Levitation Review: Holy Wave & Ringo Deathstarr
Lauded locals align for psychedelic/shoegaze double feature
By Rachel Rascoe,
10:10AM, Fri. Apr. 27, 2018
Austin’s psych rock gods smiled down on Levitation’s Thursday kickoff for an amiable rendezvous across Red River. In a double feature of established local explorers, Holy Wave commemorated an album release at Cheer Up Charlies, followed by Ringo Deathstarr’s homage to astral rock down the block at Beerland.
On last month’s Adult Fear, Holy Wave remained defined by washy psychedelia while anchoring to pop hooks and solidified song structure. Deathstarr’s latest, 2015 LP Pure Mood, sidestepped monotonous droning with a tough, frisky edge. For each, the sonic synthesis of referential elements packed distinctive flavor, reproduced live in multi-part distinction.
Local jangle-y rockers the Nymphs warmed Cheer Up’s outdoor stage, followed by the immersive auditory environment of San Francisco-based producer Al Lover.
Assembled as a sixpiece, El Paso transplants Holy Wave ran through their new work’s nine chugging tracks. Vocalists Ryan Fuson and Kyle Hager fronted the serene crew, trading off on drifting choruses and swapping posts on guitar and keys a few songs in. Diving into the epic, eight-minute “Habibi,” propulsive drummer Julian Ruiz provided the deadpan call-and-response to the two leads’ cheeky falsetto.
Amid a technical delay midway through the hour-long, album-ordered set, Hager joked, “We have to flip the record right now.” Back on track, groovy drum machine “David’s Flower” and frenzied title track “Adult Fear” stood out on the show’s B-side, finalized with stair-stepping pleasantry “Time is Not Okay.”
Meanwhile, within Beerland’s dive bar innards, cosmic trio Suspirians opened with fuzzed-out post-punk. Double husband-and-wife quartet Blushing foreshadowed the final act with sleek shoegaze indulgences.
In 40 minutes of heavy-then-dreamy alternations, Ringo Deathstarr proved at once monolithic and thoughtfully decipherable. Alex Gehring’s crystalline chime floated over the booming brunt of Daniel Coborn’s crashing drums and an overall punky fortitude. Roaming guitarist Elliott Frazier sometimes stepped in for a grittier vocal lead.
An unreleased track played out like a catchy, deconstructed prom dance and spoke well for an upcoming release. Funky industrial take “Stare at the Sun” and a savagely weighted “Never,” during which Frazier lost his genre-necessitated whammy bar, bookended the set.
In straddling territory both otherworldly and grounded in predecessors, the dual local headliners concocted their own enthralling auras.