SXSW Day 1 – Friday 3/8

It’s not officially music SXSW time but there are still plenty of great free shows to try to see already!

I headed downtown to see what kind of trouble I could get into while Rob headed south to Radio Coffee where the folks from Utopia Fest were having a party.

I got into a long line at Antone’s hoping to see Duncan Fellows, Mt. Joy, and Bishop Briggs. Meanwhile, Rob headed downtown to meet me and joined me in line. We decided that it probably wasn’t going to happen for us before Mt. Joy went on, so we bailed out of line and headed toward the Barracuda for another great lineup. This is the #1 lesson for SXSW. If you have a plan, have 2-3 backup plans because sometimes (oftentimes) the line is too long, the traffic is too much, the last band was too good to leave, whatever the problem, you might have to adjust your plans. It’s okay. This is how you end up seeing the best stuff anyway. Go with the flow.

I got to the Barracuda a little before 10pm, just before the line started to build up and made it in time to see a few songs from All Eyes. I don’t know much about this band. They were okay. Honestly, compared to the rest of the night, it was a little unmemorable. They weren’t bad at all, just hard to remember against such a fantastic lineup.

The Moving Panoramas (from Austin) played outside. Being International Women’s Day it was great to finally see a female fronted band. I’ve really enjoyed the songs of theirs I have heard on the radio but the sound was a little off to really do their harmonies and lyrics justice. I am excited to see that this band is “hitting” this year and what they will come away from the sxsw marathon with. I think the festival has a special way of preparing performers to deal with bad sound, shitty schedules, stress, fatigue, you name it. Pay special attention to the bands that rock their 9th sxsw show on the last day, Saturday morning. Those are the professionals with the drive to “make it”.

Star Parks was indoors. I really like this band. They’re Austinites and sound a lot like Dr. Dog and sometimes I hear a little Paul Simon in there. It’s really great and I need more of their music in my life!

Alex Mass from the Black Angels was next. Was that thing a sort of electronic sitar? His music was rock but what was that an electronic/Indian vibe? Yeah, that was fun.

Next up, Smiile. I liked this band. Female harmonies with a lead male vocalist gave this band a similar sound to the Dirty Projectors. Shout out to my new friend Paul from Glasgow. The Baracuda has a sort of pedestal that people can stand on to watch a show. It is black and tucked in the back. However, it was really dark and I didn’t realize how close to the edge I was. As I went off the side, I grabbed Paul, who helped me not face plant into the ground. Thanks for saving my ass Paul. Also, thanks for laughing it off like it was totally normal.

Finally the Golden Dawn Arkestra… the sun worshipers from Austin. The crowd was exactly what you might expect for a 10+ person band of musicians, dancers, and performers. A couple, clearly on something like X was making out in front of us the entire time which actually was less awkward and kinda just fit the vibe. Again, it was a weird and wonderful way to end the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Full Moon Medicine @ The Southern Heights Brewery 02.10.19

The Southern Heights Brewery was a pleasant surprise on a cold and rainy Sunday. They were hosting an artist collective with a local writer, natural stone bolo-ties, vintage clothing, pottery, jewelry, and girl scout cookies. Plus they had a delicious Raspberry Sour on tap. Oh, AND live music!

We were only able to stay for one set, Full Moon Medicine, but really enjoyed it. They were having sound problems. First they were in a warehouse and second the sound board wasn’t really being run by anyone. It was a little bit of a mess but the band pulled through and made some great bluegrass-country-folk music with a banjo, stand-up bass, guitar, drums, and harmonica. I would absolutely try to catch this one again sometime.

Neko Case @ Bass 02/08/19

Neko Case is one of those artists that from first glance looks like she doesn’t give a fuck and has everything. She’s beautiful, her long thin legs stretch out tonight on the Bass Concert Hall stage in black leggings with white leg bones printed exactly where her own are under her skin. Her untamed, wild red hair is down and free. Her voice echos around the hall and the acoustics are perfect.

She seems perfect, yet all you have to do is listen to her to understand that she is like all of us, fragile, fighting to have the courage to be ourselves, to love and be loved. She said out to the audience more than once that she was nervous and working to get her rhythym. You couldn’t tell it though. That’s what makes her so incredible to watch and to listen to. You can feel universal struggle struggle that we all have in every one of her songs. Whether it’s an upbeat song like “I’m a Man” or a slower song like “Calling Cards”, she manages to make me feel like every song has a personal attachment.

