Tour Diary

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SXSW Diaries: The Final Night — Tucson Rules!

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 5:31 PM

A few thoughts on the last full day of SXSW, Saturday, March 16, a couple of days removed.

*Someone at SXSW has a real sense of humor; they booked New Orleans bounce star Big Freedia at twelve noon on an upper stage of the Convention Center, backed up with free Bloody Mary’s. Big Freedia is generally going to be the last act up in any given evening, and in fact was the last act, at 1 a.m., on a stage somewhere in Austin later that evening. But, it was perversely perfect: Big Freedia’s insanely in your face persona and messaging (“Ass Everywhere,” basically), brutally simplistic grooves, and booty shaking dancers was in fact the perfect way to rouse a sluggish crowd up for the final day of the festival after several days of ever-increasing burn-out. But really, check out Big Freedia on video to get the full effect. This is what they warn you about in church: the libido run wild, all eyes on the booty, lasciviousness as a POV. Really, really.

*Detroit’s The Sights distilled that city’s rich musical history - punk and garage rock, soul & R&B and girl group pop - into a perfectly balanced guitar-bass-drums-sax-keys + two back-up singers set that suffered only for being booked at 1 in the afternoon after 4 days of music. Great stuff; catch them in a smoky club sometime for the full effect.

*I found myself talking to a gent that turned out to be Kevin Godley of 10CC and Godley and Creame fame, in town to pitch some sort of audio device to the accumulated masses of musicians. He was a delightful gentlemen, with eyes that actually twinkled, and more proof that you can run into just about anybody, randomly, at SXSW and have some sort of pleasingly off the cuff exchange.

*Back at the Convention Center, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and Sly Stones’s cute-as-sweet potato pie daughter (sporting a pink ‘fro) indulged in a free-floating mutual appreciation society, obstinately on a panel discussion about the History of Funk (there’s a film coming out), but really just an excuse to give each other props about how funky they all are. Which is perfectly true, of course: if this wasn’t the funkiest panel in history, I’ll turn in my Funk Card and retire.

*Other than a brief early foray out to see the wonderfully off the wall, absurdly high energy Brazilian electro/hip hop combo Bonde Do Role, the rest of the night belonged to Tucson, and Tucson stepped up and blew the house down. The full band showcase was at the Speakesy, right in the middle of downtown, and it was a night to treasure. Getting there a little late I missed Andrew Collberg (sorry man, that’s twice at the Festival!) as Chicha Dust were laying into their first number, and they had the crowd from the get-go. If you haven’t seen Chicha Dust - fronted by Gabriel Sullivan and Brian Lopez, and featuring several of the Old Pueblo’s best players - well, your loss. Using the basic template developed in Peru in the 1960s of mixing cumbia with American psychedelic and surf music and localized sounds, Chicha Dust have very quickly developed into one of Tucson’s best live acts, and the Austin crowd was completely bugged out. Following Chicha Dust was left to Tesoro, who more than stepped up and delivered a set of incredibly high energy, passionate Flamenco-rock that took the room energy even higher, before giving the stage back to Gabe Sullivan and his huge Taraf de Tucson collective. Taraf’s big-band mix of cumbia, Balkan and spaghetti Western themed rock pretty much blew the crowd down, playing to a ever-more-packed dance floor that had been filled to capacity for hours already. Fortunately, one of Tucson’s only acts capable of following Taraf, Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta, were on next and somehow managed to take it up to an even higher level of intensity. Sergio and his band of ringers really brought it all to a sustained crescendo, playing a show that would be hard for anyone at the Festival to follow, one of the only real positive ways of looking at the last hour, when headliners Giant Giant Sand didn’t appear in any form that the crowd was clearly expecting.

You may have already heard it by now: for whatever reason, Giant Giant Sand mainstay/front man/singer/songwriter Howe Gelb wasn’t present in the club, instead Skypeing himself in via video link to a huge screen over the stage for a very short short set while Gabe Sullivan and Brian Lopez (on guitar) and Sergio Mendoza (on drums) did their best to follow along on stage. It was...odd, and clearly very disappointing for a good size crowd who had come to see Giant Giant Sand play the heavily coveted, Festival final, 1 p.m. on Saturday night time slot. Gelb has made a career out of defying any expectations and always finding a new approach to his music, band concept, etc., and this was certainly another dramatic deviation from any expectation. Howe is, of course, free to follow his own path where-ever it may lead. Beyond that, whether it was wise or satisfying or any number of other possibilities is for the audience to decide for themselves, but there’s no denying that there were a lot of disappointed folks that wanted to finish off the Festival with one of Tucson’s longest running and most legendary acts, but left perplexed and not at all happy.

