I’m heading to Nashville, Tennessee next weekend to meet up with two mates of mine from South Carolina for a concert. This will be the third time I’ve caught up with them in the three years since we met, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary – until you look at the chain of events that led to us meeting in the first place…
I was living in Melbourne in 2010, my first year back in Australia after five years in the UK and Germany. I’ve always been into football, but after being completely surrounded by it during my time away, my fanaticism was at its peak. This meant that I was still regularly reading a fan forum of my English club – both for news about the team and the general amusing chat from the supporters.
There was one discussion dedicated to suggesting new music for others to listen to and one forum member in particular seemed to always come up with the goods. One day the signature on one of his posts included an album cover that caught my eye and, due to his track record, I decided to check it out.
The Black Angels had released their first album four years earlier, so I was pretty late to the party, but once I heard Phosphene Dream, I was hooked. I was soon onto their first two albums and everything else they’d done up until that point. This was also the catalyst for me spending an uncountable number of hours researching and listening to as many psych rock bands as I could find…
A few years later, I was in South America without a set date to leave the continent. Due to my interest in psych rock, I had my eye on Austin Psych Fest in Texas, a music festival curated by The Black Angels, but really didn’t think I had enough time to get there. Ten weeks before the festival, I half-jokingly suggested to my mate, Chris back in Tasmania that we should meet there before checking out some other places in the U.S. He agreed, so I booked a flight to Dallas from Cartagena in Colombia for a couple of days before the festival and made sure I got that far north in time!
On the day Chris and I were due to meet in Austin, I was sitting in the hallway of the hostel listening to some music on my laptop. An English
fella psychedelic warrior called Lee walked past and we ended up having a chat as he was heading to the festival as well and unsurprisingly, we had the same taste in music.
Without planning it, we ended up camping right next to each other at the festival and hung out for most of the first day. The next morning was ridiculously hot, so Chris, Lee and I headed for the only tree in the campsite to try and grab some shade…
Having driven sixteen hours from South Carolina, Robert, Blake and Chelle had somehow managed to grab the best spot in the campsite, but they had no problem with us joining them in order to escape the heat before the bands started up for the day. There ended up being at least ten other people under the tree, including Jonny and Karina from California and everyone basically spent the next two days checking out some great bands, sharing music with each other and becoming great friends in the process.
Since then, I have seen everyone at least once a year – in 2014 I met up with Lee, Johnny and Karina back at Austin Psych Fest, and I stayed with Robert, Blake and Chelle in South Carolina, after spending three and a half months in Central America.
Last year I road tripped with Robert and Blake through California and Arizona and we caught up with Chelle, Jonny and Karina in Santa Ana, where we went to another festival. I also met Lee at Reverence Valada in Portugal and then joined him and the rest of the guys I met there at Liverpool Psych Fest six weeks later. Lee had gone to Reverence the year before and told me that it was even better than Austin – he was right.
By chance, we also ran into Tristan and Simone from Melbourne at the festival in Santa Ana – they had lined up with Robert, Blake and Chelle in Austin two years earlier. I didn’t meet them in Austin, even though we would have literally been metres away from each other at some of the shows, but we ended up going to a gig together in Melbourne when I returned to Australia late last year and another in February before I left.
In terms of the rest of this year, I’ve already mentioned seeing Robert and Blake next weekend in Nashville, Lee will be back at Reverence in September and I’m hoping to catch Chelle, Jonny and Karina in the Bay Area at some stage as well…
With all of the great psych rock going around at the moment, I don’t listen to The Black Angels as much as I used to. When I do, however, it reminds me of this strange sequence of events – who would have thought that an album cover in someone’s signature on a football forum would be responsible for shaping three years of travel?!