Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW Music: In Bad Photos Part 2

Buck 65 closes things out for OSR.

Scroobius Pip brings it, even without Dan Le Sac.


Hamell On Trial.

SXSW Music: In Bad Photos Part 1

The cameras were out for Tori Amos.
Line for Peter Murphy.
Living Things tore it up.
Someone told me that Redd Volkeart used to play for Elvis.
Black Joe Lewis, one of the highlights.

Sorry folks. This camera is the worst: Konica Minolta Dimage X50. Avoid at all costs. The camera phones were taking better photos than this guy.

SXSW Music: Friday & Saturday Report

Well, the train went off the rails and I stopped posting, so here's the catch-up. First Friday:

Caught David Yow (Jesus Lizard) on the street, startled him by running him down and talking to him. Wanted to know if he was playing any more for the fest (he played with the Dicks on Wed.). I was hoping to see a surprise Jesus Lizard performance, but he said he was going home that night. Damn.

Day parties brought Crystal Antlers: good, but not ready for prime time.
Cursive: something is missing, more straightforward, but not as nuanced and interesting.
Hold Steady: I get it now. And Craig Finn looks like he knows he is in the catbird seat. Happy guy, good musicianship. Fun, fun, fun.
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness: Probably better than I give them credit for, but vocals are weak, and I thought I was going to see Explosions in the Sky. Wrong place, wrong time.
Hamell On Trial: Talked to him, asked him how his STL date went on Wednesday. He said the people at the Wedge are nice, hopes they make a go of it, had about 50 people at that show. Was worried that no one would show up for him, but he had a rabid following of about 50 people that gladly sang along and laughed at all his jokes. A highlight, especially the face solo. You heard me right.
Tricky= B.O.R.I.N.G.
DEVO: Good show, fun graphics that were simple but sophisticated at the same time. Full blown show. Thank you.

Crowds becoming overwhelming, feet covered in moleskin, must hold on for one more night. Sounds like fun, right? right!
Echo and the Bunnymen: Eh. Sorry.
Lucero: Better than expected. Would like to see them at a small club some time. They had also partaken in some adult beverages, but held it together.
Monotonix: Broken english, excited fans in front. I was not up front.
Circle Jerks: I felt like I was back at the afternoon punk shows at 1227. Felt good, felt right. good stuff.

On to the Scoot Inn, on the North side of Highway 35, somewhat away from the crazy crowds of 6th street for some hippity hop:
2 Mex: 2 angry, needed better flow.
Scroobius Pip: Talked to him before, Dan Le Sac couldn't make it, back in england sick. He had to scratch Thursday's show with out a turntablist, but now performed a shortened set with beats sent to him DLS. Also had a great story about Dan being attacked at a petting zoo and being quarantined by the U.S. Had the crowd going.
Buck 65: got a chance to talk to him also. Just call me Chatty Cathy. This Canadian follows his own muse, and for someone who doesn't seem to be well-know in the States, he sure had a lot of folks singing along. Must be the Old Skool love I throw his way. Don't you think? No?

Goodbye Austin.
Thanks for another good time.
See you soon?

Pictures coming, maybe later. If any of them are worth a damn. Stupid camera.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SXSW Music: Thursday Report

Started off the day with Chuy's mexican food on the way out to Barton Springs, and then walked around the botanical gardens, which were nicer than expected. Then it was on to 6th Street.

First up were the Living Things, a rock quartet from our very own St. Louis. They brought the full-on rock show, wearing leather in the hot afternoon, all in black, and were extremely entertaining. The singer's moves were very reminiscent of a young, fully charged Mick Jagger, and I can think of worst performers to crib from. Complaining about taxes and bail-outs, he lit a dollar bill right in front of me, burning it down to a little nub.
After what seemed like 20 hours waiting in line at Elysium for the Peter Murphy show we did indeed get in and saw a good set from this somewhat legendary ex-Bauhaus singer. He played mostly newer stuff and was definitely comfortable in his skin. A little too dramatic for the close quarters, he was like a goth Neil Diamond. Of course, Neil is pretty goth, if you think about it...
Worried that we would not get into the Tori Amos show, we started heading that way, stopping in to see part of the Jimmy Vaughn tribute to Doug Sahm set. Good stuff, and in keeping with my goal to see more local music on this trip.
Surprisingly, we got in easily to the Tori Amos set. She played to a rapt crowd. She's good, she's is good to watch, and I'm glad I saw her, but she is not perhaps my cup of tea. Sorry Tori.
More my speed was the wonderful set by Amanda Palmer at the Central Presbyterian Church. What a beautiful venue to listen to music. This audience was also held silent by and artist that is obviously adored by her fans. Amanda came out and sang a capella, filling the church with her strong voice and then sat down and accompanied herself on the piano. I would say that I like her new solo work better in this more unadorned approach. Sorry Ben Folds, I think you either over-produced "Who Killed Amanda Palmer", or did not produce it to my liking.
Dinosaur Jr. sounded fine instrumentally, J's voice was weak, which it admittedly is also recorded, but it seems to work better in that setting. And it was late. So we left.

