Friday, September 16, 2016

The Highest Priest: Go See Texas Psych-Rock Luminary Roky Erickson at Paper Tiger

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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When folks write about Roky Erickson, they love to call him the "high priest" of psych-rock. This is, to be sure, an example of critical myth-making at its finest, but there's a lot of truth to unpack here too. The double-meaning, for one, is spot on: Erickson certainly has taught generations of headtrippers to get high as fuck (on various substances and on sticky, wild garage rock), and, in terms of legacy, the man who brought us The 13th Floor Elevators way back in 1965 is unquestionably high on the pyramid of American rock royalty. His life story, riddled with episodes of mental illness, legal trouble, and health problems, but chalk full of the glorious lightning of musical alchemy, is the stuff of legend, indicative of a true seeker who has struggled through his hardships with the aid of his humor and his persistent creative itch.

In terms of Roky's priesthood, it's not too hard to identify his flock. The consummate Austinite before such a phrase conjured images of insufferable frat bros in flip-flops, Erickson represents the wild heart of Texas, and his devotees, whether leftover from the hippie days or picked up somewhere along the proverbial dusty road to nowhere, are legion. But, that's not all. Priest Roky, like any true spiritual leader, doesn't just give his followers something to do and something to believe in, but he stirs the mystical fire within them, he begs the deep dive into the mysteries of self and reality, and he answers questions that assume certainty with riddles that confound. 

Erickson has been playing with increasing frequency these days and this marks the second time that the mind-melting rock guru has descended upon Paper Tiger. If you missed him the first time, which marked the venue's opening weekend, then this is your pilgrimage to make. In the live setting, the man is a psych-savage, a prime activator of cosmic visions of beautiful chaos, inciting madness and exploding your consciousness with an all out assault. Longtime congregants and new converts alike can expect a dizzying show that features music from throughout Erickson's fifty year career.

Roky Erickson feat Los #3 Dinners, Sunjammer
$20, Sat, Sept 17, 8:00pm, Paper Tiger, 2410 N St Mary's St, papertigersa.com.

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