The Most Memorable Moments of Levitation’s Saturday and Sunday

Die Spitz, L7, and the Pinky Rings as Fembots

The Chronicle music team ventured across downtown venues to wrap the Black Angels’ homegrown musical convocation. Find our most memorable Halloweekend-closing sets below, and revisit Thursday and Friday’s recaps here.

Die Spitz (Photo by Isabella Martinez)

Die Spitz Spark Intergenerational Opening Rage

For a rising punk act that cut their teeth at co-op shows and dive bars like Hotel Vegas, Austin’s Die Spitz commanded the Mohawk stage like a headliner. Donning clown garb and an unidentifiable elf costume, the self-proclaimed "boy band with tits" primed Mohawk’s multi-generational L7 crowd with banshee screams, crunchy guitar riffs, and one of the rowdiest mosh pits ever witnessed during an opening slot. The all-femme quartet kicked off their 36 minutes of fury with the taunting choruses and slinky six-strings of "Evangeline," before vocalist and guitarist Ava Schrobilgen snarled a demand for the crowd to "MOSHHHH." Old heads and indie youth collided during fight-and-flight anthem "Going Away," and continued to thrash and squirm the entire set. Die Spitz strutted through oldies and unreleased numbers – most notably "Broken Dogs Gushing Blood" – without a shred of hesitation. When thundering percussionist Chloe Andrews traded instruments with Schrobilgen, and when the latter's guitar strap blew out, the band raged on. The Levitation first-timers closed shop with downstream bass riffs and axe rumbles in drop D, but even after Die Spitz left the stage, the rage never did. – Kriss Conklin

The Pinky Rings (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The Pinky Rings Play Misbehaving Fembots

Even the sharp chill that ripped through the Mohawk air couldn’t spook Levitation’s Saturday punk lineup into submission. First up, ultra-chic five piece the Pinky Rings paraded gloriously in a cheeky group costume of blue-velvet Austin Powers with a quartet of sexy, gun-boob-adorned pink robots. The “Bodega Babies” teased out unrelenting garage rock tunes with killer hooks and mucho misbehavior from their self-titled debut album, with lead singer Bella Borbon strutting around the outdoor stage’s splattered tie-dye visuals, like a psychedelic Jackson Pollock canvas. Fired up with riot grrrl sensibilities, “Banged Up” and “Butane Dreams” proclaimed sultry domination – the latter with an alluring declaration of “Bitch it’s my way, or the highway.” Or, as declared by the Pinky Rings themselves: “Tonight we will not be behaving.” Yes, indeed! – Mars Salazar

Tropical Fuck Storm (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Tropical Fuck Storm’s Pre-Gizzard Compressed Mania

Sandwiched between their pals King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and garage-rocking offshoot the Murlocs, Saturday at Stubb’s, Melbourne quartet Tropical Fuck Storm quickly proved themselves the black sheep of the family. Like spiritual precedents Beefheart, Pere Ubu, Suicide, and the Stooges (whose “Ann” they covered), TFS belied the Swinging Sixties with discordant guitar scree, pitiless rhythm pound, and leader Gareth Liddiard’s compressed mania – all oblivious to the Summer of Love. “Braindrops” opened with fractured scratch funk over savage blasts of noise, heralding a persistent, almost gleeful deconstruction of rock tropes from singalong pop (“New Romeo Agent”) to power balladry (“You Let My Tyres Down”). Though obfuscated by the way the band attacks their songs – as if they’re angry they exist – clever arrangements, catchy melodies, and strong writing make “Rubber Bullies” and “Paradise” more than just catharsis. (That was provided by a hysterical, curb-stomp mugging of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”) Despite their square-peg status, by the end TFS had the Gizzardlings firmly on the side of the damned. – Michael Toland

