Walk tall, kick ass, learn to speak Arabic, love music, and never forget you come from a long line of truth seekers, lovers and warriors. – Hunter S. Thompson
We beg for it.
We kneel at the altar of music’s tongue-lashing.
We psych rock, prog rock, stoner rock, garage rock, tribal rock, blues rock, world rock tourists are roaming your streets, Texas.
We are looking for George’s dead cats.
We are looking for Dubya’s hidden cannibalism.
We are your living dead.
God is dead.
Dead is God.
Dubya ate God for breakfast.
We are here to release Him from the bowels.
As Alex Maas, APF (now changed to LEVITATION) founder and The Black Angels front man pointed out on the final night of the three-day dirge tri-fecta that is Austin Psych Fest, more soldiers commit suicide each day than die in combat.
I would rather dance than die in combat.
I would rather dance than die by my own hand.
I would rather dance barefoot under the big tree,
the one with the swings, the one holding the old young man.
The old young woman.
The old young aging like trees.
Trees age gracefully.
We do not think about age this weekend.
We only think about trees and grass and Aquarius.
It is our age.
It is our brand.
It is no brand.
It is DA MAN’s darkest nightmare.
A white, plaster cow faces the Reverberation stage. In three days this blank canvas will gradually be covered in sketches, love songs, pentagrams, prayers, wishes, secrets, peace signs, confessions, profanity and badly-drawn penises. A young man leaps onto the back of the bull as his friends snap away on their camera phones. Then, they disappear, giggling into the spring night.
I see curved horns and angel wings.
I see taxidermy, mirrors hanging from low branches,
an old black ride hiding a body in its trunk.
Its hood opens and closes like a yawning dog at my feet.
I stumble towards the smell of weed.
Something happens to my ankle bones. I am vibrating.
It’s the Cult of Dom Keller.
They have a hold of my boot soles.
Bass drum drum drum drum drum drum…
Then a siren calls me from her poison cave.
Warpaint sneak up on you like a siren should.
Ladies “singing each to each” like Eliot’s sad saviors from the ocean caves in that love poem about a confused man at the door of carpe diem sensibilities and too many questions. These women are not confused. These women sound right at home in the balm and breeze of early evening as they suckle our hungry hearts and clear away the bad vibrations of the century.
Our mantra is not about bad vibrations.
Our mantra is not a call to arms or a cliché version of your DADDY issues.
We all have DADDY issues.
We just choose to take our dose of DADDY with a gulp of spirit juice.
This weekend, we will hold his feet over the fire.
Fire walk with me.
We are all Fire Walkers here.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club emerge as wolfhounds howl at midnight to the full moon over Austin. We call to each other as wolves do. We also call to our enemies. Stay away, if you know what’s good for you. Their music is good for me. I hear it through my clavicles and hip bones. My deaf ear even wakes up for them. If you see me at death’s door, play me some BRMC, and let me go.
Smoke, lights, moon, airplanes over the tents every five minutes. Bad associations here. How can flying metal resemble a crucifixion? Ask Manhattan. Ask Jesus. Ask Kali and Karma and Judas. Ask all the neo-hippies here hiding from all the other neo’s in the world: neo-capitalists, neo-conservatives, neo-liberals. This is a harkening back to the ideals of the real Age of Aquarius.
We are their progeny of dying angels.
We are the last breath of social revolution.
All out of sonic dopamine surge, we lurch to our cars like hungry alley cats.
The drunkard also walks to his car of death alone.
We watch him stumble in.
His hands are shaking.
The world is too much with him.
I go to bed in my window-less room just before dawn…
Today, a marathon run to Dallas in our gas-efficient vehicle that we push to its limit because we are on a slam-bam mission to see Plowboy open for BRMC, and we make it in the nick of time to see the spawning of a new rock and roll era raised on mother nature and The Clash bootlegs.
If these boys were your kids, you would win parent of the year.
Fifteen, you say? No shit, really?
Take your gum out of your mouth and whistle at them. They have been baptized and knighted. They are tomorrow’s correct answer to the standardized test written by Picasso and graded by Kurt Cobain. Wholesome rock and roll with a tinge of 21st century, born-and-raised, blue-hearted old-soul, wisdom.
