Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review & Photos : Zach Hill @ Mohawk

After a lot of shows there's often this buzz of sweet little adjectives and smiles but after Zach Hill ripped apart Mohawk with his 30+ minute performance of "Necromancer", there wasn't quite that sweet sentimentality in the crowd. There was more of a sense of "Oh my god. What the hell was that?". If anyone present at last night's performance ever sees another solo drum performance that tops that one, please let us know because we'd like to hear about it and compare notes.

Hill's performance was so intense that he would at times have to hop up a little bit off his seat to keep up with the pace he was setting for himself, and when he lurched forward it felt as if he was going to be in the crowd at any second. At one point, his feet were pounding the bass drum so fast, they could have easily been confused with his hands. He played to the backing track of Necromancer off his iPod with a little bit of Marnie Stern in there, and he played the song to match the iPod (with varying bits of improvisation here and there I'm sure). The thing that makes this one so special, besides the fact that he's one of the best drummers of our time, is that we don't often get to see someone performing their speciality on their own. Sure, Hill is just as good when he's playing with someone else, but when he's paying by himself, you just get him. The true testament to how hard he played, besides how technically outstanding it was, fell on the amount of perspiration the guy had during his performance. He literally looked like he had just stepped out a swimming pool when he stood up at the end of the performance. (On another note: Hill is such a nice guy. He's intense onstage, but he really is a nice guy)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tonight : Zach Hill @ Mohawk

This is another one of those shows that we have been gearing up for since we first heard about it. Zach Hill is right in the middle of tonight's bill, in between openers Truckasauras and headliners Subtle, but he's the main act in our hearts (aw!). When he's not drumming for Hella, Marnie Stern, or any of the other millions of bands he's in, he's touring on his own, playing one 30 minute song, "Necromancer", and leaving destruction in his wake! We just learned that the show has been moved inside, and that's probably for the best. Doors open at 8 p.m. so this one wont be too late tonight! Oh, and the poster also has The Clouds are Ghosts opening the show, but the site doesn't have Truckasauras playing, so we shall see!

Here's the video for Zach Hill's "Dark Art" from his solo album Astrological Straits:

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Batch of SXSW Bands Is Here!

So we can honestly say that we're excited about a couple of these bands, and maybe you are excited for more than we are, but here they are! SXSW has just given us their early batch of SXSW music performers in a blog post entitled '9 More Reasons to Attend SXSW Music 2009'. Here's the list so you don't have to click on over:
  • Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele
  • St. Vincent
  • Beach House
  • Anni Rossi
  • Future of the Left
  • White Lies
  • Passion Pit
  • B.O.B
  • Sage Francis
Since we're working out of Austin now, we will be posting more and more updates of those confirmed and unconfirmed bands, because speculation is half the fun, right? Anyway, any time we get wind of some new acts, we will post them here so you can do some first-hand speculation of your own. 

Tonight : Gang Gang Dance @ Mohawk

Tonight's show that we're endorsing: Gang Gang Dance @ Mohawk. Things should be fun! Its an early show, with doors at 8 p.m. and a cheap one as well, with tickets at a measly $8.

Review & Photos : Marnie Stern @ Mohawk and Waterloo Records

The facts are simple, Marnie Stern is damn good at what she does, and her live show proves just that. Stern is nearly completely accurate on her guitar playing (when comparing her live performance to the recorded material), and I added the word nearly because I'm sure that there was some slip up in there somewhere, although I couldn't say for sure. Her micro-residency in Austin, which consisted of three shows, two of which we covered but were not able to make it to her surprise Beauty Bar performance, was a needed burst of talent in this city.

At first, I was a little hesitant as to how the show would sound on the inside stage at Mohawk, but the room was a perfect housing for her big sound. It would have been lost outside (and it was too cold) when each note of her guitar playing is as precise as it is. Stern's show at Waterloo Records was probably one of the noisiest they have had and it stopped nearly every casual shopper and forced them to join the actual fans in their head bobbing and smily praises.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Beach House Video : Used to Be

On their newest single, "Used to Be", Beach House finds themselves in familiar territory with their "dreamy" pop music buzzing around your head, but their video for the song is an ultra-polished (the filming not the setting) compliment to the song. The video finds the Baltimore pair brooding in their abandoned hotel accommodations, strolling through the desert, and conversing over a meal, before finally sailing off into the sunset in their convertible. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Broken Social Scene to Play Bass Concert Hall @ UT

Broken Social Scene, that large-numbered troupe of musicality that hasn't been back to the state since 2006, is finally making their way back around to our parts to play Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas. The show won't be taking place until Saturday, January 31, 2009, but you can start purchasing tickets on Friday, November 21 at noon, so start thinking ahead, because I would venture a guess that this one is going to sell out. 

