When I learned the Austin, TX band Shurman would play a half block from my house in a bar that never has music, it seemed providential. Like cosmic UPS delivery. I almost expected a comet over the Red Garter, or roses raising its foundation.
Humble but mighty, the restaurant and bar has a main room clad in fake-blond-wood-paneling, covered with a neon, mirrored or animated sign for every commercial beer known to ESPN. It's right-sized and comfy, but who knew it could sound good? On Wednesday (a Wednesday!) Shurman sat at the south end on bar stools and played and told road stories for all the world like they belonged there.
Turns out a guy knows a guy. A local musician and friend of the band, who is also friendly with one of the Garter's owners, scored the gig for Shurman as a pit-stop on the road to Puerto Peñasco with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers' annual Circus Mexicus tour. Luck had it that the stop was timely: The cost and inconvenience of a detour via Pep Boys for a new wheel bearing was a running joke through the set. Merch was moved.
More words and music, and an essential list, after the break.
Spicy, sweet, hot, funny, giddy — the rich and happy mood of chattering diners clustered with friends could be felt almost upon opening the door to Café Desta, packed as it was with fans of avant indie chamber music on the verge of a historic event. Chris Black’s original Tucson vision, Chamberlab, was turning one year old, and celebrants anticipated an evening of the gang’s greatest hits, delicious as the spirit and the company of its culinary overture.
Program, players and lots of pictures after the jump.
We're thinking Ira Kaplan must have to replace three or four guitars after every tour. He gives new meaning to the term "shredding" with a claw-hammer strum attack and a swing that threatens amps into yet better, bigger and more feedback as he heaps layers of chaos onto the unshakeable constancy of Georgia Hubley's beats and James McNew's chords.
What a show Monday night at the Rialto! Although most songs were from the new CD Fade, the band interrupted their set to accommodate a fan calling for "You Can Have It All" from 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and, in the encore, "Tom Courteney" from 1995's Electro-Pura. "Autumn Sweater" from 1997's I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One also made the playlist. See the setlist below.
The Mavericks brought a rousing good time to the Fox Theatre on Thursday, March 21. Was it reckless, too?
Less than a minute into the opening song, “Back in Your Arms Again,” the single from the Mavericks' 2012 release, In Time, as most audience members leapt to their feet, clapping and dancing, Fox Theatre security, in vivid stop-light yellow shirts, caused an attention-grabbing ruckus, rushing to either end of a center orchestra row, with flashlights blazing. All eyes turned from the stage.
Malo quit playing and the band stopped half a beat later. “I need you to get out of the room,” Malo hollered to the hapless security men. “I need you to get out of the room or I'll stop playing.” The crowd seemed stunned into silence and Malo went on, “I need people to be able to get up and move around.” as the audience caught on and began cheering he shouted the last words “... and do whatever the fuck they want!”
This week we’ve been introducing you to the bands playing at this year’s Festival en el Barrio, and local act Sun Bones (formerly known as Boreas) is one tenth of the significant talent slated to take the stage on March 24.
It’s clear that Sun Bones already have their hometown’s endorsement - they won Up-and-Coming Artists of the Year at the 2012 TAMMIES - but members Evan Casler, Sam Golden, Bob Hanshaw and Seth Vietti have musical influences that extend far beyond the borders of the Old Pueblo, naming Radiohead, Paul Simon, Animal Collective and the Beach Boys as musical muses on their website.
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.
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.
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?
By the time you've read this, I will have already have boarded a train to Austin, Texas for SXSW. I have a laptop full of Walter Hill movies, spaghetti westerns and more than a fistful of tunes for the 24-hour trek.
This will be my second time out there, and like I did last year, I'll be updating the We Got Cactus blog daily with dispatches from my adventures. And, if everything pans out, this year I'll also be including some interviews.
If you want further ramblings, albeit sometimes a bit more profane and off the cuff, you can follow me on Twitter: I'm @Dewtron. You can also follow the #tucsonweekly hashtag.
Some bands I look forward to checking out while I'm there - Action Bronson, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Iggy and the Stooges, Audacity, Fidlar, Nu Sensae, The Shrine, Maserati, Pissed Jeans, Pyyramids, Wo Fat, Thee Oh Sees, Flatbush Zombies, Death, RZA, Bestial Mouths, Hunters, BOAN, Xander Harris and a whole lot more.
Over and out!
Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, is returning to Tucson on April 22 with a show at Club Congress, expanding from a standout yet small show in fall 2011 at Solar Culture.
Powers is starting a nationwide tour Wednesday to promote his sophomore album, Wondrous Bughouse, which releases tomorrow via Fat Possum Records. His first record, The Year of Hibernation, was a consummate sleeper hit, full of understated lo-fi tracks that build to unexpected dance-inducing crescendos.
A Pitchfork review of the album published online today was brimming with praise, awarding it an 8.7 and a “Best New Music” title. The review also allows readers to stream two singles from Wondrous Bughouse, “Dropla” and “Mute,” via Soundcloud.
Youth Lagoon will follow up their Coachella appearance with a show at The Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix before heading down to Club Congress on Monday, April 22. Tickets for the 7 p.m., 18-and-up show are on sale now for $13 through Ticket Fly.