“We expected refunds to be processed within 30 days of the event, and hopefully sooner, but unfortunately the timeline isn’t up to us. It may take longer. We realize that the wait for refunds is frustrating, and we also understand that many customers are confused as to why it’s taking so long.
“Many events have financial backing, from investors or parent companies, which can be tapped into to immediately refund money. Levitation is an independently owned event, and the cancellation has been an unprecedented blow for the tiny company and record label that organizes it, The Reverberation Appreciation Society. All funds that came in from ticket sales went to paying for event costs – paying deposits for performers, production vendors and all other event costs. Like every other year, every penny was spent on event costs as it came in and even though the festival was cancelled, all of those costs still have to be paid. We simply do not have the funds or any way to process refunds to customers until the insurance claim has been paid out, and these things move at their own pace, unfortunately. Despite the urgency and our working night and day to try to expedite the process, it’s taking longer than anyone would like.
“We will make an announcement as soon as we have a definitive timeline and will let customers know when to expect a refund.”
“We are very sad that Levitation had to cancel but relieved that we did not have thousands of people out for the storm last night! It was very scary!” they wrote on the post accompanying 20 photos of toppled Porta Potties, wind-collapsed tents and saturated grounds.
“Tonight, we’re reflecting on a very difficult weekend. We now know that the right decision was made regarding everyone’s safety,” Levitation organizers said in an email sent late Sunday night.
While organizers said “the work picking up the pieces from the canceled 2016 festival is far from over” they assured fans there would be a “significant update” on refund information by the end of the day Monday. Levitation organizers said over the weekend, all tickets, camping passes and upgrades would be updated, but refunds might take up to 30 days to come through.
Update: 3:25 p.m. Levitation has released the list of rescheduled shows for this weekend. Levitation wristbands will not be honored at any of these shows. Tickets to all shows are $5 and proceeds will go to flood relief in Texas via the Austin Relief Alliance Fund. Tickets went on sale online only and many rapidly sold out.
Refunds will be issued. Unfortunately they might take a few weeks to process.
From the fest:Festival representatives will be issuing refunds through Front Gate Tickets, and contacting all those who purchased tickets by email shortly. All ticket types, including Weekend Passes, Deluxe Passes, Single Day Tickets, Camping Passes, Camping Rentals and RV spots will be refunded. Due to the nature of the refund process, these refunds will not be instant, but will be made within 30 days. We are working to expedite that process and will keep customers updated. We are working with our insurance company to develop a definitive timeline and will be in touch as soon as we have more information.
Levitation Fest, scheduled for Friday through Sunday at Carson Creek Ranch, announced late Thursday afternoon that the festival has been canceled. The official statement:
“It is with great sadness that we must report that due to safety concerns regarding dangerous weather, Levitation 2016 has been cancelled. This decision is heartbreaking, but it’s a decision officials have made for the safety of festival attendees, and safety is our first priority. The festival will be issuing refunds for tickets and passes. See the website at levitation-austin.com for more info.”
Scheduled performers included Brian Wilson, Courtney Barnett, the Thurston Moore Band, Lee “Scratch” Perry and dozens of others.
UPDATE: The full statement on the Levitation website, which has been only intermittently accessible since the initial announcement, reads:
Due to safety concerns regarding dangerous weather, Levitation 2016 has been cancelled. This decision is heartbreaking, but it’s a decision officials have made for the safety of festival attendees, and safety is our first priority.
We’ve been working with county officials trying to find a way to carry on, but at this point the decision has been made, and it is beyond our control. The cancellation is due to dangerous weather conditions in the forecast combined with weather complications to the grounds and the Colorado River.
We are completely devastated. We have been working for a year, looking forward to this weekend and seeing you all at the ranch. We know that many of you traveled from far away, and that this news is extremely disappointing for everyone.
At this point, the projected impact of the storms has intensified, and we are now left with no choice but to cancel. You may remember that in 2015 we had severe weather warnings as well, but were able to get through the weekend. The difference between 2015 and 2016 is the severity of the storms being predicted, including high wind, large hail and tornado warnings, combined with high water levels from last week’s flooding.
