Fort Worth’s Psychedelic Panther Music Festival wants to blow your mind

A member of Secrecies sings while playing a keyboard, with a panther's head on the wall behind them.

Secrecies performs at the inaugural Psychedelic Panther Fest in 2022.
Photo: Jessica Waffles

The late author and pioneer of gonzo journalism Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Thompson wasn’t talking about Fort Worth’s Psychedelic Panther Music Festival, of course, but to hear festival organizer Joe Guzman, the line is one the event might consider adopting as an unofficial slogan.

“It’s really just about creating an altered state — creating or reaching towards a transmissible stage through music,” Guzman said in a recent conversation. “That’s what [the word ‘psychedelic’] means to me.”

The second annual Psychedelic Panther Music Festival will spread its mind-altering vibes across two days this weekend — April 7 and 8 — at Lola’s Fort Worth. The line-up is full of psychedelic and, in Guzman’s description, “psychedelic-adjacent” acts like Sunbuzzed, Phantomelo, Mean Motor Scooter, Secrecies, Only Ever and Lorelei K.

Attendees can buy either single-day passes for Friday or Saturday, or buy a two-day pass covering admission for both days.

In addition to the bands performing indoors and outdoors at Lola’s, there will also be local artists and other vendors on-site, offering up — presumably — psychedelic and “psychedelic-adjacent” wares.

“I did a lot of research before even reaching out [to bands] for Psychedelic Panther,” Guzman said. “I was doing a lot of research about [artist] Brion Gysin and the Dreamachine [described as a stroboscopic flickering light art device producing eidetic visual stimuli] … he was trying to deliberately put people in a transcendent state using color and sounds.”

Guzman has his Gysin in the form of James Benjamin Maker — whom Guzman describes as “a painter of light” — who will project visuals onto installations during the musical performances.

By rooting the Psychedelic Panther Music Festival in the history of not only the sounds but also the art and science behind working to transcend the self, there’s a heady whiff of academia underpinning the freewheeling good times.

For all Guzman has orchestrated in two short years, he’s also got an eye on what comes next — as well as refining what works, and what doesn’t, in the intervening months between festivals.

“With every installment I plan to try to get a little closer to the source of the original idea and the original intention,” Guzman said. “I want to keep digging for bands and artists that are very reflective of the concept. I think that’s the goal — and to have a festival that stands on its own reputation, and can bring in an artist that’s very national, and still kind of reflects the theme.”

In other words, Guzman is intent on continuing to make every Psychedelic Panther ticket more than worth the ride.

The 2023 Psychedelic Panther Music Festival at Lola’s Fort Worth. 6 p.m. April 7-8. Tickets are $12-$20.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.