If ‘psychedelic’ isn’t the first word you’d use to describe Raleigh’s music scene, you’re not alone.
But Daniel and Danny Chavis, members of longtime Raleigh band The Veldt, know better.
“There’s been a steady stream of left-field pop and rock pioneers in North Carolina who haven’t been recognized," Daniel Chavis said. "We’re shining a long overdue spotlight on (them).”
That spotlight comes in the form of the inaugural Triangle Psych Fest, a three-day music festival that kicks off Thursday at three venues in downtown Raleigh. The event will feature 23 acts, art installations and a bazaar for psychedelic fashion, vintage comic books and records.
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While psychedelic music has evolved over time and can be hard to define, the common thread that runs through it all is an otherworldly, dream-like quality that can be expressed in a number of ways. In keeping with this, the organizers cite creative diversity as a goal.
“We want to not focus on what groupings we need to categorize psych rock in,” said organizer Pierce Clawson, who plays in participating band Pretty Odd. “We want to bring all kinds of people out, so a lot of the bands we booked are all really different from each other.”
Triangle Psych Fest is the brainchild of Clawson and the Chavis brothers.
“My dream was to combine the flea market over at the State Fairgrounds, psychedelic rock music, and a bunch of freaky people getting down on the dance floor,” Clawson said.
Daniel Chavis said he and his brother have played psych festivals around the world, especially in Europe.
“And I’m thinking, ‘We should have our own thing in Raleigh,' " he said.
A friend of the Chavis brothers’ connected them to Clawson, who had organized a psychedelic festival in Pittsboro in November 2017. Over conversation at a table in the back corner of The Raleigh Times, Triangle Psych Fest was born.
On Thursday, June 7, Kings will host a Pre-Psych Party featuring five musical acts. The official first day of the festival is Friday, June 8, at Wicked Witch, where there will be multimedia exhibits by avant-garde Raleigh artists, as well as an evening of music headlined by psych-pop band Timothy Eerie.
The festival will conclude Saturday, June 9, at The Pour House, where The Veldt will headline. There also will be vintage and psychedelic merchandise for sale.
Building a community
In working to publicize the psychedelic community, Triangle Psych Fest has also strengthened it, organizers said.
“(Danny and I) used to be really mad at Raleigh, because there was nothing going on; that’s why we moved to New York,” Daniel Chavis said. “But had we been more mature, we would have stayed here and nurtured it.”
Now, the brothers are getting a second chance. Several bands have landed record deals though the connections they’ve made preparing for Psych Fest. The festival is also bridging a generational gap, between older and younger bands.
“All these bands (that Pierce recruited), I would have never tried to get them for this,” Daniel Chavis said. “This is why it’s important to involve younger people.”
The organizers say the reaction leading up to the festival has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We didn’t know people were going to respond to it until it got a little closer, to be honest,” Daniel Chavis said.
“It’s been a word-of-mouth kind of thing,” added Clawson. “People have really spread it.”
Encouraged by the early interest, Clawson and the Chavis brothers are already starting to think about next year.
Their biggest goal: Keep things fresh. The festival might travel around North Carolina. Danny Chavis wants to tap into the Greensboro music scene. Daniel Chavis is toying with changing the name of next year’s festival to “Soulgaze.”
For now though, they’re focused on this weekend, hoping to put on a festival that, as Clawson put it, will “free, blow and expand your mind.”
What: Triangle Psych Fest
When: June 7-9
Where: King's, 14 W. Martin St.; Wicked Witch, 416 W. South St.; The Pour House, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh.
Tickets: $15 to $20 through Eventbrite. Two-day passes available.
Info: A schedule and full list of artists are at facebook.com/trianglepsychfest.