Levitation Review: Om, True Widow, Dallas Acid

Urban doom, drone, enchantment

Minimal drone and ambient pools of sound washed over Mohawk on Saturday night as Sleep offshoot Om topped a bill built on a pair of Texans, Dallas’ True Widow, and Austin’s Dallas Acid. Meet Levitation’s Urban Edition, the concrete sibling of the previously grassy hillside and blankets festival.

Dallas Acid (Photo by John Anderson)

Even so, before the local opener manned their cosmonaut stations at 9pm, the venue already pulsed like a hallucination. An event called Levitation suggests a sacred space, and the outside stage – bathed in kaleidoscopic projections – seemed alive. The gong at the center drew energy toward it.

Acid’s Linda Beecroft began her trio’s aural blessing with a small black mallet, making patterns as she drew long, slow lines down the center of the gong, then diagonally in an X shape. The dream state of haunting minimalism created by this marshmallow mallet percussion rode ambient synths from Christian Havins and Michael Gerner, who faced each other as bearded, expressionless, Easter Island gods of electronic sound. They didn’t need the former Austin Psych Fest’s onetime barn, ranch, or now a downtown live music staple to ground their gravity-free bewitching.

The fast-filling house stood in a still, silent trance for a full ten minutes before fidgeting broke out.

True Widow’s Nicole Estill (Photo by John Anderson)

Up next, True Widow meted out shoegazing stoner rock that prolonged the hypnosis, heavy sludge from frontman Dan Phillips and the rhythm section of Nicole Estill on bass and Timothy Starks on drums coating all. Now four albums deep, Widow leaned slightly toward its most recent album, 2016’s Avvolgere (“Black Shredder,” “Sante,” “Entheogen”), but “Four Teeth” and “Bleeder” from 2013’s Circumambulation and 2008’s eponymous debut also turned on a tuned-in crowd.

Om (Photo by John Anderson)

A reactivated Om served the main course with an hour’s worth of head nodders, or head bangers, depending on the section. Sleep’s original drum and bass, er, rhythm section of wide-eyed Al Cisneros on bass and vox and Emil Amos on drums were joined by Rob Lowe, who played an array of instruments laid out on a table in front of him, of which the tambourine looked like the most unhinged fun. Lowe also contributed vocals to the doom pioneers’ offshoot, breaking the spell of Cisneros’ minimal chanting croak to add what sounded like a wail to the Gods, elaborating on Om’s spiritual explorations and religious themes.

Ten minute jams reigned supreme here, true to form. After an ambient exploration, Cisneros thanked the crowd, who were glued in place, expecting an encore so intently that they forgot to clap, possibly still enchanted.

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Levitation 2018, Om, Sleep, Al Cisneros, Emil Amos, Rob Lowe, True Widow, Dan Phillips, Nicole Estill, Timothy Starks, Linda Beecroft, Christian Havins, Michael Gerner

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