And thus ended another SXSW day. For me, at least.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SXSW Music: Wednesday Report

SXSW Old Skool Rules:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Don't worry about the other 6 bands that you want to see at this exact time. Enjoy the moment and where you are at.
3. If there is a place to sit, then sit.

Here are some quick mini-reviews of some of the bands seen on Wednesday night.
We started off the day with some Stubbs BBQ, and then ended up at the Radio Room, one of those clubs that spring up just for the fest, in the emptiness of some defunct club.
Heartless bastards are better than average, with a strong female singer, and tight band.
Lonely Dear tried to get the crowd chanting right out of the gate, and it didn't work. You have to win us over first, or you may end up looking the fool. Jaunty, did not likee.
Black Joe Lewis, who I had seen before, was even better than I remembered. Tight, fun musicians, all young, a three-piece horn section, some call and response. A soulful set enjoyed by all. They should open up for Sharon Jones, especially since she dances like Tina Turner and he bears a more than passing resemblance to Ike Turner. Just sayin'.
Justin Townes Earle was OK, in the vein of Hank Williams vocally, musically had a bit of a bluegrass bent.

Went to the Austin Music Hall to hear some music, caught some talking and performances, and missed an opportunity to talk to David Yow (Jesus Lizard) as he walked right by us. The old brain wasn't processing fast enough to realize I was missing out until after he was gone.

Warren Hood was at Antone's and his band had a bit of an old-time grand Ole Opry feel to them, very well done, and some nice musicianship.
Next on the bill was Redd Volkaert. Santa Claus + plumber + bulldog + shit-hot country blues licks= awesome.

Back to Stubbs, for the meat of the action. After getting in surprisingly quickly, we saw the Heartless Bastards agian. Still good, even more Rock with the big sound system, but I do think I've seen them enough for a while.
The Avett Brothers came out to an unforgiving mix and were, for this reason and others, alternately bad and awesome. It felt like they felt the need to rock out as much as possible to over-compensate for the large venue. They succeeded only when they let the melodies get quieter and heart-felt.
The Decemberists play what they want, nd have no need to over-compensate in any way. The new release, which they played in it's entirety, was even more prog rock, and bigger than anything they have done to date. All indications say it's a monster, and they were a joy to watch.

Tired beyond belief, it was good to leave them to be united with my sleep number bed. I tried 80, and slept like a rock.

No pictures, because some yayhoo brought his camera, but no way to connect it to his computer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Chuck Mead

Chuck Mead is the founder of BR5-49. It seems that they are on hiatus and/or defunct, so he will be playing the festival as Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys. I've seen BR5-49 a few times, and they always put on a fun show. The last time I saw them was at Antone's after Chris Scruggs had come in to replace Gary Bennett. We were right next to Chuck and his clear guitar style sounded very good indeed.

And to make this come full circle, the FIRST time I saw the Avett Brothers, who I will hopefully see on Wednesday night, was when they opened up for BR5-49 at Off Broadway here in St Louis.

Chuck's new release comes out on 5/12/09. Here's the first video single from it, "I Wish It Was Friday":

He'll be playing here for SXSW:
Thursday, March 19 3:00 p.m.
Jovita's (1617 S. 1st St)

Thursday, March 19 7:00 p.m.
Mother Egan's (715 W 6th St)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Ida Maria

I first heard "I like you so much better when you're naked" a few months ago. It's a fun blast of pop-punk from the Norwegian, one that I never thought I would be able to see/hear live, but that is one of the wonders of South By Southwest, artists from all over the world all in one city in Texas. Ida Maria has won the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy for "best new artist" and seems to be building up some European buzz. Sometimes that translates to buzz here in the states, other times an artist has a whole successful career there, while struggling to fill small clubs in the vast U.S--. I'm no Nostradamus, so no predictions. But I do like what I hear:

Unfortunately, "So much better when you're naked" has the embedding disabled. If you would like to watch, go here.

