We start the day wandering to the Continental, in an attempt to see the Mojo Nixon Showcase. We figured it'd be packed & it was. Stand around in front for the end of James McMurtry, a pleasing rootsy sound. We stroll on & get some ice cream at Amy's.
4:00 pm - Stopped at Docs', where we heard some slide guitar on the way to the Continental. A band is just setting up so we sit for a while out of the hot sun. The Record Life starts up, pretty bland alterna/emo. Not to our taste.
4:45 pm - an iced latte at Dominican Joe, and a band on the patio, the Monahans. They're rootsy, mellow with excellent vocals. There's 2 drummers, 3 guitars, keyboards & bass. Pleasant & enjoyable. The Grackles (big black birds that are everywhere day & night) chirp, trill & tweet along.
7:00 pm - We attempt to attend one of the big free concerts at the Lakeshores amphitheater, Erykah Badou. We wait in a long line, have out bags inspected, and enter the ground along with about 100,000 others. the stage is 1/2 a mile away, the roadies are still setting up, everything is running way late. We'd like to stay, but we've got other shows to see, so we exit. It reminds me again why I hate large venues like this & really prefer my shows in small clubs up close & personal.
8:00 pm - BBQ dinner at Lamberts, recommended by the food critic of the Austin American Statesman newspaper who we chatted with at one of the shows yesterday. Delicious! Best collard greens I've ever had.
8:45 - we dash over to Emo's main to try & see The Octopus Project. There's a huge line and it's not moving. No way we're getting in. We'll have to wait for their next tour to Boston.
8:50 - we dash around the corner to see Efterklang. Same results as above. We'd been warned this would probably happen on the weekend, but still it's disappointing.
9:00 - we poke our heads into the Radio room patio for Klever, some heavy techno dance beats. At least people are dancing to the grooves.
9:30 - at BD Rileys, we see the end of Broadfield Marchers, tweeish flower pop.
10:00 - Deleted Waveform Gatherings at BD Rileys. Former Dipsomaniacs rock with jangly well crafted power pop, with a big nod to the Kinks.
11:00 - The Morning After Girls at Pangea. We arrive to a huge line. Can't be for them, they're from Melbourne, and their last album is from 2005. So, we walk to the front & flash our badges. The burly bouncers part, the velvet rope opens & in we go-?? upstairs is an exclusive VIP type dance club with red velvet couches, bamboo walls adorned with antlers & masks, and waitresses in tiny black dresses & stillettos delivering bottles of champagne with sparklers stuck on top. It's pretty crowded. We realize that Perry Farrell is playing next & except for 20 of us, everyone else is waiting for that. Morning After Girls are psychedelic in an early Pink Floyd, Amboy Dukes meet Brian Jonestown way. The music is fine, but the strobe lights are getting to me. On the way out I use the rest room. Another woman in tiny black dress turns the sink on for me, squirts the soap onto my hands, and pats my hands dry with a paper towel. I am not going to tip her.
12:00 - Pelican at Emo's Jr. We get in line, and luck out as the last 2 badge holders to get in. Heavy dirge metal meets 90's Sub Pop grunge (think Soundgarden), with long instrumentals that get a bit monotonous. There's lots of 90's Seattle grunge head shaking going on.
1:00 last walk over the Congress St bridge. I am exhausted, brain dead, and rocked out. It's been an adventure & a test of stamina. I could sleep for a week!Day 3, Friday, March 20
Breakfast at 2:00 at the Magnolia cafe. Definitely the rock spot. Excellent - definitely worth the wait. Wandered down S. Congress to check out the daytime free shows. First stop - Guero's Oak Garden, caught some of Superdrag. Power pop with a punky edge at times. also saw Pity Party from LA, Woman drummer/keyboards/vocals, and guy guitar. Very spazzy no wave-ish, with a dash of Sleater-Kinney. Mostly enjoyed people watching, everyone from tattooed bikers to mom & pop with little tykes in tow.
7:30 pm - The Sonics at Emo's Main. Finally run into fellow WMBR DJ Joan Hathaway & husband Mark. Chatting with folks in line, I meet Richard Lynn from local label Super Secret, who recommends a couple of local Austin bands to look for (The Tunnels, the Carrots). Inside, Emo's appears to have formerly been the loading docks to the building next door, so the floor slopes upwards at an odd angle to the stage. It's airless & hot as hell. The Sonics are the godfathers of snotty garage rock, and they can still crank it up, pretty good for a group of guys in their 60's.