The venue (not my favorite in Austin because they love rules for no reason and are very stuffy) was nice but it ate up the opener, Jennifer Castle, who just had an acoustic guitar and harmonica. I would like to see the Toronto based singer in a smaller venue. Her Joni Mitchell-like voice and folksy songs were just too slow and small for the large dark room.

I don’t have photos of the event because they threatened to kick you out if you took any. It didn’t stop the lady sitting next to me from using her flash and shooting video but whatever. Knowing my history, I would have been the one who got caught and I was with my rule-following man.

Check out Neko Case at the NPR Tiny Desk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwRcPEg1MyE

 

Hi, How Are You Day (1.22.19)

http://acl-live.com/calendar/hi-how-are-you-day

I’ve been delayed in writing a review for this shindig but I didn’t want to skip doing so because it was a wonderful night for both music and fundraising. I had the opportunity to volunteer and feel very lucky to lend a hand for a worthy cause. Some of the best music comes from pain and sadness but musicians should be able to afford and have access to mental health services when they are needed. The Hi, How Are You Project seeks to help offer that support.

From the website:

The Hi, How Are You (HHAY) Project was developed to educate people worldwide about the importance of mental health and well-being while promoting a culture of inclusion, HHAY Day features a global fundraising concert hosted at the Austin, Texas, ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The concert features performances by the The Flaming Lips, Built To Spill, Yo La Tengo, The Black Angels, Gavin DeGraw, Bob Mould, The Moth & The Flame, and Bob Schneider. 

One in four adults struggle with mental health. But, it only takes four words, one simple question to let someone know you care: “Hi, How are you?” HHAY Project founders Tom Gimbel and Courtney Blanton were inspired to create HHAY Day by iconic Austin musician and visual artist Daniel Johnston’s famous local mural “Jeramiah the Innocent,” which is painted on the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street. The mural depicts a frog asking the ever-important question – “Hi, how are you?” Johnston has chronicled his struggles with mental health throughout his career.

I know some of you will be disappointed in me when I tell you I didn’t stay for the whole show. My friends who did texted and posted photos saying how great it was. I’m sad I couldn’t stick around but when I left around 11pm, Bob Mould and the Flaming Lips were still due to take the stage and I had to be at work early the next morning. I did get to see Yo La Tengo, Bob Schneider, Build to Spill, Gavin Degraw, and The Black Angels. They were all fantastic, bringing their pain of their own mental health or the loss of ones they loved to the surface through music to help us all deal with this heavy issue.

I especially enjoyed the Yo La Tengo set which seemed to really take the mental health theme to heart when deciding on their set list. My DidWeJam counter-part, Jenn, will be sad to know that our favorite, rode-hard-and-put-away-wet guitarist Brett Nelson who we saw play with Built to Spill in 2012 is no longer a member of the band. He’s been replaced by a tiny, lovely, much healthier looking, excellent female guitarist but I don’t know her name. She did not wear a t-shirt with Mother Earth on it.

Yo La Tengo

Built to Spill

The Black Angels

The Districts with Duncan Fellows & Deeper

My friend bought into a sweet deal offered last year from Margin Walker Presents and gets two tickets to a show each month. This is the one she selected for January and I was the lucky plus one! Thanks Lauren!!!

This was an all ages, sold out show and I knew almost nothing about the band before I went except for a brief listen on Spotify. It was definitely a younger crowd and there was even moshing (that’s what they called it back in my day) during the Duncan Fellows set. I guess you could call moshing, it was more jumping in a group and felt a lot safer and jovial.

Duncan Fellows is a local Austin indie-rock band that I had heard of before but never gave much thought. They had a little radio play on KUTX but it hadn’t caught my attention. I’m glad I was able to catch them open the night up. They were great. In fact, of all three bands, they were my favorite! All of the dudes in the band sang along to the songs, even if they weren’t at a microphone and it gave me the feeling that these dudes really love their music and love being in a band together. They clearly have an Austin following and I am part of the group now too.

Deeper was a band I would not likely see again. It just wasn’t my jam. Honestly, the crowd didn’t seem to dig it as much either. The lead singer would yell all the lyrics rather than sing and it was just a little too hard rock for my liking but hey, if that’s your jam, check ’em out.

The Districts hail from Pennsylvania (Lititz area) and released their first album in 2012. This indie-rock band of dudes were great and provided a fantastic show. I thoroughly appreciated their respectful attire. The lead singer wore khakis with a tucked in shirt and the bassist also tucked his t-shirt into his jeans. Kids these days may be a lot of things but they aren’t sloppy… well, at least some of them were trying anyway.

