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How will you haunt Levitation? Costume ideas for the Halloween edition of Austin's psych fest

Levitation host band the Black Angels headline a showcase at Stubb's on Friday.

Beyond ghost stories and fun-size candy, Halloween offers each of us an opportunity to  explore different aspects of ourselves, to become someone else for a night. In the same way, Levitation celebrates artists who explore the far reaches of the musical spectrum and create new sonic worlds in the process. 

The festival, once known as Austin Psych Fest and now presented as a series of individually ticketed showcases, arrives in the Red River Cultural District on Thursday for an extended All Hallow's Eve rich with mystery, fantasy and a few scares along the way. Here are a few highlights complete with spookiness ratings (it is haunting season, after all) and costume suggestions. Detailed schedule information and tickets are available at levitation.fm

Levitation attendees must present a printed copy of a negative PCR COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of the event or a printed copy of proof of vaccination for entry to all events. Masks will be required at indoor shows and in some areas during outdoor events. 

Chicano Batman headlines a showcase at Stubb's on Thursday.

Thursday

Chicano Batman, Crumb, Angelica Garcia at Stubb’s

Fear factor: 4

“The war is here/ Spread by fear/ Mob is ruling/ With senseless killing,” Bardo Martinez sings in a brooding android voice at the top of “Dark Star,” the latest single from L.A. four-piece Chicano Batman. Pretty terrifying stuff, no? But wait, moments later, the voice modulation is off. In a plaintive falsetto, Martinez promises, “I'll knock down the wall now/ This room can't hold it how” over an undulating surfside groove. This is Chicano Batman’s superpower. They speak directly to the ugliness in our world while fortifying our hope that together we will overcome. ($39.50, 6:30 p.m. doors.) 

Suggested costumes: Legacy superheroes reimagined through the lens of your own culture. Bring it, Brazilian Catwoman, Vietnamese Superman and Midwestern Tony Stark.  

Also playing: Fuzz, the Well at Mohawk (sold out); Post Animal, Being Dead, Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, more at Hotel Vegas; The Octopus Project, Deep Time, more at Scholz Garten; Boy Harsher, Drab Majesty, Nation of Language, more at Empire (sold out) 

Friday

The Black Angels, Kikagaku Moyo, A Place to Bury Strangers, more at Stubb’s

Fear factor:

“Rain of Rage,” this year's strange and occasionally ominous collection of instrumentals from Black Angels, is relatively innocuous. But the festival host band built a name for themselves peddling darkness and gritty dissonance. You don’t have to wander far into their catalog — try 2017’s “Death Songs” —  before you hit tales of murder, paranoid night sweats and poisoned water. The lilting psych folk of Kikagaku Moyo is unlikely to inspire terror, but the raging riffs of A Place to Bury Strangers, a band that announces a propensity to commit illicit acts with its name, will leave you reeling in unease. ($45, 5 p.m. doors.)  

Suggested costumes: The dark angel is the easy and obvious choice here, but all manner of underworld creatures would be appropriate. Also, tombstones.

Also playing: La Luz, L.A. Witch, the Paranoyds, more at Hotel Vegas (sold out); George Clanton, Negative Gemini, Magdalena Bay, more at Empire (sold out); Black Midi,  Orange Tree Boys at Mohawk (sold out) 

Yyves Tumor and Its Band play the Mohawk on Saturday night.

Saturday

Yves Tumor and Its Band, Harry Edohoukwa at Mohawk

Fear factor:

Fierce guitars and menacing fuzz frame the emotional excavations from the artist also known as Sean Bowie. The new EP “The Asymptotical World” thrashes even harder than last year’s “Heaven to a Tortured Mind” as it teases out forbidden desires and offers an invitation to embrace your personal demons. On his new track “Zombies,” Austin rapper and singer Edohoukwa confronts metaphorical monsters that can tear a man apart. (Technically sold out, 10:30 p.m.) 

