Published Jun 06, 2015Circuit des Yeux's Haley Fohr was not an imposing figure. She slouched a bit as her guitar hung from her neck, her shoulder-length mop-top mostly obscuring her face as she played. Yet when she played, she was a grounding force. Strumming her overdriven 12-string acoustic with conviction, teasing out distorted rumbles of droning ambience under her forceful chords, her haunting baritone vocals peaked with tortured screams and an almost yodeling vibrato. Her style of goth-folk Americana conjured comparison to a distinctive blend of Nico, Patti Smith, Joan Baez and Chelsea Wolfe.
Unfortunately, the 80-capacity China Cloud space was mostly empty for Fohr's set, and she had a wearisome journey to make it to Levitation, the inaugural joint festival venture of Austin Psych Fest and Timbre Concerts. She had gone from Chicago to Dallas to L.A. to Vancouver that day, maintaining her sanity through a lost luggage scare, flying 14 hours to walk into a living room-like space lined with couches, in front of around a dozen people. That is a weird thing for anyone to do, but if the seemingly introverted performer was out of her comfort zone, she didn't show it. Pulling from obviously complex and profound emotions, she ploughed full-throttle through a set mostly pulled from her fifth album and Thrill Jockey debut, 2015's In Plain Speech.