Austin Psych Fest: The Rain Parade

Kick-off headliners had a line around the block at Red 7

The Rain Parade, Red 7, 4.25.13
The Rain Parade, Red 7, 4.25.13 (by John Anderson)

The so-called Paisley Underground was more of a loose affiliation of like-minded friends than an actual movement, but if there was a group that epitomizes its post-punk take on Sixties psychedelia, it was the Rain Parade. The crush to get into Red 7 last night to see the band’s only Psych Fest set demonstrated just that.

The most traditionally psychedelic of that Reagan-era pack (if also one of the most short-lived), the group’s shimmering, melodic music set a standard for hundreds of psych rock revivalists to follow.

Now reunited with core members Matt Piucci, Steven Roback, and John Thoman – though not founder David Roback, still in thrall to Mazzy Star – the band kicked off Austin Psych Fest with a set of almost quintessential Eighties acid rock.

Roback’s ethereal melodiousness partnered perfectly with Piucci’s earthier crunch, the bandmembers all smiles and clearly enjoying themselves. Opening with “This Can’t Be Today,” from its 30-year-old debut Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, the Parade indulged in a nostalgic set-list, but played the songs as if they were new.

To the younger portion of the crowd, they probably were.

“Kaleidoscope” and “What She’s Done to Your Mind” acted as primers on how to write a perfect acid pop tune, while “1 Hour 1/2 Ago” crammed a multi-part epic into less than five minutes. The show really took off when Piucci and Thoman locked horns, six-strings dueling on “You Are My Friend” and the Parade’s anthemic classic “No Easy Way Down.”

Ending with the pulverizing demo “Got the Fear,” the Rain Parade addressed its balance of delicate tunesmithery and strapping muscle with high emotion and higher volume.

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