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Levitation: Christelle Bofale Brings Local Flavor to Levitation

 


If you’ve been plugged into the local Austin music scene, then you’ve heard of Christelle and you’ve witnessed her graceful come-up. She released Swim Team earlier this year and captivated everyone including the folks at Pitchfork who gave her album a glowing review. Since the album’s release in May, she’s toured, headlined her own show, and played fantastic sets alongside locals acts like Calliope Musicals at the Horror Disco this past Halloween, and now Levitation.

 

Bofale opened Thursday evening at Hotel Vegas, managing to facilitate an intimate performance in the midst a large-scale festival. The room was packed but her omnipresent vocals over the resounding chords made the room feel like a private show. Her songs sing of vulnerability and truth, for example, “Love Lived Here Once, speaks the universal language of heartache. Empathy brings us together, and so does Christelle’s smile. Although her songs transport you to emotional landscapes, her joy is grounding.

 

Catch one of her shows when you can. We can’t wait to see what gifts the universe holds for Christelle and her music in the near, near future. If you haven’t listened to Swim Team yet, listen to it and be the first to show your friends.

 

-Mel Green

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NightFire Releases Haunting Single with "Spell On You"

Ambient synths, haunting vocals and an undercurrent of deep house all coalesce in NightFire’s rendition of “(I Put A) Spell On You”. Released right before Halloween, “Spell On You” is a seductive soundscape with entrancing vocals that deftly masks a brooding menace that builds steadily throughout the track. NightFire is the burgeoning bedroom pop project of Houston-based chanteuse, Rebecca Chirich, who began making music in 2014 but only recently began releasing her music. “Spell On You” is the first of a handful of singles that will begin to drop over the next few months, potentially culminating with a NightFire debut album in 2020. Understated and seemingly nonchalant, Chirich has succeeded in creating an alluring aesthetic with NightFire. Her intimate lyrics and pulsing beats are addictive as they are enjoyable.. Keep an eye out for NightFire live shows coming in 2020.

-Lee Ackerley

“Spell On You” is available on Spotify/Google/Apple/Amazon

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Levitation: The Flaming Lips Shower the Crowd With Rainbows at Stubbs

 


Since the Flaming Lips last played in Austin in January, the lead singer Wayne Coyne has become a father. The Flaming Lips played at the Hi, How Are You Festival on January 22, 2019, a tribute for Daniel Johnston’s birthday who passed away in September. The Hi, How Are You Project, inspired by Daniel’s art and struggles with mental health, holds space for conversations about mental health and reducing the stigma of mental illness by doing so.

 

The Flaming Lips drew a crowd of freak folk lovers styled in all fashions. Next to me, a couple with green hair. One said to the other, “See, you can have green hair and still be successful.”

 

The band took the stage, two drummers with green hair, Coyne in a white suit with his black vest/holster and Steve Drozd in a rainbow cape. The set begins with “She Don’t Use Jelly.” With each crest of the melody, confetti cannons release with oversized rainbow balloons. The vaseline chorus and rainbow rain mixing with the real precipitation felt like reality bent Levitation, surrounded by people with green hair, face paints, sequin shoulder pads, capes, berets, tangerines. Meanwhile, a crop-topped man straddling a surfboard of jello shots rides the crowd. They played many of the same songs as they did in January, including the Daniel Johnston cover, “True Love Will Find You in the End.” Since Daniel’s recent passing, one could expect the cover to be melancholy, but, instead, the song rang through as a joyful anthem.

 

As is their staple now, The Flaming Lips toted the huge foil all capital letters 'FUCK YEAH LEVITATION' onto the stage. Coyne threw the letters into the hungry crowd, who disassembled the syntax, and letters surfed through the venue like alphabet soup. Confetti still seemed to trickle from somewhere even though the cannons stopped releasing songs ago. 

 

The encore was a little painful given that Stubbs was sold out, peoples’ bodies are touching, but Wayne rides into the audience on a rainbow unicorn with rainbow angel wings fluttering behind him. The crowd was so dense that event staff had to split the sea of people for his chariot to pass through. I don’t remember the song we sang – edit: it was “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt 1” –  because I was levitating and seeing Wayne levitate on that unicorn, and really everyone levitating at that point even though unicorn took forever to make its dressage through the audience while the synth endlessly looped. What a lovely Levitation Fest.