We have tried every avenue to continue with the festival, and the county has been working with us to find a way, but today at 5:00pm the final decision was made to cancel the festival due to public safety concerns related to severe weather. Following this announcement, the festival has to evacuate the site, meaning that staff and equipment must be loaded out. This leaves us with no opportunity to continue the festival later in the weekend. Even if the weather has improved drastically on Sunday, we would be unable to produce an event at the ranch.
We will be working to keep everyone updated. Please see information on refunds, potential venue shows and other important info below.
sincerely, The Reverberation Appreciation Society and the LEVITATION staff
Plans are apparently in the works to try to relocate some of the performances, per a tweet from the Levitation Twitter account:
We’ll be working around the clock to book as many shows as we can at inside venues in downtown Austin this weekend, so stay tuned.
In its ninth year, the rapidly growing event formerly known as Austin Psych Fest continues to push boundaries beyond what we think of as psychedelic music. Hosted by Austin’s Black Angels, this year’s highly curated lineup includes legends of sonic experimentation (Brian Wilson, Lee “Scratch” Perry) alongside modern musical adventurers (Animal Collective, Flying Lotus).
For years, the festival remained under the radar at home, while attracting significant interest abroad. The percentage of Texans on the ground has grown steadily in recent years (the fest nearly doubled attendance and ticket sales in 2015), but there are still hundreds of music fanatics who travel from around the world to attend. On-site camping is available and two tents in the campground offer special workshops and late night programming for campers.
Australian rocker Courtney Barnett is the big new addition to the Levitation roster with today’s release of daily lineups and single-day tickets, which are now on sale at the festival’s website. The event, formerly known as Psych Fest, runs April 29-May 1 at Carson Creek Ranch.
Other acts added include ’90s oddball rockers Ween; the Arcs, a side-project band of Black Keys mastermind Dan Auerbach; David J & the Gentleman Thieves, featuring the former member of Love & Rockets and Bauhaus; and ethereal French pop act Melody’s Echo Chamber. Notable local additions include Golden Dawn Arkestra, Roger Sellers’ Bayonne and Christian Bland & the Revelators. The handful of new names supplement the longer list of previously announced performers, including Brian Wilson, Animal Collective, Lee Scratch Perry and fest hosts the Black Angels.
Single-day tickets are $75; a pass for all three days is $185. Here’s the day-by-day lineup:
Friday, April 29
SLOWDIVE • FLYING LOTUS • THE ARCS • THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE • NICOLAS JAAR • DUNGEN • ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER • UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS • SHABAZZ PALACES • BOOGARINS • TWIN PEAKS • LA LUZ • PURSON • HOLY WAVE • MILD HIGH CLUB • IMARHAN • HOLY WAVE • WALL OF DEATH • CHRISTIAN BLAND & THE REVELATORS • THE GOLDEN DAWN ARKESTRA • FANTASMES • KLAUS JOHANN GROBE
Saturday, April 30
BRIAN WILSON PERFORMING PET SOUNDS • ANIMAL COLLECTIVE • COURTNEY BARNETT • SLEEP • THE BLACK ANGELS • SUNN O))) • BORIS • THE THURSTON MOORE GROUP • BLACK MOUNTAIN • PARQUET COURTS • WOODS • LEE RANALDO • DAVID J & THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES • HERON OBLIVION • ISRAEL NASH • ASTEROID #4 • NOTS • ULTIMATE PAINTING • BAYONNE • LA MECANICA POPULAR • FEDERALE • KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH • FLAVOR CRYSTALS
Sunday, May 1
WEEN • CARIBOU • SUPER FURRY ANIMALS • LEE SCRATCH PERRY • TY SEGALL & THE MUGGERS • ROYAL TRUX • MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER • ALLAH LAS • KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD • CHICANO BATMAN • THE MURLOCS • DELICATE STEVE • QURAISHI • WALL OF DEATH • MAGIC WANDS • PROMISED LAND SOUND • BLONDI’S SALVATION • JJUUJJUU • CELLAR DOORS
Levitation, the former Austin Psych Fest, has unveiled its full lineup, adding the likes of Royal Trux, Parquet Courts, Slowdive, Shabazz Palaces and Caribou to the festival’s previously announced marquee acts.
