Tour of Psychedelic Austin, Part 1

Roky Erickson and Okkervil River hit the historic streets

Will Sheff uses two microphones when Okkervil River backs Roky Erickson in concert: one for his serene harmony on “Be and Bring Me Home” and ghostly echo on “I Walked With a Zombie,” the other to prompt Erickson through the band’s PA without the audience hearing. He needed both at the Paramount last Saturday.

That’s not to knock the Rok, quite the contrary. David Fricke of Rolling Stone once wrote that Erickson’s a man of two words (“Thank you”), but it’s as if the psych legend has added an entire new language to his repertoire with his new comeback album, True Love Cast Out All Evil. Erickson appeared entirely more confident and composed than his debut with Okkervil at SXSW 2010. He performed on guitar for the majority of the evening, his heavy-handed down strokes adding to the acoustic vulnerability of All That May Do My Rhyme’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet” and the title track to their collaboration, and the momentum from the four-guitar army crashing down on “Stand For the Fire Demon” and “Two-Headed” easily matched that of his Austin City Limits triumph or last trip victory lap at the Paramount in 2008. There were even a few surprises: the opening blood thirst of The Evil One’s “Night of the Vampire,” thrilling Little Richard cover “Ohh! My Soul,” and some new, cryptic verses to the horror-rock chant of “John Lawman.”

Much of the credit for the evening's success should be directed towards Okkervil leader Will Sheff, who's taken an almost academic approach to his work with Erickson, going so far as to restore the original harmonica solo for the scorching set closer “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” It's a constant work in progress, a bond that continues to strengthen with each passing interaction. That much is made clear in this exclusive four-part video series of the two's Tour of Psychedelic Austin, which opens at Erickson's Austin abode.

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Tour of Psychedelic Austin, Roky Erickson, Okkervil River

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