The Austin Chronicle

The 14th Floor

Psych era survivors still have visions

By Margaret Moser, August 12, 2005, Music

When this blotter was being hatched, veteran Chronicle contributor Greg Beets suggested that the "empty nest syndrome" was largely responsible for the resurgence of reunions by regional Sixties bands. It was an astute, almost too obvious observation, and yet it seems to be true, literally, as with Todd Potter of Bubble Puppy, as well as, figuratively, the case of Roky Erickson. Either way, the psychedelic sounds of Texas bands in the Sixties are as relevant now as then. The word "psychedelic" has gone through myriad changes since the days when the blanket term applied equally to the Velvet Underground as the Grateful Dead and Sir Douglas Quintet. Yet interest remains high from fans and collectors of the genre, enough to keep both the original groups and their modern-day counterparts thriving. In the end, "psychedelic" is the wrong word for these four Lone Star acts, but they were indisputably a product of that era.

A comment made last year by Benny Thurman of the original 13th Floor Elevators was cautionary: "Believe me, nobody wants to stay on the 13th floor. It's too weird." The Elevators were the ambassadors of musical enlightenment ("High Baptismal Flow," Music, August 13, 2004; "High Baptismal Flow: Part 2," Music, August 20, 2004), but they weren't the only ones. Shiva's Headband and the Golden Dawn were local peer bands as Bubble Puppy and Zakary Thaks were regional peers. Almost 40 years later, all those bands have vital personnel, performing individually or together, and recording as if, well, as if they were kids again.

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