Then BRMC. This time at the House of Blues where they can play a proper set, a two-hour plus show with hardly any break in between songs because that is how real musicians give you your hard earned money’s worth. And in this age of “CRAPITALISM” when every Tom, Dick and Disney want to fist-fuck the middles class workhorse any way they can through false advertising, hidden agendas, price gouges and false promises, a high return on one’s ticket price investment is much appreciated. Their merchandise is even globally conscious. This is the band of the people. This is the band of real American rock and roll enterprise, the old school kind some people resent for its scrappy, spit in your face, independence. Do or die. Bless their resilient hearts. I hope they write a thousand songs.
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.
Through the opaque highway, we dash back to Austin, and I look out the passenger window in a state of satisfied time-suspension disbelief.
Time stands still on the black top,
in God’s country,
in the merciful hands of early Sunday morning
car accidents, construction crews, agriculture
by the dashboard light and to the soundtrack of BRMC’s Howl Sessions.
Like Allen Ginsberg’s magnum opus of the same name, this band exemplifies the “angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.” Of course, Allen used the term “hipster” 50 years ago, and what it meant then is what I am referring to. A hipster, in its most diluted essence, can be a wondrous thing to behold.
Goodbye Dallas. Hello again Austin. It’s four o’clock in the morning.
Children live in this house for rent.
Child spirit everywhere.
I hear their absent giggles.
I imagine their soft, new hair.
We listen to Bloodletting by Johnette Napolitano before we head out. We are cured of our social disease.
Deap Vally are two ladies clad in dusty daisy dukes and sequined bras. One pummels the drums, beats the bass with bare feet, whipping her burnt orange hair over the tom tom. The river behind them, now calm after the lightning and thunder from the previous night, mirrors a couple lounging on the American flag. I have always loved the colors of our flag. They sit by the water against the deep velvet green of the still-wet grass. Two American girls at their prime, raised on Wonder Bread and Oscar Meyer, picnicking on DADDY’s flag. This is what APF is about. Freedom to do whatever the fuck you want without anyone hassling you for your odd habits, odd costume, odd props or odd taste in picnic blankets.
We bump and grind our way towards Mecca.
Angels color of night.
Color of sin.
Color of innocence.
Someone is dancing alone in the corner.
He is wearing guitar chords for hair.
He is Damien.
He is archangel Gabriel.
He is Kali in the rain.
We are floating around like planets on separate orbits.
The sun is an amorous hyperbole in the southern sky.
Empire is at hand.
The most ascetic religious types strive for this transcendence through self-immolation, self-flagellation and other painful methods I could never quite wrap my head around. Then again, have you seen musicians practice obsessively until their fingers bleed? Without passion, you’re a fashion. 
Bloodhounds on my trail, I head for the main stage as the father of psych rock emerges with a fiery-haired lady on keys. As we drool over her sunset tendrils swaying to and fro in the gentle breeze, Roky Erickson’s white dove heart reminds us what this weekend is all about.
Revival. This is a revival. And we are survivors all. Penitants. We are the type of people who would live on the 13th floor of a building, would carve the number into our arms. Like Roky’s second coming, we are reborn into the mouth of Gaia, and from her we emerge like dead stars light years ahead of our own consciousness. I am not on drugs. I am on music. I am on love.
I am on my tipie toes bouncing to The Black Angels later that night. Have you heard their new album? If not, you are like a half-blind, half-deaf, half-awake blob. Let it turn you into a real soul again. Spin it hard on your vinyl machine. Stick in the car and roll up the windows. The nutrients will seep into your navel, and you will like them like a good boy should.
We head home before Moving Sidewalks take the stage because we are older than we were 20 years ago when body and head could marathon through a festival more easily than it can tonight, but, as luck would have it, the next morning, we are on the same flight back to Los Angeles as one of best blues-rock guitarists to hail from the great state of Texas! Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Moving Sidewalks drags his lanky frame through the Austin airport sporting his signature orange beard, black knit cap and dark glasses. Obliging autograph seekers, travelling alone into the great, wide open towards the pearly gates of vintage Los Angeles where who knows who/what awaits the man with the muscular riffs.
Go go go go go.
All weekend, all night, always.
This carpe diem dime bag
in our back pockets.
A fifth of sinister.
Grass and mud and clay.
Were you there to see The Black Ryder, The Dead Skeletons, The Warlocks at war with angry gods? To watch as lightening illuminated the slanted trees around the river lined up like sturdy children, heads bowed, waiting in line for more?