Glorietta @ Scoot Inn

12/14/18 Austin, TX

This band has so much talent in it that you may have trouble figuring out who exactly is in it. That’s because they are our own Austin Supergroup! Don’t get too excited though, this was their last show… except for a special, secret festival in late March that they may reunite for. Nothing will ever be as good as this show was at the Scoot Inn though. It was like watching friends have a party on stage. It wasn’t like that. It was that.

The band’s music is touching and perfectly executed by this group of cherry picked all-stars. Some of it was original and unfamiliar and some of it was music from their own albums or bands. At one point they played WildChild’s song Expectations. I love Wild Child so it is hard for me to say that this band nailed it in a totally different incredibly tight way. Another highlight was when Jason Robert Blum (who I really didn’t know of before) sang a song about Wimberley, TX. It’s a small, quaint town along a crystal clear river in the Central Texas Hill Country and it was just beautiful. If you are not too concerned about video quality, check out the song here:

Toward the end of the show, “Grammy Award Winning” Adrian Quesada pulls out a bottle of tequila, but not just any bottle, a 3-foot tall, color-changing, light-up gallon of tequila. He said it was a gift from his dad and it has been sitting in his studio for a while. What better time to drink it than now. After a quick admission that Matthew is on the wagon (and stayed on while on stage anyway), the bottle began to be passed around and poured into each others mouths. Then David Ramirez sang Friends in Low Places, after toasting a couple that had just gotten engaged. Austin was loving it’s music that night and I love this music town.

The story they tell is that Matthew Logan Vazques (Delta Spirit) pulled everyone together to make an album in Glorieta, NM. and included Nathaniel Rateliff at the time, but he did’t tour with them. Instead, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Noah Gundersen, Kelsey Wilson (WildChild), David Ramirez, Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma), and Jason Robert Blum took on a one-time-only tour this year. If you saw them, count yourself lucky. This is a fleeting moment and that’s why you always go to the show. I know I am glad I did.

ShinyRibs @ Waterloo Records

12/11/18 Austin, TX

Do you struggle to like holiday tunes? Do you feel like Christmas music is stuck in a misogynistic time warp with songs like “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Santa Baby”? Never fear, ShinyRibs are here!

Re-tooling some old classic (non-holiday) tunes,  the band breathes new holiday life into TLC’s Waterfalls song with the lyrics, Don’t Go Chasing Santa Clause, Please stick to the ribbons and bows that you’re used to. It fits so perfectly you will start to wonder why TLC didn’t write it that way. They played some obscure holiday songs that were not parody and in all, it was not “your fathers holiday music”. It was perfectly shiny and ribby and Kevin Russell may just secretly be Santa Clause.

Go pick up your gift at your favorite music store. (Mine is Waterloo Records, where the band performed.) The ShinyRibs holiday album is available now.

Willie Nelson ACL Taping

11/19/18   Austin, TX

Y’all, Willie is old. He’s 85. He’s ridden this life hard. He’s played that guitar hard. So it wasn’t a big deal when it took him a song or two to warm up. A bit out of tune and a bit out of breath, the legend stood before us and worked his way into a well rehearsed, but never mundane performance, encouraging the audience to sing along. There was more Bob Dylan-like sing-talking than the Willie warble we know and love. Don’t get me wrong, the show was great but time waits for no one. The crowd didn’t seem to notice, and really, I don’t think Willie does half the time he on the stage. It’s his home and I am so grateful to have been able to enjoy the show one more time. We love you Willie!

(Sorry for the delay in posting this. I’ve been slacking on my reviews so I will be posting several this week.)

Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen film)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A22oy8dFjqc

First, watch this video of Freddie Mercury’s performance at LiveAid in 1985.

The movie is fantastic. It captures both the changes of the times and the changes of Queen’s music. There was a time that being gay was scary because not only were you “not normal” but especially if you were a gay man, you had the AIDS virus to fear. Freddie was so ahead of his time and left so tragically. The film is only kinda-sorta accurate in timeline. There are artistic liberties taken for sure.

I grew up in these times. I remember the AIDS quilt and LiveAid. I was youngish but I remember. It was scary. Starving babies with potbellies. Humans dying from an unknown virus and gay being a “horrendous sin”. We’ve come a long way and then I wonder how far we’ve really come with Mexican border camps and the “Just Grab Her Pussy” Administration.

Anyway, the film captures the times really well and tells a good story. There’s more music in the film than I expected! I wanted to stomp during We Will Rock You and wished that I could have been in the audience. This film made me feel like I was at a Queen show. That’s the best compliment I can give!

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