As Austin Psych Fest sprawls across this weekend in the state capital, Houston's own Indian Jewelry help kick off the festivities with an opening-night show at downtown venue the Mohawk. A veritable celebration of the counterculture, the festival is an homage to 1960s psychedelic rock and is quite simply a music gathering both similar to and unlike any others.
According to Indian Jewelry's Tex Kerschen, who fronts the band with his significant other Erika Thrasher, his group is making their fourth appearance in seven years. A festival press release lists the group's many touring incarnations since 2002 as, among others, Hong Kong, the Turquoise Diamonds, Benzene Lotion Rash, the Corpses of Waco, Electric Fuck All, NTX+Electric, and the Perpetual War Party Band
"The festival organizers have been doing it all themselves for years now, cutting out middlemen, working directly with bands, and have succeeded in avoiding a lot of the corporate malarkey and psychic distances that plague music festivals," Kerschen says via email. "And the festival grows and grows. They really love what they love, and they've done a good job moving some of that around."
Unlike other music festivals that rely heavily on corporate sponsorship, APF does not have any. With the United States government recently bailing out music festival sponsor AIG to the tune of $182 billion, it just doesn't seem fair that this one gets none of the money. Then again, maybe the masses will come to appreciate APF's conscientiousness.
Situated on Carson Creek Ranch in far Southeast Austin in the rolling Central Texas hills, the festival officially kicks off Friday. It's the brainchild of Austin psychedelic rockers The Black Angels, whose other extracurricular endeavors include the record label Reverb Appreciation Society, which releases Indian Jewelry's music. To accommodate the throngs of people expected in attendance, deluxe and camping accommodations are available on-site should festivalgoers be seeking them. For Indian Jewelry, playing in Austin is a Texas homecoming of sorts, having recently returned from touring across the pond.
"Europe makes better, cheaper coffee and bread," reports Kerschen of the group's overseas jaunt. "I have family who live over there, and my motivation for agreeing to another European tour may have been different than the rest of the band. I was happily surprised.
"Maybe music is finally catching on in Europe," he adds. "Our shows were better than before. We brought two friends to watch our daughter in addition to the band, so we were rolling with a huge crew, and we only burned through one van's transmission. Blew minds in London and Paris. Dined in the city hall in Wolow, Poland. Did all right in Genoa and Faenza. Paled in comparison with the crowd in Zagreb."
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For those who have never seen them live, Indian Jewelry is notorious for "playing in the dark" and evoking the spirit of artists like '90s experimental percussionist musicians Crash Worship, whose intense live shows literally broke down the proverbial "fourth wall." "When we were starved wild things, we got that comparison a lot: Crash Worship, Butthole Surfers, Swans, White Zombie (but mostly with regard to Erika's hard-to-find rap single)," Kerschen says. "Now we're much older, and we also play for the balcony."
As far as their next Houston gig and the local music scene in general, Kerschen says they plan to set up another show in their hometown soon.
Other than that, he concludes, "there's no such thing as a music scene. Music is just another wonderful thing that gets made by people who don't get paid enough. We've lived in a lot of different cities-- and even loved some of them -- but we've always taken pains to get back home.
"We are a Houston band," he adds. "We pay the price. That's not to say that all bands from a place are one thing or another. Some bands, they pull up to a traffic light and they'll wait all day for it to turn green. Not us, we can wait it out with the best of them, but we'll go on red too..."
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