Suggested costumes: David Bowie, Freddy Mercury, Annie Lennox, really any musician who helps you understand the full spectrum of your potential selves. Alternately, zombies.  

Cloud Nothings, Sweeping Promises, Pleasure Venom at Hotel Vegas

Fear factor:

Dylan Baldi’s sincere lyricism explodes into angry howls as bruising guitar licks rumble with pummeling drums on “The Shadow I Remember,” the latest from Cloud Nothings. With bursts of bleakness and creeping regret, you will not be reassured about a stable and happy future for yourself or, you know, humanity in general. Show up early to watch Austin’s Pleasure Venom shout down white supremacy and late-stage-capitalist greed on their blistering single “We Get What You Deserve.” ($25, 9 p.m.)

Suggested costumes: The zombie version of the successful professional your mom wishes you were; the Monopoly man bludgeoned with a meat cleaver; a sexy snake. 

Pakistani singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab plays Scholz Garten on Saturday during Levitation.

Arooj Aftab at Scholz Garten

Fear factor:

You might drift off into a meditative trance as the singer and composer spins her smoky tones through minimal works that evoke faraway worlds, but no real danger lurks here. On the track “Last Night” off her latest collection, “Vulture Prince,” Aftab’s mournful voice breaks from haunting songs that trace her roots back to her native Pakistan to recite in English a love poem from Sufi mystic Rumi. ($29.50, 7 p.m.)

Suggested costumes: A tarot card illustration come to life; mythical birds. 

Also playing: Shannon & the Clams, Levitation Room, Ohmme, more at Empire (early show); Andy Shauf, Sun June at Mohawk (early show); Thundercat, Shabazz Palaces at Stubb’s (sold out); Kikagaku Moyo, Frankie & the Witch Fingers, Holy Wave, more at Empire (sold out); Uniform, Portrayal of Guilt, Body Void at Elysium 

Japanese Breakfast headlines a Halloween showcase at Stubb's on Sunday.

Sunday

Japanese Breakfast, Sasami, Sweet Spirit at Stubb’s

Fear factor:

The scariest thing about this show will be the depth of your own feelings unearthed by Michelle Zauner’s intricate pop. The latest J-Brekkie album “Jubilee” is supposed to be a celebration of joy after years spent grieving the death of her mother, but Zauner has a gift for exposing her own vulnerability in a way that reveals universal truths. The odds of phantom stabs at the heart from broken relationships and lost loved ones are not inconsequential. Singer-songwriter Sasami’s pop confessionals have a similar bent, while Sweet Spirit’s Sabrina Ellis works out emotions with glam-funk bombast. ($37.50, 6:30 p.m.) 

Suggested costumes: Your favorite character from a Studio Ghibli flick; haunted pixies; sushi. 

Golden Dawn Arkestra headlines a two-stage bash at Empire on Sunday.

Golden Dawn Arkestra, Calliope Musicals, Kalu & the Electric Joint, Sailor Poon at Empire

Fear factor:

Real talk: I maybe gave this lineup extra spookiness points because I didn’t want to offend Sailor Poon by implying that they’re harmless. But holy smokes, this is a quintessential Austin Halloween bash anchored by the bawdy all-female art-punk outfit inside and celestial jazz-funk outfit Golden Dawn Arkestra on the outside stage. Show up early to revel in Calliope Musicals’ expansive dance rock, the expressive aural odysseys of Kalu & the Electric Joint, plus Think No Think, Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad and more. ($27.50, 6:30 p.m. doors)

Suggested costumes: Your favorite ancient deity if he/she/they were an intergalactic explorer; a carousel horse; any character from “Alice in Wonderland”; a trash bag mini-dress and red glitter pumps; literally anything.  

Also playing: Frankie & the Witch Fingers, Christian Bland & the Revelators at Hotel Vegas; The Hives, the Mystery Lights at Mohawk (sold out)