Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spending Time and Money on a Saturday

If downtown calls to you on a Saturday night, as it's want to do, I have a few ideas for how you might want to spend your time and money. First things first, who's driving? Who's drinking? What's your timeline? Where are you gonna park? What the fuck are you thinking? Maybe you should just stay home. Blog over.

Pure X - Heaven video via YouTube

The new Pure X record is spaced-out psychedelic-easy-listening. I'm not even sure that's a thing but it sort of makes me feel like I'm listening to a warped Real Estate record after drinking more than the recommended dosage of Tussin. Maybe that's not the most appealing description but I thoroughly enjoy this band and I think you might as well. They're playing Empire Control Room this evening along with M Geddes Gengras. This event should only cost you $8 at the door and I'd expect music to start closer to 10pm.

Maybe psychedelic easy-listening's not your thing? I can respect that. Sometimes you need something a bit more visceral, a real-ass rock 'n roll experience. Well, if that's your thing then you should head on over to Beerland for the Ghetto Ghouls' record-release show. You can buy the band's self-titled LP now from Monofonous for $15 or you can put that money in the hands of the band that made it (or people who know them) at Beerland this evening. Tonight's show is a tour kick-off show, so maybe you could fling fuel cards at the stage instead of just empty beer cans tonight?

Ok, so you don't like psychedelic-easy-listening, you're not interested in the Ghetto Ghouls show either, maybe I can interest you in some power-pop? Cheer-Up Charlies is always the perfect place to end up any night you happen to be downtown and tonight is no exception. First of all admission is free to anyone over 21+ so, if you're tight on funds there's that. If you're not tight on funds, there's usually a donation can at the door for the bands I'm about to recommend. Alms for the poor and all that. The line-up includes Party Girl, Those Howlings, The Mole People, and Growl. Check the Event Page for set times.

Not into guitars whatsoever? Damn boo, you picky. I gotchu though. This is Austin, so far this post has kept shit local. If we're going with that vibe I'm pointing you over to Lambert's for Corduroi and Holiday Mountain. I heard Laurie Gallardo call Holiday Mountain "dub-pop" on KUT. I'm not exactly sure I know what that means but I do know that this poster will tell you everything you need to know about this event. #molly

Ok, so you don't like psych-easy, you're not into garage-punk, you don't like power-pop/guitar-shit and that Holiday Mountain poster scared the shit out of you. Well I have a recommendation even for a judgy prick such as yourself. International superstar DJ/Producer Duke Dumont is in Austin hot on the heels of his Coachella appearance last night and he's playing Kindgom. That's right, the club you get to in that alley behind the Frost Tower is hosting Duke Dumont tonight. If that's not exciting to you, then either you're not into dance music, you're not as gay as I am, or you just discovered Disclosure in which case you'll regret missing this show in roughly 8 months. Tickets are $20 for this show and I wouldn't expect that they'll be available by the time the doors open so if you want in, pay now.

Duke Dumont - Need U (100%) video via YouTube

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Friday, April 11, 2014


Austin's-own Equals will celebrate the release of their debut LP this evening with a show at Empire Control Room. Tickets are still available online if you're a pay ahead kind or person but you can also pay at the door. Equals is an instrumental post-rock band that I am already a big fan of. If the first singles from the new LP are any indication, Tracts is definitely going to kick some serious ass.

Also joining tonight's album-release party will be Roger Sellers. Not only did Roger record vocals for the new Equals LP, he himself is celebrating his recent signing to Punctum Records. His performance this evening will feature a full-band.

As if that weren't enough, arrive early enough and you can even catch a set from Future Death. Their new LP is due out next month and the leading track already received a favorable review in Pitchfork.

I know there is always a lot going on tonight but I just wanted to make sure you considered this show. All of the bands on the bill are local, all of them have new material out now or in the near future and the projectors at the venue are really cool. So, just keep this event in mind this evening ok?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Planning Ahead: These Shows Might Sell-Out

There is nothing worse than the feeling you get when you find out you could have seen Joan Osbourne at the One World Theater the day AFTER she performed both an early and late set. I'd like to think, if God was one of us he'd be cool enough to give us the heads-up. So, it is with that sort of Christian spirit that I have combed through websites that are much more informative than this one to give you this seemingly simple list of shows that actually takes hours and hours of not-watching porn to complete. This isn't a comprehensive list of concerts, it is merely a list of shows that you should probably buy tickets for in advance if you want to be there to take blurry photos of the bands. There are shows listed here that I wouldn't want to attend but I think some of you might so I included them. Conversely, there are shows that you would like to attend that are not even on my radar and/or no thanks. This list is focused on shows with pre-sale tickets, when you click the name of the venue it will take you to the ticket purchase page or Facebook Event Page. Show List Austin and Do512 are good resources if you want something with a more comprehensive scope. With all of that in mind, here's a giant list of things you can do with your hard earned money.