9:30 - These Are Powers at Club Deville. Not as fun as last night, maybe the outdoor setting, the poor sound, or the fact that the band looks a little tired.
10:00 - the 'Ettes at Mohawk Patio. Power punky garage threesome with killer female vocals & one of the wildest drummers to date. Her sticks are flying, her hair is flying, and everyone is hollering & dancing.
10:30 - Radio 4 at the Mohawk. I only recognize the lead singer from the band, don't know if there's all new members, or whether they all have a completely new look. The Mohawk is a lousy place to see a packed show, everyone bunches up at the entrance, and you cant go anywhere. If you stay in the bar area you can't really hear. We leave.
On our way to Emo's we pass the Guitar Hero-Metallica event. There are hoards of people everywhere, hanging on the barricades, standing on the parking garage, and police everywhere. Turns out that Metallica is actually playing. We thought it was just a Guitar Hero competition. Who knew?
11:00 - Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Emo's Jr. Huge line. This is one of those critics picks, so everyone is trying to see them. Having a $400 badge doesn't get you in. After 2 songs from outside we decide they don't sound all that impressive. Pleasing jangley indie rock. Sure, I've been playing some of the CD on my show, but I wouldn't say it's the most amazing release this year. We stroll on.
11:15 - Sholi at Flamingo Cantina. We went in mainly to wait for All the Saints, and to be somewhere not completely packed (good for us, not so good for the bands). There's a place to sit & see the band, that makes it worthwhile. Sholi is one of those bands where we received the CD at the station & somehow I never got to previewing it. Angular pop/math rock, a lttle emo & a little prog. There's 2 drummers, and they get pretty heavy at times. I like them!
12:00 - All The Saints. Complete sonic distorted wail of heavy spazz psyche. Does that explain what they sound like? Heavy space rock with a Goth edge? Reminds me a little of the Pain Teens.
1:00 - Crystal Stilts at Emo's Jr. Way too much echo on the singer's monotone vocals cause the whole band to descend into an indistinguishable wall of nothing. I really like their recent CD, but this becomes intolerable after 3 songs.
1:15 - Chesterfield Kings (supposedly) at Red Eyed Fly patio. Hoping to see the kings, we arrive in time for Little Steven to introduce the Shys. Are they running extremely late?? The Shys crank out the more boogie influenced side of garage. In other circumstances I might have stayed, but it's been a long night, and I was looking for a solid dose of psyche garage instead. On the way out, I peek at the set times. 12:10 - Shys, 1:00 Chesterfield Kings. NOT.
Try to get a cab at the end of the night at SxSW. Impossible. We decide not to spend the $$ for a pedicab, and limp across the bridge.
Strangest thing seen all day: walking to the Sonics gig, the woman in front of us, while yakking on her phone, leans down & picks up a bird off the sidewalk. Not sure if it's dead, injured or what?? She goes off down the street with phone in one hand & bird in the other. Whatever was she going to do with it?Day 2, Thursday, March 18, 2009
Started the day with a so so "breakfast" (2pm) at Gueros. On the way back to the hotel we stopped in at the Continental Club & took in Hot Club O' Cow Town, a country fried down home roadhouse sound, with fiddle & stand up bass.
We then sat in on the final 1/2 hour of a panel with Devo, discussing how the song Whip it was a blessing & curse to their career, and why they've decided to record new music. Their answer? The world has certainly devolved, so it's time for Devo!
6:00pm - The Von Bondies at the "Bat Bar", the big room set up at the convention center. The show is being beamed to Direct TV, so we get the host exhorting the crowd to look excited & cheer wildly. The VB's plow through a rocking set at breakneck speed, ending with Don singing Rock & Roll Nurse (one of my faves).
Immediately after, we went across to the Brush hill Park, where we caught the final few songs from the Right-ons, a mod/garage band from Spain with all the moves. We had seen them in Boston a few months ago & were happy to see them again.
7:00 - All Tiny Creatures at the Habana Bar. Tiny club. Electronics & prog rock, definitely elements of Neu, atmospheric instrumentals. They have no releases out yet, but when they do, you'll be hearing it on Aural Fixation.
8:00 - No Age at the Radio Room "Patio", really a tent set up on the gravel parking lot. There's a huge line to get in, and once in the 2 No age guys (drums, guitar) are flailing away & crushing our eardrums. At Mass Art there would be a swirl of bodies flying all around, here, mostly agreeable nodding. Is it the SxSW crowd??
Dinner break at the Mekong River Vietnamese & Thai. Not recommended. Very bland, even the 3 star hot dish.
