With Levitation Suspended This Year, Monoculture Step Up to Create Dallas' Own Psych Festival

Two years after forming, Monoculture are getting big gigs with artists like Brian Jonestown Massacre. Now they're spearheading Dallas' first psych festival.EXPAND
Two years after forming, Monoculture are getting big gigs with artists like Brian Jonestown Massacre. Now they're spearheading Dallas' first psych festival.
Fela Raymond
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Monoculture drew a small crowd the first time they ever took the stage two years ago, playing mostly to family and friends at The Door. But for the Dallas-based psychedelic rock band, the size of the audience didn’t matter. They were just grateful to be playing.

“Psychedelic rock is essentially just pushing the limits of rock music,” Monoculture drummer Nick Leibold says. “It's about finding different combinations of melody and rhythm that are unheard of, or new and different. It’s the way a surrealist painter might illustrate a normal animal, but with twice as many legs or it's a different color that you're not used to seeing it as. Psych rock artists are doing the same thing with music that is based in rock.”

Last week Monoculture played in front of a few hundred people at Trees, opening for psych rock legends the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

“It was a pretty huge honor to not only play on a stage that we've seen some of our favorite acts play on, but to open for and hang out with a band that's such an influence of mine,” Monoculture frontman Olan Mijina says. “Not to mention Anton [Newcombe] and the crew were really genuine people willing to share advice and give us guidance on how to continue.”

Monoculture is composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Mijana, drummer Leibold, keyboardist John Valentine and bassist Jason Trevino. Since their start, they’ve played at venues across the DFW area as well as shows in Austin and Houston. The band’s rapid growth is in some ways representative of psych rock’s ever-growing music scene in Dallas.

“Whether or not it's popular is irrelevant to us,” Mijana says. "I can't answer with accuracy whether or not psychedelic music is popular because my view of music is so warped to the type of music I listen to. All I can suggest is that maybe psychedelic is more of a buzzword now than it has ever been.”

When Mijana found out that the Austin psych rock festival Levitation is taking a year off in 2017, after it was canceled due to weather last year, he began toying with the idea of Monoculture hosting the first ever psych music festival in Dallas.

Psych rock’s increasing popularity in DFW, along with the void left by Levitation, seemed like the perfect recipe to start a festival in Dallas. As Monoculture began discussing the idea in depth, they realized how feasible it was.

Monoculture opening for Brian Jonestown Massacre at Trees.EXPAND
Monoculture opening for Brian Jonestown Massacre at Trees.
Ellie Alonzo

“We love psychedelic rock, new and old, and we love our city,” Mijana says. “We've seen lots of great local psych bands and thought we should create something to elevate them. In the process, we hope to create an identity and sense of belonging in this community.”

The music festival is dubbed Paisley Maze and will take place on June 3 at Club Dada in Deep Ellum. Joining Monoculture are Acid Carousel, Native Fox, Natural Anthem and Sunbuzzed. And the event won’t just feature music. Efgen Mijana is curating a selection of art from local DFW artists as well. Their work will be on display in a gallery format.

“With Levitation canceled this year, maybe that might entice people who want their psychedelic fix,” Mijana says. “We can't promise the big names. All we can promise is a good show with fun, diverse talent at a great venue in Dada.”

For more information on Paisley Maze and updates to come, visit PaisleyMaze.com.

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