Saturday, March 17, 2018

SXSW 2018: The Boys Are Back In Town

Posted By on Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Luna Lee on the Gayaegum - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Luna Lee on the Gayaegum
Our boss, Jim Nintzel, wasn’t wrong when he wrote in his last blog entry that the there’s lots of good girl power vibes at this year’s SXSW. Today, we saw Luna Lee, in all the way from Korea with her traditional (and insane looking) Korean string instrument, the Gayaegum. She started her set with a traditional Korean tune, but was really in her element playing pieces by the likes of Nirvana and The White Stripes. Between watching her fingers fly across the strings and hearing her announce cheerily “Let’s go!” before every song, it was hard not to love her.

But the guys came through today as well. Two of my favorites? Chihuahua, Mexico’s Coma Pony and Hawthorne, CA’s Cuco.

Coma Pony guitarist Marco - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Coma Pony guitarist Marco
Coma Pony has been around since 2011, if you include a hiatus of about two years in the middle. Their 2016 breakout hit was “En Doming Las Niñas Van A Jugar al Parque.” If you don’t speak Spanish, no worries—they’re an instrumental band that somehow makes dreamy math rock that’s completely groovy. Audience members were dancing throughout the set, and the guitarist—a guy named Marco with an enviable afro—was rocking out so hard that his glasses flew off at least five times. (He said afterwards that, despite his rocking out with wild abandon, he’s never broken them because he’s very, very careful.)

Cuco at the Mohawk - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Cuco at the Mohawk
Cuco, or Omar Banos, is 19, and he’s on the rise. It’s hard to write about him without using the word “heartthrob.” Girls in the front row are losing their minds as he sings “Baby don’t trip, I’m coming home. Kick it with me—I don’t care if the sun is gone.” But he had more to offer than boy band-esque lyricism and charm. His show was fun. There were colorful projections on the wall behind him, he joked around with the audience and he even pulled out a trumpet few times. (What's more fun than a trumpet?) Perhaps his fun, mildly self deprecating humor is best summed up by his Twitter handle: @Icryduringsex

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SXSW 2018: Low is an Oasis in the Frenzy

Posted By on Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Whereas many outdoor concerts go for being as frantic and in-your-face and attention-grabbing as possible, indie rock outfit Low takes it slow and steady. This was especially clear when they followed-up the electropop freak-out of Superorganism at SXSW.


Since 1993, Low has reacted to noisy rock shows and rambunctious audiences by turning their volume down. As purveyors of “slowcore,” the three members hardly move on set and their instrumentation progresses minimally, methodically and hypnotically. Sure, it might be melancholy, but this style can also result in powerful jams.


Awash in reds and purples, Low’s music offered tired festival-goers an auditory break—at least some of the time. Many of their songs started subdued and sad, but grew into greatly layered behemoths of fuzzy guitar, bass and kettle drums.


Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, their music is often as bleak and cold as their surroundings. But in a hot, manic Austin night, this could be just what the (witch) doctor ordered.

Friday, March 16, 2018

AZ Republican Legislators Say No To 17 Minutes of Silence

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 2:44 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock
They were in a political bind on March 14. The Arizona House Republicans could have stood for 17 minutes in silent remembrance of the 17 students killed in Florida and risk angering the Second Amendment absolutists who vote for them, or they could leave and risk showing disrespect for the slain Parkland students and the local students who filled the visitors gallery.

They chose disrespect.

Politicians face damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations all the time. Both sides of the aisle love to make their colleagues on the other side squirm. This was one of those times for the Republicans.

House Democrats introduced the students in the gallery one by one. It took an hour. Had to be tough for the Republicans to sit through. The fresh faced, idealistic students asked the legislature to pass laws requiring comprehensive background checks, banning bump stocks and hiring more school counselors. Those comparatively mild, measured requests made the Rs squirm further down in their seats. When Democrats made speeches reinforcing student demands, that was too much for the Republicans to take sitting down. Most of them left.

Then came a moment when they were asked to stand quietly for 17 minutes. They could have done it as a simple gesture, a show of respect for the 17 deaths of Florida students who were the same age as the young people in the gallery. It wasn't a vote. It wasn't a commitment to pass gun regulation. Even the nuttiest of their gun nut constituents most likely would have shrugged it off. But they wouldn't do it.

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SXSW 2018: Josh T. Pearson Works with the Chaos of SXSW

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 10:59 AM

Nothing should have worked with Josh T. Pearson’s set at SXSW: He lost his voice the previous night, there were some technical difficulties, he revealed he was working on probably an hour of sleep, and to top it off, his four-piece band was only about three days old. Despite all of these setbacks, Pearson delivered an enrapturing performance. Perhaps it was simple luck, but for anyone who knows the indie-rock-gone-country-singer’s music, Pearson works well in the midst of disaster.


Pearson and his band played some select singles from his upcoming album, The Straight Hits!, as well as some reworked songs from his critically-acclaimed The Last of the Country Gentlemen.