Tonight : Marnie Stern @ Mohawk (inside)

Marnie Stern is gracing the ATX with her presence for the first time since SXSW 2007 (correct me if I'm wrong) with not one, but two shows on consecutive days. That doesn't happen often but we are welcoming her micro-residency here in Austin with wide open arms. Ms. Stern will be headlining tonight's indoor festivities at Mohawk, with doors opening at 10-10:30 p.m. (I've seen conflicting times) and the show at 11 p.m. tonight, so it will be a late one! 

Tomorrow, she will be taking to that awkward little stage inside the trendiest record store in town, Waterloo Records, around 5 p.m., so you have ample opportunity to get your dosage of Marnie Stern this week. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ian MacKaye @ St. Edwards

There are those seldom moments in what we do here that are truly unique and could not easily be duplicated. This was one of them. The chance to see someone as prolific as Ian MacKaye, the driving force behind iconic bands like Minor Threat, Teen Idles, Fugazi and founder of Dischord Records, does not come along often and in hindsight, is such a gift.

MacKaye took about two hours to field questions from the crowd of over 400 people in Mabee Ballroom on campus at St. Edwards. He is taking time away from Dischord and The Evens to tour the country speaking at these Q & A sessions to let fans have a "public interview" as he stated. In the days leading up to the engagement, we were a bit weary as to how this thing might actually go. There are always people out there who feel the need to ask questions like "When is such and such band getting back together", but the apprehensions we had were laid to rest when people actually started asking MacKaye questions and he fielded them quite elaborately and with the storytelling prowess of an expert and the openness of a friend.

MacKaye spoke on a range of topics from Straight Edge, the impossibility of a Minor Threat reunion, the internet-based rumor that he had been killed in a car accident, his family's support of his musical career, growing up in D.C. with Henry Rollins, and a number of other things.

Here are just a few of the best things he said or mentioned, from my four and a half pages of notes:
  • On the prospect of a Minor Threat reunion, MacKaye said "Why would you ever want that to happen?" He said that the music they were making at the time was a reflection of the times themselves and it just wouldn't be right to bring it back.
  • He said that he could tell where people were from in the early days of his touring life based on the way they danced and how they dressed, but the advent of MTV really hurt the regionalization of music.
  • His thoughts on file sharing via the internet, "I made music to be heard. Anybody who tries to limit that is wrong."
  • He told the funniest story about a kid who told him caffeine was a drug when he saw MacKaye drinking a Lipton un-sweetened ice tea. He said to the kid, "Fuck yooooou!"
  • He's a big Jimi Hendrix fan and he met someone who saw him play live once and when he asked the guy what it was like he told MacKaye that he couldn't remember because he had taken acid. At that point he said "I never want to forget anything," which is kind of the basis behind his choice to abstain from booze, drugs, and conquest-like sex practices.
  • He spoke the words to Minor Threat's Out of Step like someone would recite poetry and I have to say, it was beautiful.
  • He's never had a contract for any of the bands on Dischord, he's never had a lawyer, and he donated the money he received from Nike as their apology for their Major Threat ad for their skate team's tour to a free concert series in D.C., a senior citizens group, and a rock and roll girl's camp.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Tonight : Ian MacKaye Speaking @ St. Edwards

If you have been waiting to get your ticket to tonight's Ian MacKaye Q&A session at St. Edwards, you've waited too long. We were two of the lucky last 10 to grab tickets this week and they officially ran out of tickets around Wednesday or Thursday. If you weren't able to grab some in time, there will be some limited standing-room for those unfortunate ones. The doors at the Mabee Ballroom in the Robert & Pearle Ragsdale Center at 6:15 p.m. tonight and things are set to start off at 7 p.m., so come early and come with your questions!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tonight : Of Montreal and Icy Demons at Fiesta Gardens

Tonight in Austin is going to be a weird one. First, Of Montreal and Icy Demons are playing together in Austin, which isn't weird right off the bat but if you've seen Of Montreal live, you know that the band will be delivering their usual brand of unusualness. If you've seen pictures or even their live show recently, you know there is a slight chance that there may be a horse on stage at one point. Anyway, The band has (or someone representing them) chosen to play a virtually unmentioned venue in Austin called Fiesta Gardens (follow the link for more information). The venue is situated right on Lady Bird Lake and appears to be outdoors so the venue could actually be quite the treat for concertgoers tonight (just bring a jacket if it is outside). 