None of which, ultimately, took the edge of of what came earlier, and it was a night when Tucson stepped up and delivered an evening as full of joyful good vibes, fabulous musicianship and showmanship, originality and communal camaraderie as I saw all week. In truth, it was the best set of back-to-back-to-back shows I saw all week, and once again made me proud to be a Tucsonan. Am I perhaps a bit biased towards the hometown bands? Sure I am, but the astounding outpouring of energy directed towards the stage from hundreds of non-locals speaks for itself. Tucson stood and delivered and left a huge impression on crowds who had already been impressed for for or five days straight.

Tucson rocked and Austin rolled. Score a big one for the hometown team.

- Carl Hanni

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dewey Does Austin: Gargling Whiskey 'Til the End

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM

My last couple of days in Austin were spent between nursing my cursed ear, checking out some things off the beaten path, and of course checking out bands. I won't let my ear troubles get the best of me. I've been poppin' ibuprofen every few hours for my earache, along with gargling copious amounts of Jameson to remedy the situation and make me fit for duty. Here's rounds four and five:

Gram Rabbit (CA) - A short and sweet set from this female-fronted band out of the Mojave desert. Gram Rabbit sings songs about cowboys, ghosts, aliens, cryptids and other strange phenomena, and you can dance to it. They seem to play Tucson at least once a year, so get your dancing shoes and tinfoil hats ready.

El Vez (CA) - "Aye, this is a punk rock show mija, you're asking for it!" El Vez, aka Robert Lopez, the guitar player from early punk band The Zeros, has been doing his schtick for over 25 years now, and it's still the funnest show in town. This time around he's doing a "Punk Rock Revue", covering classic punk and proto-punk tunes with his Las Vegas by-way-of Tijuana spin. His pick-up band of young recruits scorched through a half-hour of tunes by The New York Dolls, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Roxy Music and Iggy Pop. "Re-Make/Re-Model" by Roxy Music was dedicated to Pope Francis, whom El Vez coudln't give two chingas about.

I went on a trek to check out this candy store I saw on the show Oddities, and on the way there I heard "I Think of Demons" by Texas psych legend Roky Erickson drifting out of an outdoor bar. I said to myself "cool cover" and didn't think anything of it. Then I stopped. I hustled across the street, took a look over the fence, and there he was.

Roky Erickson (TX) - Lucky for me, he had just started. The outdoor patio was packed with the most diverse crowd I've seen here yet. Drunk moms, rock dads, cool kids, hipsters, punks, skaters, metalheads, bikers, frat boys, old ladies - they all came out to see Austin's favorite son sing songs from his decades-long career. I got goose bumps during the "Reverbaration" and "Night of the Vampire." Roky is in fine shape and looked absolutely pickled to be on stage. This is the infamous Roky Erickson's Ice Cream Social he does every year during SXSW, and I'm glad I stumbled upon it.

Dream Affair (NY) - Cool Fad Gadget cover, bro.

Bestial Mouths (CA) - Like their name suggests, Bestial Mouths are an exercise in demon shrieking and speaking in tongues. In fact, I was reminded of the scene in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ when Jesus finds John the Baptist in the river surrounded by shrill, warbling harpies. Lead singer Lynette Cerezo strikes a cutting figure already, but backed by her brutal synth-drenched and percussion-heavy band and with her vocals set to 11 on the echoplex, she's absolutely terrifying. The small, dedicated crowd ate it up, including the Goth Cinderella I saw at last year's Zola Jesus show.

Nobunny (AZ, CA) - "No rules, it's Spring Break and I'm Nobunny!" There was something perfect about Nobunny playing a dead-on cover of the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" a mere 10 feet away from the skeeball machines in the Gypsy Lounge's backyard patio. Justin Champlin always puts on a fun show, and it's been a long time the first time I saw Nobunny play in a tiny bedroom in the Iron Horse neighborhood.

My favorite street performer of the year, or maybe ever (TX) - This guy. Yes, his freaky doll is playing piano. The music itself was pre-recorded backwards ragtime music. I dropped a few dollars in the hat, something I rarely do. Just stare at the picture a little longer.