His once sparse and depressive acoustic dirges received a second life. The keyboard player added lush and delicate layers, the drummer added a surprisingly effective beat to the experimental songs, and the bassist added a slick core to bring them all together. For a band that just, and I mean just, formed, they played tight and with a great amount of chemistry.


You’ve heard honest, twangy country rock like Neil Young, and you’ve heard the lengthy, epic (occasionally ambient) instrumental movements of post-rock—well Josh T. Pearson and his band somehow combined the two to make some bonafide country post-rock, if that can be called a thing.

And although the set was rife with apologies by the singer, it was also filled with great one-liners between the songs and a cheering, mesmerized crowd.

The Straight Hits! releases April 13.

SXSW 2018: "Thank You, Music Lovers!"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 10:44 AM

Los Lobos guitarist Cesar Rosas - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Los Lobos guitarist Cesar Rosas
Los Lobos guitarist Cesár Rosas shouted his thanks across SXSW outdoor stage in downtown Austin: “Thank you, music lovers!”

It’s a city full of music lovers. You can see it in the way that people play their music: During country artist Josh T. Pearson's set (which pretty much broke all of our hearts and put them back together again with every song), every member of the four-person band blurred the lines between human and instrument with their passion. When I tell Pearson’s bassist—a guy named Noah who met Pearson for the first time four days earlier—that I could tell how much he loves music just by watching him, he bubbles over with thanks.

“I need music in my life,” he says. “Sometimes, when I talk about some of my favorite bassists, I just get goosebumps.”

Or there’s Australian artist Gordi, an indie pop songwriter whose voice rings with relatable honesty (“every fiber of my being’s agreed that what you want can become something you need”), whether she’s belting with abandon or slipping into a sweet falsetto. Gordi introduces herself as Sophie Payten afterwards and mentions she finished medical school recently, and has an internship next year. She tries to keep it on “the back burner,” though, because music is her priority.

Indie pop crooner Joey Dosik - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Indie pop crooner Joey Dosik
You can see it in the way people watch their music. When R&B/indie pop/soaring voice-coming-from-a-slight-frame musician Joey Dosik performs at The Barracuda, people are singing along, dancing, sometimes closing their eyes the way you do when you want to make sure you remember something for a long, long time.

Violinist and vocalist Sudan Archives - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Violinist and vocalist Sudan Archives
Or, during a set by violinist, vocalist, and all-around performance artist Sudan Archives, one woman mouths along the words to nearly every song. She’s so enraptured that I don’t see her pull out her phone one time during the whole set… and what’s a more serious demonstration of love than not looking at your phone for a solid 20 minutes to pay attention to another person?

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Our Future is Marching: Local Students Call for an End to Gun Violence

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 5:51 PM

If the wave of pro gun-regulation youngsters is any indication of what the U.S. electorate will look like in one to five years, the NRA is in trouble.

Across the nation, students protested gun violence on National School Walkout Day—the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida. And in Pima County, many student bodies held “walk-ins” and assemblies where they boldly and unequivocally called for Congress to act on their behalf.

Leadership across six public school districts in Pima County counted 22 high schools and 23 middle schools with a student-led event to call for change and remember the 17 lives lost in Parkland. That’s not counting charter and private schools or the Tanque Verde, Vail and Sahuarita districts, who couldn’t be reached for a count.

Students at the Canyon Del Oro High School held a walk-in to their football fields at 10 a.m.—the time that students held 17 minutes of silence nationwide, for the 17 lives lost at the Florida school shooting.

The walk-out was organized by student leaders who were clear that the walkout was not about gun control, but a call to Congress and local leaders to act on behalf of students to stop mass shootings in schools.

One of the student organizers, junior Rebecca Shanks, said it doesn’t matter what a student’s opinion is on how to fix the problem, what matters is that you speak up.

“It’s really important that students are getting a voice and being heard by adults,” Shanks said. “We are fed up by gun violence, and we want something done about it.”

Students at BASIS North held a 17-minute vigil, at 10 a.m., for the people killed in Parkland, Florida. At the beginning of each minute, someone spoke about each victims. Public officials spoke about the importance of common-sense gun reform, like Victoria Steele, former state lawmaker and current candidate for Arizona State Senate.

Steele has played a part in a number of regulatory firearm bills in the State House, which she says never even get a hearing. She says the youth today are sending a message to Republican leadership in Arizona that if they don’t start listening, they’ll be replaced.

“They are the power. They are our hope right now—these kids,” Steele said in an interview about the wave of student activists. “I don’t want them to think for a minute that because they’re young and they don’t vote that they don’t have the power.”

Junior Corazón Núñez is turning 18 this year and will vote for the first time in the mid-term elections. She says common-sense gun regulation is one of the issues she’ll base her votes on.

“This is a priority for myself and many of us,” she says. “I will definitely be looking at NRA endorsements…. I want to know that Representatives care about their constituents and not the NRA.”

