Spread out across four days and four venues, the second annual Levitation Vancouver music festival went down this past weekend celebrating a wide range of international and local artists with an experimental and/or psychedelic edge.
With the primary shows originally scheduled at the all ages Malkin Bowl being moved last minute to the Commodore Ballroom, a 19+ venue, attendees under the age of majority were unfortunately unable to attend the festival.
Although major artists Tycho and Flying Lotus were set to headline Levitation Vancouver this year, the arguably more interesting performances remained in the undercard with some of the best sets coming from Fidlar and Thee Oh Sees.
Initiated by a sharp wail from Fidlar’s lead singer and rhythmic guitar Zac Carper, the first four rows of the crowd went into a full on rage as the band dove into their first song. Accompanied by Elvis Kuehn’s crackling lead guitar and vocals, Brandon Schwartzel’s bass and backing vocals, and Max Huehn’s high intensity drums, the LA-based garage punk band brought everything they had to the stage that night.
A highlight from their set was when Carper asked everyone on the floor to sit down before playing their final song of the night, “Cocaine” from their 2013 self titled album. Packed like sardines, the crowd waited patiently for their cue, eventually leaping to their feet with explosive energy as the band arrived at the chorus of the popular single.
Thee Oh See’s, hailing from San Francisco, was another garage rock band that stole the spotlight on day two of Levitation Vancouver. Featuring a unique stage set up with John Dwyer on vocals and guitar, Tim Hellman on bass, and both Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon on drums, the show was impressive to experience in person.
Dwyer himself is in a league of his own; a personified blend of unbridled energy, falsetto yelps, and squealing lead guitar. Moutinho and Rincon, both on individual drum sets, moved in perfect unison creating a rhythmic wall of sound laying down the foundation for each track.
Even though both Tycho and Flying Lotus don’t have any new material out at the moment, their performances were still noteworthy and employed distinct and immersive visuals throughout. Working as a professional photographer and graphic designer in addition to his music career, Tycho employed a massive LED screen to backlight his live band with gorgeous visual landscapes and textures while they performing tracks from his last two records Dive and Awake.
Flying Lotus, essentially performing a DJ set, also used a large LED wall behind him as well as a sheer screen in front where he layered projections to add a 3D effect to his performance. Weaving some of his original material in with samples of funk, rap, and drum and bass, fans were treated to a beautifully cohesive audio-visual set that only Flying Lotus himself would be able to pull off.
With the disadvantage of an arguably weaker lineup that lacked a stronger representation of psych rock compared to last year, festival goers seemed enthusiastic with how the weekend rolled out and enjoyed the shows that they attended. Mostly due to a weaker Canadian dollar, local music festivals have been experiencing difficulties in bookings lineups that compete with the rest of the country.
Overall, Levitation Vancouver brought a welcomed mix of genres into the local market last weekend and we’re looking already looking forward to see what they will bring to us next year.
The Levitation Vancouver main events were held at the Commodore Ballroom on June 17 and 18.