Austin Psych Fest Live (Sunday): Holy Wave
Holy Wave made its second appearance at Austin Psych Fest after a year of substantial growth and provocative live exhibitions, plus securing an opening slot behind Sweden’s new Afrodelic psych sensation Goat. Unfortunately, their abbreviated late-afternoon set Sunday in the Levitation tent seemed out of whack for the worthy up-and-comers.
Sheltered from the day’s scorch, the locals had none of their usual spark. Once again it seemed a classic case of festival slotting, and in this case, the age-old conundrum of playing when the sun’s still up. Veterans like Besnard Lakes had already fallen prey to daylight in the weekend.
If neon lights are what it takes to bring a band to life, Holy Wave doesn’t have any worries going on before the circus that constitutes Goat, but its hometown tour launch got cut off at the knees without any nighttime club ambiance. That left the band’s penchant for soaring hooks on tracks like “Albuquerque Freakout” actually dampened by the tent, though they’d have most likely fared worse outside in the bake sale.
The group’s singular save in all of this was snappy, pervasive percussion that cut through the haze and kept the boys riding the line between psych and pop. Even that eventually leaned lackluster in the face of a healthy gathering for the band. No one here doubts Holy Wave capabilities, but these 30 minutes defined a deflated set.
Were it not for the two-song warning and a “K, thanks” as a sign-off, the unceremonious ending would have felt like a smack to the head. It still kind of did.