There's no shortage of great chow in Austin, from free party nachos to Stubb's BBQ to a ridiculous amount of food trucks, it's impossible to go hungry. I recommend the Foreign and Domestic food truck. For $5 you'll be able to chow down on two tender pulled-beef tongue sliders. The beef is extremely tender and the bbq sauce with a hint of spice was absolutely perfect, especially when combined with the pickles and onions. I'm also a fan of Hoek's Death Metal Pizza, a dingy pizza joint on 6th Street that serves right on the sidewalk. The sauce packs a punch, and three types of pizza are always available as slices - cheese, pepperoni and pepperoni and jalapeno. Perfect eating while you sip a beer and check out the great metal bands that play in their back patio.

Finally, I can't recommend Austin's Museum of the Weird enough. It's a two-story building on 6th Street hiding inconspicuously between all the bars. $8 gets you the tour AND a sideshow on the top floor. The museum has all sorts of strange artifacts - shrunken heads, life-size "authentic" mummies, wax figurines of horror movie monsters, and all sorts of other curios related to strange phenomena. Totally worth it if you're into that sort of thing. Don't be afraid to touch the Human Lightbulb in the sideshow, either.

That just about wraps up my Austin visit. A few pounds lighter and a throbbing ear later, I've had a fantastic time. Thanks for reading.

Over and out.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

SXSW Diaries: Cuuuuuumbia!

Posted By on Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Keith Streng from the Split Squad and The Fleshtones, rocking the picnic table at the Gingerman Pub.
  • Carl Hanni
  • Keith Streng from the Split Squad and The Fleshtones, rocking the picnic table at the Gingerman Pub.
More snapshots of the Festival, this time from Friday, March 15.

*One of the great joys of SXSW is the occasional availability of free food, generally at one of the day parties. Today's free banquet was courtesy of BMG Chrysalis, featuring a full selection of Creole food, from jambalaya to gumbo, while being rocked around by the terrific Lafayette, LA rocking gospel combo The Mercy Brothers. Their swamp gospel version of "People Who Died" got the day off to a promising start.

*Back at the Ginger Man pub, The WI-based power pop band Shoes sounded every bit as pitch perfect as they did back in their hey-day of the 1970s. Perhaps rock & roll really does keep you young; if it doesn't kill you, that is.

*Also at Ginger Man, Montreal's The Besnard Lakes kicked up a great psych/drone ruckus ala My Bloody Valentine, and ex-Go-Go Kathy Valentine's combo The Bluebonnets played inspired, all-girl garage pop, but the afternoon highlight was the 2nd ever show by super-group The Split Squad. Including members of The Fleshtones, The Plimsouls, Baseball Project and Clem Burke, super drummer for Blondie, this crew simply went OFF, and guitarist Keith Streng's (from The Fleshtones) in-the-crowd antics and energy might have been the most entertaining thing I've seen all week. Score another one for the old guys, and the forever-young power of rock & roll.

*Over at the Mexican American Cultural Center, after a typically brilliantly set by Austin's own Grupo Fantasma, one of the godfathers of modern cumbia, Monterrey, Mexico's Celso Pina turned in a fabulous set of elastic, grove crazy cumbia that elevated the night into another level altogether. This was a great respite from the rest of the Festival: a huge, outdoor show filled with mainly locals, away from the noise and crowds outside, under a perfect sky, with whole families dancing and clowning around. This was the second SXSW in a row where the happiest crowd I found was a cumbia crowd (two years ago it was Chico Trujillo). Everybody say Cuuuum-bia!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

SXSW Diaries: Daptone Records Burns Down Austin

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Friday, March 15, Austin: Being pressed for time, and working on a borrowed computer, instead of diving to deeply into Thursday's Festival wrap-up, here are a few snapshots.

*If there's a truly quintessential SXSW band, it would have to be the Waco Bros. I've seen these guys every SXSW I've been to back into the '90s, and they bring it every time. Score one for the old guys, rocking as hard as anyone at the Festival, as irreverent and cheeky as any band half their age. And of course they have the SONGS.

*Dave Grohl's Keynote Speech was a highly entertaining love letter to rock & roll from one of the nicer guys in the biz. Telling his own personal story, starting with '70s rock (he beat-boxed the riff from "Frankenstein") up through his life changing discovery of punk rock and hardcore, and on up to the rise of Nirvana before going back to his DIY roots with Foo Fighters, Grohl sounded very much like the music fan he clearly still is. Score one for the nice guys and the working musician, in his case seemingly unfazed by his own enormous success.