SXSW Info:
Wednesday, March 18 1:00 a.m.
Buffalo Billiards (201 E 6th St)

Thursday, March 19 12:45 a.m.
Maggie Mae's (323 E 6th St)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: More Day Show Posters

How old skool am I? Well, I remember being at Stubbs when it first opened, sitting on the sod(!!), watching Wayne "the train" Hancock with about 20 other people on a Wednesday night. Must have been 1995. And I'll tell ya, you young whippersnappers, there weren't any of these day parties that are all the rage nowadays.

Enjoy some more posters to keep you up to date with these new-fangled goings-ons. Which I think are great. But it is amazing how these things have escalated. Can you imagine having to work at one of these clubs, or to manage it? From noon until 2 AM each day, and then back again. I take my hat off to all the people who work this festival to make it a success. Thank you.

Here's one from Mr. Hancock. He's not playing SXSW this year, but I'll think of him as I'm sandwiched between thousands of industry dudes. His music evokes simpler times that we really can never go back to.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Old Skool Schedule

Thanks to SCHED, here's the tentative line-up. I'm already tired and happy.

All schedules are subject to change, based upon the whims of Old Skool and O.S. Jeff. Also subject to food breaks and sanity siestas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Eugene Mirman

Hey, a big part of SXSW is going with the flow, and trying to experience as many new, cool things as possible. I also think, that since it has progressively gotten more and more crowded, the best way to make things work is to zig when everyone else is zagging.

So, I've never gone to see comedy at the fest, and I have heard a lot about Eugene Mirman. And he is playing a shitload of shows, so I'm adding him to the list. Here he is, talking about himself in his official bio:

Brooklyn resident (and Russian immigrant) Eugene Mirman is a really great guy and comedian. After escaping the clutches of communism, he grew up in Lexington, MA (where the American revolution began through no fault of Eugene’s). He attended Hampshire College and designed his own major of Comedy — doing a onehour standup act as his thesis. People made fun of him for it, because they were majoring in practical things, like playwriting and semiotics.

Since college, Mr. Eugene Mirman has appeared on television, which is still a relevant medium for another few years. Some examples include: his own half hour special on Comedy Central, appearances on Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly, a recurring role on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, MTV, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Home Movies, Lucy, Daughter of the Devil and the new Adult Swim live action series Delocated.

There’s lots more, but who cares, right? Are you really going to be any more impressed to find out that Eugene once did one of those crappy VH1 talking heads things, was a suspected arsonist on the hour long drama Third Watch (holy shit! No way!?) or played a spokes-potato on Food Network during potato weekend in 2002? Probably not. But you should know that Pete Townshend (from The Who!) e-mailed Eugene in 2001 to say he liked Eugene’s Marvelous Crooning Child. That’s great.

Tue, Mar 17 Eugene Mirman, John Mulaney, and Nick Kroll Emo's, Austin, TX
Wed, Mar 18 SXSW Book Signing 4:15 Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
Fri, Mar 20 SXSW (Wes and Eugene's Cabinet of Wonders) at midnight Maggie Mae's, Austin, TX
Fri, Mar 20 SXSW (10:10pm) Esther's Follies, Austin, TX
Sat, Mar 21 SXSW (9:30pm) Esther's Follies, Austin, TX
Sat, Mar 21 SXSW (10:40pm) Velveeta Room, Austin, TX

He's also touring with Flight of the Conchords:
Tue, Apr 21 Massey Hall, Toronto, ON
Wed, Apr 22 Massey Hall, Toronto, ON
Fri, Apr 24 Fox Theatre , Detroit, MI
Sat, Apr 25 IU Auditorium, Bloomington, IN
Sun, Apr 26 Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI
Tue, Apr 28 Aerie Crown, Chicago, IL
Wed, Apr 29 Aerie Crown, Chicago, IL
Thu, Apr 30 Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO
Sat, May 2 Riverside Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
Sun, May 3 Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN
Tue, May 5 Nokia Theatre, Dallas, TX
Wed, May 6 Jones Hall, Houston, TX
Thu, May 7 Bass Concert Hall, Austin, TX

Monday, March 9, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Amanda Palmer

I've seen the Dresden Dolls at Stubbs at SXSW, and enjoyed them immensely. They always are a fun show.

So seeing Amanda would be interesting indeed. Her punk poetry set to piano music is a slight departure from the more propulsive, more 'rock' of the Dolls. "Who Killed Amanda Palmer", her solo release was produced by Ben Folds. From what I can tell, this will be Amanda solo, just her and a piano.

The location is an interesting one, The Central Presbyterian Church, and home to one of my biggest SXSW disappointments: The insufferable Harry Shearer, who made us watch an endless loop of a commercial for a DVD greatest comedy hit, and then unleashed his trophy wife singer who turned Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" into a cabaret travesty. This whole thing was so self-indulgent that I am angry writing these words right now, thinking about it. Feh.