Austin psychedelic rock band Black Angels, the originators of the festival, also will once again perform at the three-day event set for April 29-May 1 at Carson Creek Ranch in southeast Austin. Other notable additions include Sonic Youth members Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo (performing separately), Welsh band Super Furry Animals, metal experimentalists Sunn O))) and producers Nicolas Jaar and Oneohtrix Point Never.
They join the nine acts announced in late September: Brian Wilson (performing the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album in its entirety), Animal Collective, Flying Lotus, Lee Scratch Perry, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Sleep, Ty Segall, Black Mountain and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats.
Levitation, which also operates a fall festival in France, has stepped up its international presence as well, adding the likes of Boris (Japan), Imarhan (Mali), Dungen (Sweden), Blondi’s Salvation (France), Fantasmes (Puerto Rico), Boogarins (Brazil) and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (Australia). The festival also made a nod toward local acts with the inclusion of Israel Nash and Bayonne.
“She lives, no fear, doubtless in everything she knows,” Roky Erickson sang out to the thousands gathered at Carson Creek Ranch, as the sounds of chiming guitars and Tommy Hall’s ghostly electric jug surrounded him. And with that, the first proper 13th Floor Elevators performance since the 1960s had begun.
“She Lives (in a Time of Her Own)” was a perfect opening number for a band that, indeed, still lives in a time of its own. That the Elevators managed to transport themselves into the year 2015 for this unlikeliest of all sets at Levitation Fest was a minor miracle. In the end, not even forecasts less than a day out that called for a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms Sunday night were a match for the magic of a 13th Floor Elevators reunion marking the band’s 50th anniversary.
Erickson has performed with increasing frequency in recent years, but Sunday’s show was not only Hall’s first performance in more than 45 years, it marked his first trip back to Texas since then. Imagine the time-warp of a band whose drug associations landed Erickson in jail and pushed Hall to the Bay Area being greeted backstage decades later by an official proclamation from the governor of Texas recognizing the band as innovators of psychedelic music.
Onstage, the Elevators wore their time travel well. Supplementing Erickson, Hall and original-era members Ronnie Leatherman on bass and John Ike Walton on drums were guitarists Fred Mitchum and Eli Southard. (Original guitarist Stacy Sutherland died in 1978.) Roky’s son Jegar Erickson also joined in on harmonica for a few songs. Embedded within the swirling spells of “Slip Inside This House” and the screaming licks of “Fire Engine” was the foundation that nearly every band playing at Levitation Fest has been building upon for five decades since the Elevators’ heyday.
When they played “I’ve Got Levitation,” the song that gave the festival its name, it was a defining moment. But not the only one: Performing on the event’s Reverberation Stage, they also played the song which gave that stage its name, Erickson’s chants of “Reverberation” echoing across the field as cool breezes blew the wisps of misty clouds around on a night that turned out to be perfectly fitting for the music.
A mid-set pairing of more contemplative numbers “Splash 1 (Now I’m Home)” with “The Kingdom of Heaven (Is Within You)” proved revelatory. Erickson’s vocals brought forth the mysticism in lyrics such as the latter song’s “Through the stained glass windows moonlight flashes on the choir” — written by the band’s longtime friend Powell St. John, who was in attendance.
Southard’s considerable guitar contributions stood out on the set-closing “Roller Coaster” as the whole band barreled toward a spectacularly psychedelic finish. Nobody seemed ready to go as the band casually ambled offstage, so they ambled back on for the obvious encore, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” From behind the drums, Walton gave a friendly wave of his cowboy hat as the audience soaked in the final moments of a historic and triumphant reunion.
The Flaming Lips would follow, and later, finally, the rain. But for a glorious hour on Sunday night, everyone at Levitation lived in a time of their own.
1. She Lives (in a Time of Her Own)
2. Fire Engine
4. Tried to Hide
5. Slip Inside This House
6. I’ve Got Levitation
7. Splash 1 (Now I’m Home)
8. The Kingdom of Heaven (Is Within You)
9. Nobody to Love
11. Roller Coaster
12. You’re Gonna Miss Me
“This is the coolest festival in America,” Sean Ono Lennon, Beatles offspring and a formidable guitarist in his own right, said at the top of his band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger’s, 5:45 p.m. set on the main stage at Levitation on Sunday. He added that he was “so (expletive) psyched to be playing with the 13th Floor Elevators,” the seminal Austin psych rock band scheduled to reunite on the same stage a few hours later. Lennon proceeded to throw down an impressive display of searing guitar work complemented by melodic bass lines from Charlotte Kemp Muhl, his partner in fuzzy rock.