*Tucson represented heavily all afternoon at an outdoor showcase outside a cafe and and hotel on South Congress. I only got to see sets by Gabe Sullivan and Taraf de Tucson and Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, but Andrew Collberg, Chicha Dust, Rich Hopkins, Sergio Mendoza (on a huge stage next door) and others also played. Gabe and Taraf totally brought it, and their big-band mix of cumbia, Balkan and spaghetti western rightfully attracted a huge walk-by crowd. Terry Texas Trash and his band also grabbed the attention of the huge crowd on South Congress enjoying the festival, this time by the hair and by the throat. We took some real Tucson pride from this one; our musicians and bands are as good as anyone anywhere, and now that many more people know it in Austin, as well.

*I left 5 songs into British soul guy James Hunter's set; this just wasn't catching fire, and Duncan from KXCI and I knew that all we had to do with head around the corner and down the street to...

*...The Daptone Records Soul Review showcase and we'd get all the soul we could handle. This was indeed the case. Following an opening set by the Como Mamas (acapella gospel by three terrific church women from Como, MS) and a set by the Menahan Street Band, this show caught fire the moment Charles Bradley (the 'Screaming Eagle of Soul') hit the stage with the energy and moves that would make James Brown watch his back. This was truly inspiring showmanship, from a guy that must be one of the happiest guys in the world, finally achieving his due after decades of struggle.

Following a largely instrumental set by the Sugarman 3, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings just TOOK the stage, which Jones proceeded to tear up. Whatever got into Sharon Jones in Austin sure worked; it was one of the most energetic and engaged shows I've ever seen at SXSW, and the crowd gave her and her band as much love back as the band gave to the crowd.

The Budos Band capped things off with a thunderous set of dark, at times almost-sinister Staten Island funk. I'd never really noticed how dark their music was until tonight; eight heavy-looking dudes in black t-shirts, knit hats and crap tennis shoes, the exact visual opposite of the well-dressed Dap Kings, laying down a very heavy groove that seemed to emanate from underground. They brought everyone back for a final song, a big-band sing-along version of Sly Stone's "Family Affair" that sent everyone off into the night with more soul in their soul.

*The last band I saw was one of those classic SXSW moments: a totally unknown (to me) band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (from Portland, of course), who blew what little was left of my mind and ears at 1:30 in the morning with a set of insanely great psychedelic guitar rock that had the audience weeping with pure pleasure. Thanks to the Weekly's Stephen Seigel for the turn-on!

*Finally: another you-had-to-be-there moment, at 2:30 in the morning or so we come across a guy methodically and maniacally pounding a full drum kit into submission, set up on the street in downtown Austin, his Bonham-on-speed pounding echoing for blocks.

The magic still happens!

Dewey Does Austin: Dewtron Meets the Protomen

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Like Capt. Willard lost in the jungle, I'm in the thick of it now. Time is of the essence, and due to a developing earache my patience is nil.

I saw a lot of bands, and most of them were crap. But the ones of note are:

The Protomen (TN) - For fans of dirt bikes, Michelob, "city rock", Streets of Fire, Loverboy, community theater, Ennio Morricone and truck-stop boogie. The Protomen (and one Protowoman) are an eight-piece band who aren't afraid to mix slick power ballads with retro-soundtrack dynamics. Their three albums, Act I, Act II and the forthcoming Act III tell the sci-fi tinged stories of "The Protomen", complete with various band-members acting out central roles. It sounds cheesy and gimmicky, but it works. I'd love to see a complete show rather than a showcase from these guys. Speaking of...

Pissed Jeans (PA) - Lead singer Matt Korvette is the preening and writhing love-child of Jesus Lizard's David Yow and Johnny Rotten. They would have been proud of this caged beast twisting, yowling, hunching his back and displaying pure contempt for the audience. At one point he launched into a tirade on SXSW, saying with a wide, shit-eating grin "this is a showCASE, not a show. Next time you see a shitty band here tell them that." The band only played a 25-minute set at the old, converted cattle-hall venue, but it was a great set full of piss and vinegar fuck you.

