we set up and then it was smooth sailing after 1:00 pm when the folks arrived. We had about 30 people show up including
John Ike Walton, Drummer for the 'Elevators. I have known John Ike for fifteen years but this was the first time that I met him in the flesh and, I must say, what a nice man. He smiled the whole time, posed for pictures, and was very nice and charming. Jack Ortman showed up and ran the exhibits which included a 1966 "Spaceman" poster signed by the band
AND Chet Helms, a copy of the first edition of Openers, a Rusk master tape on reel to reel, more posters, more books, more vinyl, more... Mal Thursday showed up and announced that he has struck a cool distribution deal for his syndicated radio show. Mikel Erickson was there. The event went on for approximately two hours and was very enjoyable.



The day of the show I hung out with friends and decided to go to the event later. I was strictly there to see the 'Elevators. Besides, I'm getting too old to walk around a concert site all day, carrying a chair, and eating turkey asshole & guts hotdogs or eating scrub burgers for $12.00. No, I was much better off hanging with my, like-minded, friends at their homes.


Going into the show, I got separated from my friends and had to make the home-stretch of the drive myself. I stopped at the Austin Airport Parking Area and a kind Attendant called Carson Creek Ranch up on his phone/map and gave me very specific directions. I drove in, parked, and walked right into the event. Nobody asked me for a ticket or nothing! I just strolled right in.
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators Reunion

I got there right as the Black Angels were about to come on and I walked up to the Main Stage and set up my chair. They, the Black Angels, were really good. Their sound lends itself to festivals and huge sound systems. The sound system was wailing out this weird music where the two Guitarists had the echo turned UP and were flanging it apart into many different levels and abstractions. They really got that Syd Barrett vibe going. Some of the people I came with said that the Black Angels didn't play songs but drones and it all sounded the same. Some of it sounded similar but I say that was a good thing. It was just trippy music blaring out of the huge stacks and it was cool to watch all of the kids on their various drugs and mushrooms twitch and sway about. Plus, they had a huge screen behind them showing trippy patterns and videos.



Then the 'Angels were over and it was time for the 13th Floor Elevators. I moved my seat up to ten feet across from the soundboard tent. People began texting me asking if the band was playing yet...


After a bit the 13th Floor Elevators ambled out onto the stage and launched into She Lives. My thirty year wait was over. The sound on She Lives was a little light, like the band was feeling the vibe and equipment out. Additionally, Tommy was pretty high up in the mix and making his vocalizations. I say "vocalizations" because, for me, the mystery of *how* does he make that sound with the jug has been solved. The jug is merely a prop and Tommy is making those sounds with his mouth. Maybe the jug provides a bit of an echo to the vocalizations but that's it. The sound was crystal clear and, obviously, Tommy was making the sounds by mouth. The band got some good three part harmonies going during this song. Roky sounded good and strong.



Fire Engine was up next and Tommy did a fair approximation of a Fire Engine and then went back into his vocalizations. Thankfully, this was the last song that Tommy was "up" in the mix for. After Fire Engine, his contributions were muted more by the Sound People. To me, Tommy's contributions are a distraction and have almost nothing to do with the song except for the stray vocalization for Fire Engine. I was glad when his jug was turned down a bit in the mix.




Next up came Earthquake and it was a real stomper. The two Guitarists had their echo units on "high" and everything was really psychedelic sounding. After Earthquake came Tried to Hide and I mistook it for Levitation at the beginning. Both songs sound a bit similar at the beginning.



Up next was their Magnum Opus - Slip Inside This House! Roky remembered all the words and didn't drop the beat! It was perfect! And face it, this is a difficult song. At the very end the band did a "jam" that was really tasty. I can die now.





13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
Then came Splash 1, followed by Kingdom of Heaven, these songs go very well together and both speak of spirituality and a religious experience. It was very cool to perform these songs together.

Up next was the curveball, Nobody to Love, Stacy's song off of Easter Everywhere. Roky did a fantastic job and this was a true Stacy Sutherland tribute.
13th Floor Elevators Reunion
13th Floor Elevators reunion

Then came the two "trip" songs: Reverberation and Roller Coaster. Reverberation is about throwing caution and doubt into the wind and going for it, with a strong dose, while tripping. Roller Coaster is probably the most accurate and harrowing description of the LSD experience ever put to lyric and music. All of the guitars' effects were on "high" and it was bliss; the perfect mix of garage and psych. After it was over the 'Elevators left the stage.
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After a bit they returned for what could only be You're Gonna Miss Me. Roky had some mike issues in the beginning that had to be sorted through but he emerged from that strong. The band ripped through a quick version of YGMM and it was over. The whole experience lasted about sixty minutes. Everything was taken off of the first two albums with nothing coming from Bull of the Woods or the fake live album.




It was great! They totally pulled it off!

SETLIST:

She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)

Fire Engine
Earthquake
Tried to Hide
Slip Inside This House
(I’ve Got) Levitation
Splash 1
Kingdom of Heaven
Nobody to Love
Reverberation (Doubt)
Roller Coaster
enc. You’re Gonna Miss Me.


Some photographs courtesy of Michael Passman. Website:
http://modrockerphotography.blogspot.com

Some photographs courtesy of Lincoln Morrison. Website:
http://www.lincolnmorrison.com


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