George Clanton’s Electropop Earthquake as ESPRIT

Whether due to humility or logistics, the co-founder of 100% Electronica shook the sunken floor of Elysium at a sharp 9:15pm, allowing label mates Death’s Dynamic Shroud to follow on Saturday. A founding father of the internet-affiliated chillwave movement, George Clanton’s side project ESPRIT oscillated between silky synths and grating hums. Though the crowd donned standard Levitation fare in varying degrees of Halloween costuming, others paid homage to the genre as what one person deemed “just a vaporwave guy” (read: a graphic T-shirt). Collecting a considerably online community IRL, ESPRIT’s intricate splicing of “Tom’s Diner” into twinkling beats and a cloudy remix of his own collaboration with 311’s Nick Hexum found simultaneous head bobs. Hazily waving a hammer around as if it weren’t a dangerous object, Clanton’s brief 30-minute stint tore into eardrums with the same subtle contradiction. – Laiken Neumann

Neggy Gemmy (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Neggy Gemmy Spills Hyperpop Juice

Fellow 100% Electronica co-founder Neggy Gemmy (formerly known as Negative Gemini) headlined Elysium Saturday night, fluttering across the stage with unbridled energy to counteract ESPRIT’s prior sedentary nods. Lindsey French’s auto-tuned, alien vocals flickered in and out, occasionally lost in tight dance thumps. The Los Angeles-based musician and producer’s teeming enthusiasm remained consistent, however, seeping into each serving of atmospheric synthpop and Nineties club grooves. Whether changing her SD card mid-set or slinging a guitar over her shoulder to play the driving line of “You Weren’t There Anymore,” French injected bonafide electricity into each moment. After leaving the stage for a few seconds, she popped back on for a repeat encore of 2022 single “Gemmy Juice,” a self-branded hyperpop ringtone. Atomic bounce guaranteed, Gemmy’s juice is infectious. – Laiken Neumann

Nolan Potter-Led Mystery Groop Sparkles After Midnight

Late after Saturday night’s festivities, Mohawk’s indoor showcased an absolute, goddamn power hour with Mystery Groop – a jam band with musical talent from Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, Hooveriii, Prettiest Eyes, and Acid Carousel. Principal Potter led the assembly wielding a silver flute in place of a baton, while former Nightmare Band drummer Doran Rawlinson reprised his role on the kit. Acid Carousel bassist Nick Leon’s funky prowess on the keys pushed the mixed-vegetable-soup-style gig towards the eclectic power of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Unavailable online or on record, the collective shot a musical shooting star, glinting with the rarity of a Levitation after show special. – Mars Salazar

L7 (Photo by Isabella Martinez)

L7 Urges “Fast & Frightening” Election Participation

Levitation, Lucktoberfest, L7 – jackpot, three cherries. Yet even a Halloween warm-up weekender calls time, three days of musical bacchanalia and all-out blitz. Sabbath sluggishness lurked enough for L7 front dame Donita Sparks to wonder if the crammed crowd had been “out seeing bands all day.” As such, perhaps, the most consistently thrilling band of the grunge era started out slow, steady – mid-tempo, really, but monotone. Opener “Andres,” ex-set highlight “Everglade,” and “Shove” all churned an almost death metal buzz saw. “Please stop bullying our crew,” snapped bassist Jennifer Finch at the stage-front Mohawk mayhem. Suzi Gardner gave a witchy, menacing, horror flick reading of “Monster” from OG obliterator Bricks Are Heavy, 30 this year. “Non Existent Patricia” turned the tide, less wall o’ guitar and Dee Plakas pounding, but “Drama” rounded the corner. “Well, I’ve seen it all,” nodded Sparks at a blind crowd surfer. Not all: “One More Thing” put the chunk in chunky, “Pretend That We’re Dead” lumbered like a soccer chant, and “Shitlist” hit the fan. “We want everyone to vote,” announced Sparks, closing out the 75-minute set. “This song is for all the sisters in the house.” Election day looms, “Fast & Frightening.” – Raoul Hernandez

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Levitation, Levitation 2022, The Pinky Rings, Bella Borbon, Tropical Fuck Storm, George Clanton, ESPRIT, Neggy Gemmy, Nolan Potter, Mystery Groop, Acid Carousel, Doran Rawlinson, Nick Leon, Die Spitz

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