Death (MI) - Not the death metal band every rebellious teenager has a passing phase with. Nope, this is the amazing proto-punk band from Detroit. Good news for fans: they're the subject of a new doc called A Band Called Death and they have a new album in the pipes! Death played an impressive hour-long set at a packed tiny dive. They played the entirety of ...For the Whole World to See, plus a beautiful Marvin Gaye cover and a couple of new ones. Unfortunately, the security at this venue were complete assholes. Anytime there was any movement in the crowd, the bouncers were right there making sure nobody bobbed their head too much or shimmed their shoulders excessively. I was wedged between one meathead and the band's monitor, and the slight earache I had earlier fully blossomed during the set. Remind me to get some earplugs today.

Always on the run, talk to you soon.

Over and out.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

SXSW Diaries: Carl Hanni's Day One Experience

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Day 1 of SXSW 2013 was Wednesday, 3/13 for this scribe. After a delightful drive out in the Cadillac w/Jeb Schoonover and Chris Black (who is playing shows this week), and several great meals, we arrived around noonish on Wednesday to perfect weather. I really only had a chance to see a handful of shows on Wednesday, but they were all great. The legendary ska band The Skatellites was the perfect SXSW ice breaker, with skanking feet and huge smiles all around the back patio of the Gingerman Pub, courtesy of Blurt magazine, hosting shows there all week.

Typically of SXSW, I immediately stated running into folks from Tucson: Naim Amor, Duncan Hudson from KXCI, eventually folks from the Weekly, Rialto and Club Congress.

After some chicanery better left to the imagination, I managed to get through the gate into Stubbs, home of the evening's biggest showcase, a mega bill of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Café Tacuba, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Alt-J.

Cave's set was spectacular and mesmerizing; it may be cliché, but he literally prowled the stage in one of the most convincing outlays of rock star persona I've seen in years. The band - featuring two guitars (one doubled on violin), bass, drums and keyboard players, one of who doubled on a second drum kit - created on of the most ferocious rackets, backed up with periods of calm I've seen in years. Their spectacularly profane version of "Stagger Lee" pinned the crowd's ears back; the whole thing was suffused with class and menace. This was the good stuff: worth the drive out alone. Café Tacuba played a typically incredibly high energy set, complete with choreographed dance moves from the whole band, before ceding he stage to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Like Nick Cave, singer Karen O is impossible to take your eyes off; she's just got it all, the look, the moves, the voice, the band, the songs. Under dark skies, and with a wind whipping up, they basically ruled for close to an hour; the audience gave a lot of love back to the stage.

I only caught a few minutes of Alt-J before heading out, but hope to catch them later this week.

Onward and upward!

Dewey Does Austin: Vegans, Barbecue and Bird Placement

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I will never say no to free BBQ. A free, hot lunch is always a special treat and will insure I'm out of bed and in the serving line at the proper time. This was at a Tumblr/Red Bull sponsored meet 'n' greet with some industry types and a DJ going nuts with the reggaeton. I'm not one to hobnob, schmooze, or otherwise consort so I was out of there as soon I ate.

I checked out the Brooklyn Vegan showcase down the street at The Main. I'm glad I did. Not knowing who was playing I stumbled on:

Anamanaguchi (NY) - The band I couldn't pronounce correctly all day long while trying to explain them. Apparently, this quartet is in the "chip-tune" or (ugh) "chip-punk" genre. I don't know a chip from from a mudflap, but I think it has something to do with making music from Nintendos. I didn't see any old NES' on the stage nor did I hear any Shinobi-type tunes, but what I did hear was hilariously awesome. These guys should be laying down new soundtracks to 80s sci-fi/action flicks like Megaforce or Warriors of the Lost World. In fact, they should just name all their tracks "Battle Sequence 1" or "Fight Scene (On the Beach)."

Maserati (GA) - It was a cinematic double feature this afternoon as Maserati followed Anamanaguchi. Maserati is also an instrumental quartet, but way over on the prog-rock side. These guys know their Genesis and King Crimson, with a little bit of Iron Maiden for good taste and measure. They mostly stuck to material off their latest release, Maserati VII. An album so good it made my top 10 of 2012. It was a blistering half-hour set of soaring guitar leads, climatic crescendoes and bombastic prowess.

As I did last year, I made the scene over at the Thrasher magazine Death Match party at the Scoot Inn. Two stages of punk and metal, and a killer half-pipe to boot. Over here I saw:

The Shrine (CA) - This was the first band I saw at SXSW last year. The Shrine play fun, blistering metal and they also make the best metal faces I've seen in a long time. This is eating pizza in a Camaro type stuff. The crowd packed in like sardines inside the small indoor bar, and The Shrine delivered the goods while numerous cans of Lone Star hurled through the air.