Amanda promises some guerilla ukulele street performances, also. Here's where she will be for sure:
Thursday, March 19 11:00 p.m.
Central Presbyterian Church (200 E 8th St)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Devo

How can this NOT be on the list? I still remember watching Devo videos on the old Night Flight program on USA, and being freaked out by that big baby with the plastic head, in the playpen. Brrrr. These guys have been around since 1974, 35 years, and they are not a band that comes to your town every year or two. Oh, sure, maybe Coachella, or All Tomorrow's Parties in England, but I don't see St Louis anywhere on their live dates.

Here's what their official site says they've been up to the past few years/decade:

Around this time, Devo's members began to concentrate on other projects. Mark Mothersbaugh moved into composing for commercials and soundtracks, writing theme music for MTV's Liquid Television, Nickelodeon's Rugrats, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and the Jonathan Winters sitcom Davis Rules. He also played keyboards with the Rolling Stones, programmed synthesizers for Sheena Easton, and sang backup with Debbie Harry. Buoyed by this success, Mothersbaugh opened a profitable production company called Mutato Muzika, which employed his fellow Devo bandmates. Gerald Casale, meanwhile, who directed most of the band's videos, directed video clips for the Foo Fighters' "I'll Stick Around" and Soundgarden's "Blow Up the Outside World” among 80 video's in all before moving on to a successful commercial career in 1997.

As Devo's legend grew and other bands acknowledged their influence (Nirvana covered "Turnaround," while "Girl U Want" has been recorded by Soundgarden, Superchunk, and even Robert Palmer), their minimalistic electro-pop was finally given new exposure on four dates of the 1996 Lollapalooza tour, and six dates on the 1997 Lollapalooza tour, both to enthusiastic fan response. That lead to annual touring and other conceptual projects such as a CD-ROM game (The Adventures of the Smart Patrol) and accompanying music soundtrack. 2000 saw the release of a pair of double-disc Devo anthologies: the first was the half-hits/half-rarities Pioneers Who Got Scalped: The Anthology (on Rhino), while the second was the limited-edition mail-order release Recombo DNA (on Rhino's Handmade label), the latter of which was comprised solely of previously unreleased demos.

Today, DEVO COMMUNICATIONS (DEVOCOM), is the umbrella under which Mark and Gerald return to their most conceptual roots as a virtual agency hatching ideas and projects from the ground up demonstrating a devolved slant on contemporary product branding.

Star Clipper and the Atomic Cowboy have both hosted art shows by Mark Mothersbaugh over the past few years in in St Louis, also.

Here is the info for SXSW:
Friday, March 20 12:00 a.m.
Austin Music Hall (208 Nueces St)

Friday, March 6, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Echo And The Bunnymen

How could this not be on the list? These guys have always been huge in England, and a cult favorite from the 80's here in the states. Like the time the Church played at SXSW, I just don't know what to expect as far as a crowd for these guys. It is amazing that one of the shows is at EMO'S, which is tiny, tiny, TINY compared to these guys' supposed big egos. The Bat Bar, with a broadcast on DirectTV makes more sense. But what the heck do I know? Here's the big MTV Alternative Nation hit, Lips Like Sugar:

And here's where/when they will be playing:
Wednesday, March 18 12:30 a.m.
Emo's Main Room (603 Red River St)

Saturday, March 21 5:00 p.m.
SXSW Live (The Bat Bar) Austin Convention Center (500 E Cesar Chavez St)

Saturday, March 21 12:00 a.m.
Rusty Spurs (405 E 7th St)

Dakota Fanning: Singer For The Runaways In New Movie?

This one is too interesting to not post. It seems Dakota Fanning is slated to star in a movie about the Runaways, the 70's all-girl group that were famous for the song "Cherry Bomb" and performing while wearing lingerie, even though they were mere teenagers. The group toured with opening bands such as Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Ramones, and Van Halen in the mid/late 70's and then broke up.

The most famous Runaway is Joan Jett, but most of the other members have achieved some fame after the group broke up in 1978. Lita Ford had some success as a hard rocker in the 80's. Micki Steele went on to join the Bangles. Sandi West, the drummer, unfortunately died of cancer a few years ago.

And Cherie Currie, who Dakota Fanning is supposed to play, went on to still perform sporadically, but also had an acting career and married Robert Hayes, of the movie Airplane fame. It's interesting, because of all the Runaways Cheri was the one that seems, by all accounts, to be the hard-party person of the group. Dakota is 15, and Cherie was just 15 when she joined the runaways. Here's "Cherry Bomb".