The sense that there’s something special about Levitation, the festival formerly known as Austin Psych Fest, was pervasive on the grounds Sunday afternoon where a laid back crowd took in reverb-heavy tunes. In the heat of the afternoon, some clustered in scant patches of shade, under a few of the property’s large trees and in the Levitation Tent. But bands like Samsara Blues Experiment and Paperhead drew good crowds to the outdoor stages. Despite forecasts that set storm chances for Sunday in the 70-100 range, skies remained clear through the afternoon and into the night. Mud that plagued the fest earlier in the weekend had hardened into uneven scalloped patches scattered around the festival grounds.
“All the weather channels have been wrong,” Black Angels frontman and Levitation co-founder Alex Maas said earlier in the afternoon, sitting in a production trailer with fellow fest co-founder Rob Fitzpatrick and Transmission Entertainment general manager Bobby Garza. Though forecasts all week threatened “pretty dire weather” the only significant hiccup for the fest happened right as gates were scheduled to open on Friday. A thunderstorm forced the festival to delay gate time by roughly 30 minutes and then stagger entry for the folks who sheltered at tents near the entrance way. The accompanying downpour on already saturated earth turned the grounds into a muddy mess for the first few days, but the challenge of trudging through didn’t seem to dampen spirits of music fans.
“A lot of the people who come to this festival are regular festival goers,” Maas said. “They’ve been to Glastonbury, Leeds where they have 100 times more rain than we did.”
The larger weather problems for the festival happened earlier in the week when record rainfalls on Tuesday flooded the riverside amphitheater stage which has been a centerpiece of the event since it moved to Carson Creek Ranch three years ago. With the threat of additional flooding and the land by the river unable to sustain the weight of the stage, fest organizers were suddenly forced to rethink the layout for the entire grounds plan.
“We had worked for a whole year and really intensely for like six months on our ideal layout and really making this place our full vision,” Fitzpatrick said. “We didn’t get to do that this year which was really disappointing, but having Transmission on board enabled us, honestly, to be able to still pull it off.” This is the first year the festival was co-produced by Transmission Entertainment.
Though significantly less scenic, the makeshift site plan worked, but with the stages forced closer together sound bleed was a bigger issue than it has been in past years. On Friday, the other big issues the fest faced were parking and transportation. This year, Levitation booked bigger headliners who drew bigger crowds. With only one exit onto a single lane country road, fest-goers were trapped in gridlock traffic leaving after Tame Impala’s headline set on Friday night.
The situation was worse for those relying on the festival’s shuttle service to get home. Shuttles were supposed to run at regular intervals until 3 a.m. but before they hit the cutoff “one of them was broken down, one was stuck in mud and on top of that the parking situation just made it impossible for the other shuttles to get in,” Fitzpatrick said. Roughly 150 fest-goers were trapped at the fest and miscommunication between fest organizers and the shuttle service, run by a third party contractor, left it unclear the shuttles weren’t coming until five in the morning.
At that point festival staff went into triage mode. “Can we find a charter that we can hire? Can we find a van pool that we can hire? And we were just coming up zeros because it was 5 o’clock in the morning on Saturday,” Garza said. Eventually staffers reached out to every cab company with a real person working dispatch. Ferrying guests out in cabs they managed to clear the grounds 20-30 minutes.
The parking lot situation was smoother on Saturday when crowd exits tapered more and no major shuttle problems were reported, but Fitzpatrick said shuttle problems will be addressed in the festival postmortem. “It’s something we’re going to try to really get ahead of next year,” he said.
Though the biggest crowds of the weekend were projected for Sunday when presale tickets topped 8,000, organizers felt confident staggered exits would mitigate traffic troubles. Though a good portion of the crowd will stick around for popular headliners the Flaming Lips, for many, the 13th Floor Elevators reunion is he night’s highlight. For the Black Angels, in a once-in-a-lifetime experience, scheduled to open for the highly influential band, that was certainly the case. ” We’re all really excited,” Maas said.