 

-Mel Green

Photo: Casey Holder

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Levitation: Devendra Banhart Kicks Off Levitation Weekend

 

One of the first acts of the festival, Devandra Banhart christens Levitation and sets the bar high for the weekend. Banhart commands the stage and all the audience’s attention with his charisma, confidence, and contagious mirth. (Shouldn’t Angel Olsen be opening for him?) While singing, he gesticulates and orients his wrist like a “Fancy Man,” and when singing this song he pours himself into microphone like an old crooner. Banhart, full of class and sass, will make you want to have him over for dinner and will make you forget that it’s 40 degrees out and drizzly cold. 

 

“I know it’s hot out there, Austin!” Banhart warms us with laughter,” I know it’s hot out there, but if we play this song well, really well, then in the next two months please go buy someone a pair of socks because people are cold out there.” What a beautiful preface to the following love song, “Shabop Shalom,” from his 2007 album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. They played it really well and if everyone at Stubbs that night could go buy someone a pair of socks, there would be less cold feet in Austin.  Along with “Never Seen Such Good Things” from 2013, Banhart playing songs off his older albums woke dormant parts of my soul. Amazing how music connects us not only to each other but also to our past selves. 

 

Amidst the play and whimsy, Banhart and the band introduced songs from their new album, Ma, with composure and tact. “My Boyfriend’s in the Band” features Banhart’s quintessential code-switching, the lyrics swimming between English and Spanish. The new album enchants with the same spirit at his previous projects. His magnetic presence is as inescapable as ever and amplified by his enduring sound.

 

- Mel Green

 

Photo: Casey Holder

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Thievery Corporation Thaws Austin with Spiritualized Vibes

  Frigid temperatures seeped through the inadequate winter wear of Austinites gathered at Stubbs on Wednesday night. With indoor concerts like Two Door Cinema Club, the Black Keys and Modest Mouse all happening around town on the same night; it wouldn't be illogical to think that music fans might opt for a cozy, comfortable venue in which they could enjoy their beer and music without harsh artic winds blowing around them. Yet the tandem of New York-based party outfit, Brazilian Girls, and the Austin-affiliated eclectic electronica group, Thievery Corporation, would bring a dedicated crowd that mitigated the November frost by manifesting a soulful dance party.

Brazilian Girls' original lead singer, Sabina Sciubba, declined to come on tour; yet her presence was hardly missed since her replacement, Sophia Urista, injected a youthful vigor and smoldering sexuality into the band's dynamic. Gyrating and erupting through the band's staccato hit "Pirates", it became clear that Sophia had no qualms making these songs her own. As the crowd continued to trickle in, Brazilian Girls began to hit the zenith of their set with elongated jams to hits like "Don't Stop" and "Pussy". The festive and tropical stylings of Brazilian Girls served as a perfect preface to the spiritual zionist vibes of Thievery Corporation that would follow.

It has to be a powerful force that can pull Austinites out of their central-heated homes and into freezing temperatures, but Thievery Corporation transcends being 'just another' touring band - they're an immersive experience. While the foundational duo of Thievery was incomplete (Rob Garza was present but not Eric Hilton), the constant stream of featured artists kept the audience fixated on what felt like a variety show stage of incredible talent. A melange of exotic musical influences weave through the band's sound, all tethered together with a streak of elevated consciousness. A bedouin-influenced opener of "Facing East" soon flowed into the latin-styled "Sol Tapado" which then warped into the politically conscious hip-hop track "Culture of Fear". A parade of featured artists emerged on nearly every track: Mr. Lif, LouLou, Puma and the indomitable Raquel Jones. 

The epoch of the show would arrive with the Thievery's mega-hit "Lebanese Blonde", followed by the francophile-disco track "Voyage Libre", which was bookended by the heart-wrenching "Sweet Tides". An intimate acoustic interlude was unexpected but allowed a degree of gravity and introspection that cleansed the palate for the last few songs."Ghettomatrix" and "Richest Man In Babylon" would close out a night of spiritual ebullience. In a time when extremes seem to polarize, strain and distance us - Thievery Corporation brought an atmosphere of benevolence and self-love that warmed every soul bearing the wintry winds of our time.

- Lee Ackerley

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