Oh, and to keep the SXSW love going, I saw Joan Jett a few years ago at Stubbs as part of the festival, and she was a lot of fun to watch, smiling, enjoying herself. My favorite part was when she pointed to a young lady rocking out on a deck a little above the stage. The girl looked around, mouthed the words "Me?" And Joan smiled, nodded her heard and mouthed "Yeah!" It was rock theatrics 101, but it was real, vs. when Gene Simmons points in a million directions but doesn't see any one of us, just doing his robotic rock move.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: The Avett Brothers

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan of this band. Ragged and raw at times, and other times so beautiful it gives me goosebumps. I am not sure how I feel about them opening up for the Dave Matthews band in the big sheds this summer, but at least they will be exposed to a bigger audience. They have also been invited by the boss himself to contribute a cover song to celebrate Springsteen's new album. It's part of a series called "Hangin' On E Street" and features performances by Pete Yorn, Ted Leo, and Against Me! to name a few. Kinda cool stuff. Here they are performing "Glory Days":

And where will the Avett Brothers be at SXSW? Well, I'm glad you asked:
Wednesday, March 18 11:00 p.m.
Stubb's (801 Red River St)
W/ The Decemberists

3/19/09 Austin, TX
Radio Room - Paste/Brooklyn Vegan SxSW Party
(508 E 6th St)

SXSW Spotlight: More Day Party Options

I state the obvious: You (or I) can not be everywhere, or even at two places at once. Decisions, decisions:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Wanna Go To A Day Party?

EDIT: You can click on each poster to get a better/closer look at the different bands. I'm liking the Asthmatic Kitty poster.

For those that have never been, this should give you a taste:

SXSW Spotlight: Brother Ali

Ah, yes. An albino rapper from Minneapolis. The song "Forest Whitiker" has been a favorite for about 3 years. Autobiographical, honest. It is interesting that some of the best songs written speak the truth about the artist. Here's the song, not a real video, but too good to not post something on it:

And here's another one, called "Take Me Home".

I see Brother Ali's name every once in a while when I am at SXSW. Here's where he'll be this year:

Wednesday, March 18 12:30 a.m.
Back Alley Social (303 W 5th St)

Thursday, March 19 12:00 a.m.
Habana Bar Backyard (708 E 6th St)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Hamell On Trial

Ed Hamell and I have a long SXSW history. Oh, I'm sure he doesn't remember me, but he was one of the first people I met when I went to my first festival. I was waiting for my friend Eric to arrive, back in the day when you could wait right at the gate, and Ed walked up to me: "This the flight from Saint Louis? I'm supposed to meet my friend." I told him it was, we made a couple of minutes of small talk, waiting. He told me that he was back in town after moving to New York, a musician, and I should come by and check him out.

"Yeah," he says, "I got a lot of friends coming by. It'll be wild. You should really come by." I said I would, and then got lost in the maze of music, never even thinking about it again. Soon after, I heard his song "Big As Life" on KDHX. As Anton told me the name of the artist, I realized that I might have missed something better than I had thought.

Next time I saw Ed, it was at (I believe) a record store called Cheapo. It was just a few years ago, probably three. Once again I was in Austin, it was SXSW. This time my friends and I were going to see him perform, even though they weren't sure who he was, they figured I really wanted to see this guy, why not. I felt that I had some unfinished business with Hamell on Trial.

He came out and there was a little kid by his feet. Maybe 4-5 years old. Ed started playing, and then he stopped. It seemed that the kid unnerved him, given that adult language is a regular part of the songs and act. He asked a couple of times if the parents knew that he used some interesting language. They smiled, said it was ok, and then finally he said "Well, OK, fuck it then." And went on to transfix me with his ferocious strumming and machine-gun patter. We went and saw him again that weekend, and his set was largely the same. Didn't matter, though, the first set was a welcome slap upside the head.

He's back again. Maybe we'll run into each other. Here's the schedule:

STL, take note. Here's here first:
Wednesday, March 18
Deluxe, St. Louis, MO

Friday, March 20 8:00 p.m.
Soho Lounge (217 E 6th St)

Monday, March 2, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip

Well, here we are in the month of March. Warm weather is right around the corner, and South By Southwest is coming up on March 18. Since this is my weblog, and I am fortunate to be going to Austin, I thought I would take the next few weeks showcasing some of the acts that I hope to see in Texas, one a day.

First up is Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip. Saw them last time, twice, and thoroughly loved it. The Essex duo have been at it since 2007, and put on a great show. Here are a couple from them:

Here's their SXSW schedule:
Thursday, March 19 11:00 p.m.
Aces Lounge (222 E 6th St)

Saturday, March 21 10:20 p.m.
Scoot Inn (1308 E 4th St)