The Adolescents (CA) - I only caught a few songs from this veteran punk rock band from Orange County, but what I saw and heard was fun as hell. Lead singer Tony Cadena might not have the same teenage squeal that was the band's trademark, but "American Lockdown" sounded great. It was cool to see a gang of 12-year-olds charging into each other. The kids are still alright.

I think the only thing I've ever won before was a cake in a cake walk. Maybe I got five bucks on a scratcher once. This changed yesterday when I found out I won a a much coveted ticket for the NPR showcase at Stubb's. This is where I saw:

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (AUS, UK, USA) - Nick Cave has finally become what he's always wanted to be: a character straight out of a Flannery O'Connor novel, mixed with Las Vegas showman-zest. Taking the stage promptly at 8 p.m., Cave said "we're gonna play a long one, and hopefully when it's over it'll be dark." The band kicked into "Higgs Bosson Blues", the 10 minute talking blues track off their latest album. Granted, I haven't been much of a fan ever since guitar player/weirdo/genius Blia Bargeld left the fold, and after hearing longtime Cave collaborator Mick Harvey bailed recently as well, I didn't have the highest of hopes. I was wrong. Cave commanded the stage like a fire-and-brimstone preacher, conducting a nighttime sermon while his minstrels played on behind him. Violin player Warren Ellis handled his instrument like it was a hungry snake, tossing his bow, playing it like a guitar, swinging it wildly. Cave and the Bad Seeds played a few off their new album, plus a good chunk of their back catalogue. "Red Right Hand", "Jack the Ripper", "Stagger Lee", "Deanna" sounded great, but it was "The Mercy Seat" that just about shook me to tears. Bonus: Ex-Magazine and Ex-Bad Seed Barry Adamson is back in the band, this time playing keyboards.

After a long and intense day, I settled in at Valhalla, where I caught some bands before the night was over. I checked out:

So Many Dynamos (MO) - These guys and gals were adorable. Maybe too adorable. I'm a little suspect, they were smiling way too much and having too much fun. Think Liquid Liquid meets Up With People. Or the Tom Tom Club meets the "I Want to Teach the World to Sing" Coke commercial. There were so many of them they couldn't fit on the stage, but they played a great funk-punk set and had the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Parenthetical Girls (OR) - Put a bird on it.

Maserati (GA) - Yeah, I saw them again. And other than an amp blowing out in the first five minutes, it was even better than the show I saw earlier in the day. They might be one of the best live bands I've ever seen.

My shoulder hurts, my dogs are barking, and my stomach is growling. I gotta run, but I'll be back tomorrow with more action. Cheers!

Over and out.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dewey Does Austin: Day One of SXSW

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

After a slightly hellish train ride, I arrived in Austin with maybe having two hours of sleep in the past 24 hours. I immediately set upon the convention center to grab my badge, check out the press room, and gulp down a few cups of coffee. I was ready to party.

...No, I wasn't.

I took a nap in the hotel room, dragged my ass out of bed and went downtown. This being the first night of the music portion of SXSW, pickins' were slim and I was thirsty, so I decided to go where the free beer was.

I headed over to the Vice magazine/Jansport party located at a spacious indoor-outdoor warehouse. Why the backpack I wore my entire time in high school was having a party, I don't know. Here's a lowdown on the bands I saw:

Skaters (NY) - If you look like you cribbed your fashion style from old pictures of Adrenalin O.D. in Maximum Rock and Roll, and your opening music is the theme to Beavis and Butthead, I'm going to have high hopes. But if you're going to retread the not-exactly-ancient sounds of The Strokes and ARE Weapons, you're going to crush those hopes.

Team Spirit (NY) - Nothing memorable about this band other than their throwaway cover of a Replacements song two songs in.

Wavves (CA) - You remember Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke? Remember the battle of the bands scenes with the three punk bands? That's what these guys remind me of. Messy, fun and a touch chaotic. The trio have also expanded to a quartet, adding a second guitar player to the mix. Hilarious celebrity cameo in the crowd by MTV's John Norris.

Throughout the night, the sound mix was incredibly awful. The bands sets were muddled and muffled. But.....what else should I expect from a party sponsored by Vice and backpacks, right?

Continue reading »

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