Tickets are $18 and doors open at 6:00 p.m.  Tickets can be purchased from Transmission Entertainment by following the link

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review & Photos : Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008

To sum it up, Fun Fun Fun Fest lived up its name, again, and maybe even more so this time. Last year, the lineup probably had more to offer us as far as coverage and anticipatory excitement, but this year delivered just as much fun as last year did. While we're still coughing up all that dust from Waterloo Park (who knew it could be that bad!), it was well worth it.

-----Day 1----

We were most looking forward to seeing Deerhoof, who played at the end of the day, but we started off the day with their tour mates Experimental Dental School, a band very much in the vein of Deerhoof, but a less polished version.

The day really got started with Hawnay Troof's performance. We were going to catch him a few weeks back, but missed it and its a good thing we did. This performance was probably one of his best and it was a good introduction to his live show. He was hopping all over the stage, just him and his microphone, looking dapper as anyone in his thrift-store suit. He climbed the scaffolding of the stage and made everyone sing along with him, even though I can confidently say that none of the crowd really knew his music. He changed his suit, right there on stage, and had no qualms about it, which make me admire the man even more. He paused midway through his set to tell a story about the mishaps of the past month or so in his touring life, which were nothing short of hilarity.

We caught a bit of Bishop Allen on our walk across the park and business is usual there.

The next show that really caught our collective eye was Swinging Utters. I think I first heard the band when I was in middle school and lost interest when I grew out of that whole part of my life, but I almost wish I had kept them (and others) around. The thing about that side of the festival is that the people who listen to and stay around for those performances at the "punk/hardcore" stages are really into it, and not afraid to show it, unlike a lot of what goes on with the "indie" fans who politely nod their heads to the music. There isn't anything polite about this side of the park. Swinging Utters are a safer version of the bands who came before them, but they aren't regarded as pussies or anything. To prove it, lead singer Johnny "Peebucks" Bonnel punched himself in the forehead twice (just two times) and he started bleeding. I have a feeling he's done that before...

We've inconveniently missed YACHT every time we might have had the chance to see them, but all that changed on Saturday at Fun Fun Fun Fest. We've met them a couple of times now, but hadn't seen them prior to their performance Saturday afternoon, and like Hawnay Troof, I think this might have been one of their better shows. The crowd was very responsive and receptive which can go either way for a band that doesn't play any instruments (unless you count Jona Bechtolt's laptop). Jonah and his partner Claire L. Evans filled their stage with their awkward yet sincere dance moves and played a lot of new material that sounds like it will be a better version of past material. These two are intensely charismatic and I think there are good things in their future (ha!). They even let us take their picture at the porta-potties. What troopers.

Deerhoof is one of those bands that I have admired from a far for a long time and never had the opportunity to see. The time has finally come and gone and I can't say I wanted anything more from them. The show started off on the right foot with Satomi Satuzaki coming on stage with a huge tiger mask and prancing around to Offend Maggie's Basketball Get Your Groove Back. There wasn't much of an expectation for any material off the bands best (arguably) album Milk Man, but they gave it their all with the album's title track, which features some of the best guitar/drum arrangements on any song ever recorded (pardon my hyperbole). The band cruised through the best material off of Offend Maggie and their performance solidified the opinion that they are one of the best bands of our generation. No doubt.

-----Day 2-----

Those of us with enough hindsight to realize that Day 1 was hard to get through without something to cover one's mouth to protect the lungs from all of the dust Waterloo Park was throwing into the air made sure to bring something for Day 2. I know we've been coughing up dust since the festival came to a close, and the same can be said for countless others.

The start of our day was ushered in by a short set from Kevin Seconds of the semi-legendary punk band 7 Seconds. He's taking a break from his band mates and venturing out on his own. The songs he has written and is consequently playing live are silly, poetic acoustic versions of 7 Seconds songs. There's even one about hipsters playing bike polo on their fixed gear bikes one Sunday afternoon. Seconds has this lisp that can be best described as Daniel Johnston-esque, and it makes his carefree lyrics and singing that more endearing.

After Kevin Seconds, his comrades in the Revival Tour, compromised primarily of Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music, Tim Barry of Avail, and Ben Nicols of Lucero. All three men are in bands that have a good deal of notoriety in their respected spheres, but have joined forces to play each other's music together, and allow the opportunity for the individual men to play solo. There's this "good ol' boy" (not like Joe-the-Plumber, more like Joe-the-Rambler) feel to the music as they have reinterpreted it on stage and that feeling was heightened by due to the fact that they were accompanied by a fiddler, a stand up bassist, and a lap steel player. Their entire set lasted from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. so needless to say, we weren't able to see it all, but what we did see was certainly a treat.

