Vancouver has a proud psychedelic music history. If you want to gaze upon some of the best music posters of the 1960s, stop in at Neptoon Records on Main and 20th which is Vancouver's oldest independent records store and a treasure trove of concert memorabilia. You'll see the names of the icons who came through town, but you'll also find handbills for the local bands who played weekly at venues like the Retinal Circus but are largely forgotten due to the difficulty of recording at the time.
Now we have a chance to enjoy the local scene and see bands like Dead Ghosts and The Orange Kyte along with big stars like Flying Lotus, The Growlers and Of Montreal and underground and cult favourites like Thee Oh Sees and future stars like Cherry Glazerr.
In case you don't know, Levitation Vancouver is a two-year-old sister festival to one in Austin, which began life as the fantastic Austin Psych Fest. Levitation Austin was canceled this May due to rain and floods and other crazy weather so Vancouver is a new chance for the festival to shine. Levitation starts on June 16th with an evening show at the Rickshaw Theatre. There are several individual venue shows on Friday and Saturday and bands play all afternoon and evening in Stanley Park (fittingly the site of the Easter Be-In happenings in the late 1960s and 70s) at Malkin Bowl.
Levitation keeps a wide open mind when it comes to genre, which is why they are able to program traditional psych rock bands along with garage rock, punk bands like White Lung and more experimental bands like Shabazz Palaces.
If you want my picks, make sure you see Cherry Glazerr on Sunday afternoon. Songwriter and frontwoman Clementine Creevy is just a year out of high school but is already a multi-talented, charismatic musical genius. I've been listening to her dreamy pop songs since before she even put together a band (try Bloody Bandaid for the early vibe or Nurse Ratched for the more recent noisier songs). Other than bass player Sean Redman, this is a new lineup and I don't quite know what to expect. I know the band has been doing some serious recording so something big will be coming soon. If you like a modern, unique spin on your psych, then get out to see California's enigmatic Morgan Delt. He plays June 18th at the Rickshaw with other great bands Froth and Holy Wave (who play pleasing blissed-out jangly psych pop) and if you have a limited budget this is a good bet because you can buy a single ticket for this show without getting a pass for the main action at Malkin Bowl.
It's two weeks away, so not too soon to start planning. I've just been discovering the minimal hypnotic sounds of Montreal band Suuns and San Francisco's Heron Oblivion, who hearken back to the English acid folk of the 1960s. There are a lot of summer festivals, but none of them will have as much truly excellent music as Levitation!
Newsflash: June 15th. The Levitation main stage has been moved to the Commodore.