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« Photos/Review: Levitation Festival in Chicago@Thalia Hall 3/13/15 Thaw Out with Exclusive Video from JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound »

Classical Sun Mar 15 2015

Photos/Review: Levitation Festival in Chicago@Thalia Hall 3/14/15

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It was another amazing day at Levitation Festival in Chicago. It's easy to love a city that can show it's love for great music in a wide stretching genre with such a stellar two day festival, even if our winters are pretty unbearable!


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Four piece Brooklyn based Christines possessed the kind of fuzz that nostalgically recalled the mid 90s alternate rock in the best of ways with a slightly washed out sound but some impressive energy in terms of the guitar playing especially and the way the chords of the two guitarists worked together. Lead singer, Andrew Burr played with a whammy bar in his hands the whole time like Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine but the shoegaze elements were only minimal at least in this live set.

Vision Fortune

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Two piece London based Vision Fortune was the closest the festival came to gothy synth pop. Creating a clear mood with strobes, the duo used both guitar, synthesizer, and vocals to fill in the auditory space and make Thalia Hall feel a bit like a dark rave.

Heat Leisure
featuring Merry Prankster Ken Babbs

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Ken Babbs makes me think of if you took a raw charged psychedelic Lee Hazlewood who had grown just a little tired of Trouble the Lonesome Town and has tinges of metal rare and wanting to perhaps save some people in the universe while he's at it too. At the same time, 3/4ths of Babbs's backing band seemed like it could have been comprised of triplet cousins of Will Oldham. The double drumming added a great intensity to the set as well!

Oren Ambarchi

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Performing a short yet fulfilling experimental music set, Ambarchi's music had both creativity and heft. It seemed fitting he would play in front of projections recalling different wavelengths. His samples worked well with his guitar playing to conjure up a range of sounds from smothered heart beats to furious violins and perhaps everything else in between.


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From a strange and distant galaxy far away came Lumerians. The four piece emerged cloaked in shimmering robes and hoods with masks that had lights for eyes. On the whole, their music may have been pretty standard sounding for a psychedelic band with keyboards, bass, drums, and guitar but the spacey effects they added to all of their songs made for more of an out of this world experience. It was also awesome to see Viet Cong rocking out to Lumerians right up in front.

Atlas Sound

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One never knows what to expect from a solo Bradford Cox performance. This photo/reviewer has seen Atlas Sound sets where Cox played more acoustic guitar even and this set was far more interesting. Even though Cox's more well known band Deerhunter has a more consistent (and also fantastic) output, you have to admire Cox for trying out different sounds on his own and pushing his musical boundaries. In terms of his set at Levitation Fest, the beats themselves weren't as unpredictable as the random samples and the echoes and repetitive vocals brought about a rather trance like effect. Bradford seemed to be testing out almost all new material and the crowd took his set well, especially when he hypnotically ended a song about not wanting to die alone.


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It's really impressive that Austin Psych Fest featured International headliners both nights and that, this night in particular, they were able to book a band who is one of the pioneers of the shoegaze movement. Swervedriver have always had more of a punch than many bands of this genre and their aggressive side seemed to be winning fans over. It was really nice to see so many people up front emphatically singing along with their favorite songs. Adam Franklin's voice has held up well over the years and, of course, the pedal effects never seem to lose their appeal in helping make the songs all the more glorious. Mick Quinn of Supergrass fame also joined the band on bass and backup vocals. Thalia Hall's fantastic sound definitely helped not only Swervedriver but many other bands this weekend and helped make the festival overall a great one to attend. Hopefully, this Austin Psych Fest Levitation showcase will become an annual festival!

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SonicRyan / March 17, 2015 1:02 AM

Nice pics! It's especially nice to finally see some clear photos of Lumerians. Personally, I thought they were the best band from both nights.

RM / March 18, 2015 9:27 PM

I've been a huge Swervedriver fan since the '90s, saw them at Metro back in '98. Although it definitely was a thrill to see them at my first Thalia Hall show, I just can't get the Lumerians' set out of my mind. The whole evening was fantastic, I wish I could have gone to the Friday show as well!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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