Warpaint - Love is to Die video via YouTube

Thursday, April 3rd

Friday, April 4th

Saturday, April 5th

Sunday, April 6th

Monday, April 7th

Wednesday, April 9th

Friday, April 11th

Saturday, April 12th

Sunday, April 13th

Wednesday, April 16th

Thursday, April 17th

Saturday, April 19th

Monday, April 21st

Tuesday, April 22nd

Wednesday, April 23rd

Thursday, April 24th

Friday, April 25th

Saturday, April 26th

Monday, April 28th

Tuesday, April 29th

Wednesday, April 30th

Thursday, May 1st

Friday, May 2nd

Saturday, May 3rd

Sunday, May 4th

Monday, May 5th

Thursday, May 8th

Friday, May 9th

Saturday, May 10th

Thursday, May 15th

Friday, May 16th

Sunday, May 18th

Saturday, May 24th

Sunday, May 25th

Tuesday, May 27th

Thursday, May 29th

Friday, May 30th

Satuday, May 31st

Wednesday, June 4th

Thursday, June 5th - Sunday June 8th

Friday, June 6th

Saturday, June 7th

Saturday, June 14th

Monday, June 16th

Sunday, June 22nd

Friday, June 27th

Wednesday, July 2nd

Saturday, July 19th

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SXSW 2014 Wrap-Up


"Did you hear?"

"Were you there?"

"Did you see anything?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"I don't want to think about it."

"How did it happen?"

"That's fucked up!"

"What's going to happen now?"

"How can I help?"

"Where can I donate?"

"SXSW Cares."

"Did you get tickets for Kimmel?"

"Did you get tickets for Kanye?"

"Did you get tickets for Andy Cohn?"

"Did you get a Fader wristband?"

"Did you eat Rachel Ray's brisket?"

"Did you get into the Spin party?"

"Did you get VIP for Hype Hotel?"

"Did you get invited to Willie Nelson's ranch?"

"How many bands did you see?"

"How many movies did you see?"

"How many panels did you attend?"

"Did you see anyone famous?"

"How is the line there?"

"I'm still in line."

"I'll see you soon, I'm still in line."

"This line isn't moving!"

"Are they at capacity?

"What's the capacity?"

"It's one in one out."

"If you leave, you'll have to get back in line."

"Is that RSVP?"

"Are they checking the RSVP?"

"Did we RSVP for this?"

"I RSVP'd!"

"I should have a +1!"

"I'm on the artist's guestlist!"

"The artist is a friend of mine and they put me on their list."

"OMG. They just KILLED it!"

"Did you see _____? They killed it last night."

"I got in to see Foster the People! They killed it!"

"You guys, Snoop Dogg just killed it!"

"The Hold Steady just killed it!"

"London Grammar killed it!"

"Coldplay just killed it!"

"50 Cent killed it tonight"

"Did you see Pitbull last night? He killed it!"

"Spotted Lady Gaga walking into Red River businesses just like a human!"

"Lady Gaga spectacle."

"Lady Gaga said..."

"I don't care about Lady Gaga!"

"Check out my picture with Lady Gaga!"

"I'm not doing any of that celebrity shit this year."

"Who have you seen so far?"

"What's been the favorite thing you've seen so far?"

"Who do I have to see?"

"I saw them last year."

"I saw them last week."

"I saw them yesterday."

"I saw them earlier today."

"I've loved them for years."

"I loved them years ago."

"I loved the first EP they put out but I haven't liked anything since."

"I used to love that band."

"Are they still around?"

"I saw them, I wasn't impressed."

"Oh, you LIKE that band?"

"This line is ridiculous!"

"Which line are you in?"

"Am I in the right line?"

"What is this line for?"

"Who are you all lined up to see?"

"Never heard of them."

"Who is that?"

"Where is that?"

"What time do they go on?"

"What time is it?"

"Where are we right now?"

"Where are you right now?"

"Why won't these cabs stop?!?!"

"How long ago did you call the cab?"

"What's the number for the cab?"

"Is there another cab company?"

"Uber charged me $50 to ride from Lamar to 35!"