Against Me!'s frontman Tom Gabel, opener on the revival tour, is something else apart from his band mates. His solo recordings have focused more on the political side of things (AM's do as well but this seems a little different) and he is certainly showcasing them on this tour. Apart from the new material, he played wonderful versions of Walking is Still Honest and Joy, both of which he wrote for AM. His solo material, released under the name Heart Burns is still relatively new, yet some of those in the front row and others sprinkled throughout the crowd knew every word. That's what is so endearing about a man like Gabel and a band like AM. They have that core group of fans that is intensely dedicated (we will get to another example in just a minute) and not jaded by music like so many people we tend to see at things like this. Gabel himself is intense while he is onstage and just as humble as could be offstage. Gabel ended his stage, joined on stage by the members of The Revival Tour for Anna is a Stool Pigeon.

After Gabel's set ended, we rushed over to catch Leftover Crack, whose set had already started, play on Stage 3. The crowd was already warmed up and incredibly receptive (as are most dedicated fans of the punk genre). They welcomed the band with their knowledge of the lyrics and their shared sentiments when lead singer Stza would talk about things of the social and political spectrum. The band has not been through these parts since 2004 when their then drummer Brandon Chevalier-Kolling died after the band's show in Dallas at the now-defunct Red Blood Club. The crowd was so anxious to see them since they haven't been here in over four years and it seems that the wait was well worth it. They didn't play songs that weren't known by at least half of the audience and had the crowd pulsing and crowd surfing the entire time. Stza talked a lot of shit, directed at H.R. of Bad Brains (festival headliners) for their now infamous beef with Austin's own Big Boys, and even had a Leftover Crack shirt with lyrics that call of equality of all. (If you want to know more about the beef, hit up Wikipedia)

Islands was our next band to catch and I have to say, they haven't impressed either time we've seen them this year. Maybe its because we have yet to hear their latest release recorded, and just their live interpretations of the material, or maybe its something else. In either case, the band just doesn't seem to live up to the expectations that have been thrust upon them, which I guess is not entirely their fault. Don't get me wrong, their debut album Return to the Sea was one of the best to come out that year, but they haven't capitalized on the true nature of their talent since then. I'm sure their live performances were better when they were supporting that material.

Dallas native Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, has been steadily amassing her fan base ever since the release of her debut album Marry Me and rightfully so. Her live show is not one that disappoints and the record is a genuinely good listen. It has been interesting to see her live show evolve in the four or so times we've been able to catch her in the DFW area, and this was definitely the largest scale of them all. From seeing her solo, to seeing her with the band, and now seeing this show where the production values have increased slightly and she has remained on point.

We managed to keep a low profile throughout the rest of Sunday night, and wound up the festival by catching some of Dr. Octagon/Kool Keith's wackiness. That dude is seriously good at what he does, which is rapping whilst simultaneously being a weirdo.

Anyway, all in all, we had the best time we've had a long time and can't wait until next year's incarnation of the festival. We're already speculating what craziness they will have in store for us, but only time can tell. We would like to thank everyone who put the festival on, from Transmission Entertainment, Austinist, the sponsors, and all of the great blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, and Brooklyn Vegan who have great coverage of the festival on their respective blogs, so go check them out for yourself.

Here's all of our photos from the festival. I would like to have posted them all individually for easy access, but they are in this slideshow, which isn't that hard to navigate.

Review & Photos : Telepathe and Abe Vigoda @ Emo's

Its not often that a bill is full of acts that are genuinely worth seeing, even on their own, independent from an opening slot for a bigger-billed act, but the exception came on Friday (although we weren't able to cover them all) as the Mad Decent tour stopped through town. Brooklynites Telepathe were an amazingly welcome surprise and the sentiment could be felt all throughout the room as a good number of people went from casually tapping their toes to nodding their heads and actually dancing. The duo plus Boy 8-Bit on guitar, played swelling beats and specialized in lilting vocals. They are certainly worth your time.

To put it bluntly, Abe Vigoda was much better this time around. Last time at The Loft in Dallas, the crowd was kind of dead for the whole night even through all of No Age's set and the show just wasn't very fun. This time there were a larger number of people there to see just them and the crowd seemed to be into more this go around. Their mix of surf-inspired guitars and their high doses of West Coast, California inspired tunes were a welcome change from the kind of drudgery you might expect from a band of their nature.

Unfortunately we had to leave early and call it a night due to our early start the next morning for Fun Fun Fun Fest (coverage coming soon, I promise), but we have been told it was quite the evening.

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