We made the pilgrimage to Austin for Psych Fest and were rapidly enamoured with, well, everything. The first morning saw us in the city center, which was immaculate and amply endowed with bars and boutiques, much to our delight. Buildings both commercial and residential were elongated marvels of stone, concrete, steel and wood of many hues and grains. Wandering wide-eyed through this large scale homage to Frank Lloyd Wright we also experienced a strange and pleasant sensation : sunlight.
Shortly thereafter, suffering happily from sensory overload and the effects of excess vitamin D, we made the journey in our rental out to Saltlick BBQ in the foothills for lunch. I always feel that it’s incumbent upon me to push rental vehicles to breaking point, stressing every moving part, electronic component and spotweld if possible – we managed a bone rattling 120 in a Fiat on the German autobahn once, at great expense to Bec’s nerves and my forearms. We hurtled through splendid scrub on winding rural roads and gaggles of greckles, to be eventually greeted by the sweet smell of burning mesquite gently cooking our quarry. When parking at our destination, we made a beeline for the low building most resembling a smokehouse.
The delectable feast consumed, we took flight again, keen to make it in time for kick off at Carson Ranch. Upon arrival at the festival site just north of the airport, we were now greeted by the odor of baked earth and greenery. I was immediately reminded of my time as a ranch hand in Goondiwoondi, Queensland in the mid-nineties. It was a happy period spent largely hacking out boxthorn (Lycium) with a mattock along miles of lonely fenceline in 100+ degree heat. I would also tackle and bring down rams in need of having fly-blown flesh cut out by old Chief, an unpleasant experience for all concerned, to say the least. I digress. With these recollections playing through my mind, we strode through security and confidently handed over our exquisite, commemorative weekend passes for inspection, like two bright eyed schoolchildren on excursion.
A cursory inspection of the venue revealed a magnificent backdrop from the amphitheatre in the form of the Colorado river and treelined banks. Above the river and amphitheatre in the field there were many eclectic stalls, far removed from the main stage in the field center. Alas, a fine beer was not to be had for neither love nor money; no matter. An early highlight was Bass Drum of Death. During their set, Bec used some of the more sensitive areas of her body to locate an ant’s nest whereupon the residents decided to inflict her with painful bites and itchy hives. A trip to the medic was of little help; a request for salve and anti-histamine was met with the response “come back to us if you stop breathing”. Our evening ended with a masterful performance by the Raveonettes. The heavy lunch, sun and cheap lager got the better of us and we couldn’t stay for BRMC sadly, lest we fall asleep and be trampled underfoot in the moshpit. Day one complete and a resounding success apart from incident with nihilist ants, we drove away and retired to our cheap hotel, happy visions of wonderful music, psychedelia and smoked meats dancing in my head.