At Orange Grove Middle School more than 500 students marched around their football field,chanting and holding signs calling for gun regulation and an end to gun violence. The march was organized by a group of five 14- and 13-year-old girls. All wearing orange—a color adopted to represent resistance to gun violence—they literally finish each others’ sentences.

They were in awe by the numbers of students who showed up to take part in the march.

“I couldn’t even say anything because of how amazing it was,” said student leader, 14-year-old Simone Gelety.

Organizer and Student Council Member 13-year-old Naomi Holtzman said it’s amazing how their protest “was nothing and suddenly it became everything.”

About a dozen kids on the march chanted “Guns save lives” and held anti-regulation signs that, among other things, compared regulating guns to banning cars (of course, cars are regulated and studied extensively on how to make safer). The girls organizing the march say some of their best friends are against gun regulation, and they’re fine with others having differing opinions.

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Laughing Stock: Trenton Davis Jokes In All Colors

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 3:49 PM

Trenton Davis headlines four shows at Laff's March 16 and 17.
  • Trenton Davis headlines four shows at Laff's March 16 and 17.
Can comedy fans give up vicarious ghetto life and the spotlight earned by their own awkward grip on multiculturalism? Would comics of color let ever resist the abundant comedy fruit of the dominant culture’s heedless racism?

Heck if I know. I’m as big a sucker for all that as the next guy, but the current wilderness in our concept of race makes it seem worth asking.

Gary Bynum, owner of Laff’s Comedy Café, stresses just one criterion: Is it funny? Since Trenton Davis is headlining four shows at Laff’s on March 16 and 17, let’s just go with that. Davis is hella funny. And so is his opener, Lyall Behrens, a social critic with exceptional chops in celebrity impressions.

Born in North Carolina, Davis has logged well over 10,000 hours of standup in 45 U.S. clubs. His TV credits include The Real, Laughs on Fox and Bar Rescue. He finished second in the San Diego Comedy Festival, first in the Sacramento and Seattle International comedy festivals and was a finalist in the NBC Standup for Diversity program. He also writes ads for Beats by Dr. Dre.

Davis’ biography stresses that he grew up in a two-parent household — good to know if you were hoping for single-mom-in-the-ghetto jokes. His first gig was a fraternity prank, but it was such a hit he started hosting shows at his church.

In a revealing interview for the 2013 Seattle International Comedy Festival, Davis tells how he committed to comedy ten year ago, after a long hiatus from dabbling in it. “I went to the Ice House to watch a show. . .I watched how this comedian had the crowd in his hands; how he was bringing everyone laughter and, I swear. God spoke to me, ‘Trenton why are you not on stage?’ Since then there aren’t more than 5 days I’m not on some stage, making people laugh.”

In the same interview, Davis describes his act. “I (take) audiences on a journey. I introduce myself, tell them who I am, where I’m from, and then after they get comfortable, I tell them the crazy things that go through my head, how insecure I am, and why I have trouble when it comes to relationships.”

Boom. Human. Visit for showtimes and reservations.

Retro Game Show is Back!

Watch the world’s tallest drag queen and scholar Tempest du Jour host “Hollywood(ish) Squares at Club Congress on Saturday, March 17. Show’s at 7; tickets are $12.

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Arizona Basketball: Dusan Ristic, Rawle Alkins ready for one last Dance

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 11:30 AM

Arizona senior forward Dusan Ristic was named to the Pac-12 All Conference team, averaging 12.1 points per game and 7 rebounds this season. - ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Arizona Athletics
  • Arizona senior forward Dusan Ristic was named to the Pac-12 All Conference team, averaging 12.1 points per game and 7 rebounds this season.
BOISE—Members of the Arizona Wildcats gathered around the semi-circular row of lockers tucked deep inside Boise's Taco Bell Arena, ahead of their final walkthrough on Wednesday.

The fresh-faced cadre of stars assembled in the undersized, sterile locker room will soon do battle with an undersized, scrappy cast from far-away Buffalo, but for now strike a relaxed, confident tone.

Take, for instance, 7-foot Serbian center Dusan Ristic, who's lounged out in the corner of the locker room, shooting the breeze with anyone that passes.

Then there's the unmistakable presence that is freshman Deandre Ayton, who's cracking jokes and his trademark ear-to-ear smile in the center of the room.

It's hard to tell that these dozen or so personalities are some 27 hours away from the cruelest, most exciting three-week spectacle in American sports, the NCAA Tournament.

Battling the Bulls

That tone will change by 7:40 p.m. local time tonight, when the Wildcats' will get down to business in the first round against the Bulls.

For Ristic, it's been a dream senior season, on the court at least, earning an All-Pac-12 Second Team selection, thanks to averaging 12.1 points and 7 rebounds per game this season.

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Staff Pick

Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

This top-rated illusion show is "Revitalizing Magic" by blending an international travel theme with all the charms… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays. Continues through April 14 160 South Scott Ave

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