10:00 - tried to see Crystal Stilts at Red 7 Patio. 2 guys noodling around in a pretty pathetic attempt to make music. I think - this is NOT what I think Crystal Stilts should be. Where is my heavy psych guitar driven rock? The band is late, these guys were just trying to fill the time. We bolt.
10:30 - Homosexual at Emo's Jr. Yes, the crusty cynical political brit punk rockers from late 1970's. They rock, and I see people actually pogo. Lead singer has a big anti - GW Bush rant, which goes over well with the SxSW crowd.
11:00 - Tried to catch Efterklang, but no room, so on to the Mohawk to squeeze ourselves into These Are Powers. Think Erase Eratta & Liars, with lots of drums & bass. Frenetic lead singer whips the crowd up. One of the best shows so far...
12:00 At Prague for +/- . Packed room & my feet are tired, so I sit on a couch in the back & just enjoy listening to +/- 's version of math pop, quirky time changes, and lush vocals, now with trombone!
1:00 - over to Submerged to catch 18th Dye. Least crowded show I've been to, which is a shame. 18th Dye from Copenhagen released on of my fave CD's of 2008 (Amorine Queen), full of droney fuzzy guitars, throbbing bass, with boy-girl vocals & a psychedelic edge. Unfortunately, the PA speaker is totally blown, and makes the set unlistenable after 20 minutes.
We close out the night with The Woggles, at the Tap Room 6, and enter to a sweaty dancing crowd, with The Professor on the floor in the middle. They are one of the best garage bands out there, and it never ceases to amaze me how they can get even the most jaded rockers to throw off their inhibitions & get down.Day 1, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Off to SxSW on Wednesday 3/18. To start things off right, I was pulled out of the regular metal detector line & put through the new "puff of air" explosives detector. Air puffed, the door did not open, the light did not turn green. Next I know I'm getting the full body pat down with 2 burly security guys standing by. I was cleared of carrying anything hidden, so next they carefully swabbed down every inch of my carry on items. Nothing came up. The security woman suggested that maybe I had walked through something on my way in. The only thing I could think of was a cat hair ball that I didn't see. Hmmm…
SxSW in Austin. Warm, sunny, our hotel is right by the bridge that is famous for having the huge bat colony that comes out at dusk. Unfortunately, the bats are still wintering in Mexico. WMBR's mistress Laura (Bats in the Belfry) will be disappointed.
Band #1: Ulrich Schnauss at Elysium. 1 man, a lot of laptops & effects, making lovely sonic atmosphere. It was a little weird when the club started pumping big fog clouds over the dance floor.
Band #2: Steed Lord at Elysium. 1 flock of haircuts, 1 chick totally clad in fishnets with a silver lame cape. Heavy techno beats. Time to go.
Band #3: The Ugly Beats at Habana Calle 6. Locals rock the garage, glorious cheesy Farfisa with various friends hopping on stage to grab a guitar. People don't really dance. Don't know if that's just the SxSW influence, or are Austinites as inhibited as Bostonians?
Band #4: Winterglove on the Habana Calle patio, which looks like a grotto, or like it was imported from the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas. (if you've never seen it, look it up). Very Neo New wave, people were grooving, but not really my thing.
Band #5: Viva Voce at the Radio Room. Big room, good place to see a band. Band is a little Broadcast, a little shoegaze, some noisy guitars. I really liked their last release (get yr blood sucked out). They are plagued by a squealing feedback problem that sucks the life out of their set. Time to go sleep. My feet are tired & it's only day 1.
WZBC - The Boston College station where I periodically take the helm.
All Music Guide - A searchable treasure trove of band, song and label info. Essential for those special theme shows.
Fuzz, Acid & Flowers - Vernon Joynson's "extensive guide to U.S. psych and garage music 1964 - 1975." And we mean extensive!
The Tapestry of Delights - Vernon Joynson again, this site focuses on U.K. psych and garage music 1963 - 1976, in equal detail.
Beyond the Beat Generation - a site dedicated to the 1960s psyche and garage underground. With 24/7 streaming audio and extensive links.
This is a collection of all the links we've found for bands on Sue's playlists. If you know of a band website that's not on this list (it has to be a band that Sue has played), send us an and we'll put it up.
Belle & Sebastian
Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Master's Apprentices
Mission Of Burma
The Mooney Suzuki
Mr. Airplane Man
Murder City Devils
Scared of Chaka
Soundtrack of Our Lives
The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs