Alex Maas Goes Solo at Austin Psych Fest 2024

Alex Maas Goes Solo at Austin Psych Fest 2024

May 1, 2024 in Concert Reviews

by dj lemonhead

Alex Maas, predominantly known for fronting psych-rock band The Black Angels, is no stranger to Austin Psych Fest. In fact, the members of The Black Angels are responsible for founding the festival back in 2008. The original festival became Levitation in 2015, but Austin Psych Fest still lives on as a site for genre-defying bands from all over to celebrate Austin’s DIY music scene.

Following Black Angels’ Saturday night headlining slot at Psych Fest, the singer and multi-instrumentalist played the festival’s Janis stage on Sunday afternoon, performing a slate which mostly included songs from his 2020 solo album, Luca.

Alex’s solo music strays from The Black Angels’ style of psychedelic rock. Instead, he creates what could be described as a distorted form of folk music, riddled with existential lyricism, dark instrumentals and a twinge of outlaw spirit.

Dina Zeid- Alex Maas-2.jpg

Photo by Dina Zeid.

In addition to vocals, Alex played guitar and keys, supported by a bassist, guitarist/keyboardist and a drummer. The band’s music was tense and mysterious, sounding almost like it belonged in some kind of sci-fi western like Firefly. This sound was conveyed through the use of organ-like synth, twangy bass lines and distorted, echoey vocals.

Despite the loudness of the band, Alex’s voice was always the star of the show, guiding the audience with his psych-folk storytelling.

The band delivered a pleasant surprise to the audience with a reimagining of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made For Walking.” The cover introduced a much more angsty version of the song, embellished by a heavy bass line and Alex’s hazy vocals. The set had its share of dark themes as well; many of the songs on Luca grapple with themes of a deceitful world and the balance between good and bad. The band's turbulent sound, accented by droning guitar rhythms and jarring bass lines, compliments this theme well.

Dina Zeid- Alex Maas-3.jpeg

Photo by Dina Zeid.

To close out the set, the band shifted gears and performed a more mellowed out indie rock love ballad. The song stood out among others, opening with just Alex’s singing and guitar as he sang “Special.” The backing instruments stayed very simple and toned down, allowing his affectionate lyrics to shine, accented by the jangling of a tambourine.

Alex Maas’ solo set proved that even after 20 years of The Black Angels, he has much more to offer outside of the band creatively. His set at Austin Psych Fest was a display of his expertise, allowing the artist to captivate the audience with his interesting compositions.

All photos thanks to KVRX's Dina Zeid.

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