"Public transit in this city is a joke!"

"$7 ATM fee?!?"

"$7 Lone Star?!?"

"$7 cover?!"

"Is this free?"

"What's free?"

"Where's the free food?"


"Breakfast tacos."



"What time did you get in line?"

"What time should we get in line?"

"How long have you been in line?"

"Is this the end of the line?"

"What do all of these lines me?"

"Why is that guy smelling his key?"

"Why are those guys all taking turns smelling that key?

"I just want to sit down."

"Where is there someplace that we could sit?"

"Is there a place to eat nearby that also has a seat?"

"Why doesn't this Wendy's have a dining room?!??"

"Don't sit there that's gross!"

"My feet hurt."

"My legs hurt."

"I have a headache."

"Who was that?"

"Who's next?"

"Who's this?"

"What's the name of this band?"

"What is this place normally?"

"Remember when that was a parking lot?"

"Remember when that was a building?"

"Should we stay for the next band?"

"How long should we stay?"

"How long have we been here?"

"My phone's almost dead."

"My phone's dead."

"I have no bars."

"My phone service isn't even trying to work."

"Do you have a charger?"

"I need to find an outlet!"

"This alley smells like pee!"

"Keep watch, I'm going to pee behind this dumpster."

"I drank too much."

"I need to throw up."

"I just threw up, we need to get out of here."

"Future Islands."

"St. Vincent."

"Perfect Pussy."


"Secret show."

"After show."

"House party."

"After party."

"Invite only."


"South by jumped the shark."

"South by's gotten too corporate."

"South by's lost its spirit."

"South by's not as important as it used to be."

"So tired."

"So drunk."

"So sore."

"Wish I could have seen ________."

"Bummed I missed ___________."

"Next year I'm going to do _________."

"Not sure I'm going back next year."

"Can't wait for next year!"

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Monday, March 17, 2014

SXSW 2014: The Moral High-Ground

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary music wristband to SXSW so that I could cover it for this blog. Also, I get guest-listed to a lot of shows here in town and as you can see there is a Google Ad or two on this page. No one tells me what to cover or how to cover it but in the rest of this post I'm going to judge you for not spending enough money on the music industry so, I want to be very plain about the areas in which I am being hypocritical in this arena. I would also add that I subscribe to Spotify, have a collection of band T-shirts and own far more records than any person deserves. Now that all of that is out in the open, I'm going to start the scolding. If you're not into reading, you should just bail now because this is gonna get wordy y'all!

Most of the major media coverage about this year's SXSW festival has been the same Human Centipede that created this monster in the first place. It was decided before the festival even started that Lady Gaga was a bad fit and "forcing" people to jump through hoops/stand in lines to see one of the biggest artists in the world was somehow less ethical than say, working for a consultant-controlled, corporately-run radio station for instance. Once that narrative was set, it was easy for journalists from the New York Times, Billboard, Esquire and any number of outlets to focus all of their attention on the big names while rolling their eyes and complaining that the discovery element was lost to the corporate madness.

That's a great story, and an easy narrative to weave. It's an especially easy narrative to weave when you're going to all of the corporately sponsored gigs as a VIP and not even trying to go see lesser-known artists. The real problem isn't SXSW per se, it's a question of what is valuable in the music industry. I wait tables to pay my bills and in the service industry we have a phrase we call, "The Verbal Tip." That's when a customer goes out of their way to make eye contact and tell you that everything was great, that the service was fantastic, they can't wait to come back and then you get a 10% or less tip.

As a culture, we have been verbally tipping the music industry since the late 90's. Most people I encounter love to say how they are HUGE music fans and they listen to EVERYTHING. They'll tell you how important this artist, or that album was to their lives or how a key lyric inspired a major change in them. Then they'll tell you how they use the free version of Spotify/Pandora/YouTube/etc. but it's ok because they spent $10 to talk through one of the band's performances one time. Check out the selfie I took, you can see the band in the background because I turned my back to them while they were playing so I could take this photo.

In the weeks and months leading up to SXSW we scour the internet, making sure that our name is on every list for every party. We watch a free performance from a band, whose MP3 we downloaded from Hype Machine, while eating free tacos and drinking free liquor. Then we deride SXSW for being too corporate. We refuse to give our "favorite" bands our own-money then we criticize them for taking money from corporations.

I got heated last week because I saw a tweet from a young lady, whom I am sure is just a doll in person, but she tweeted that SXSW was the worst experience she had ever had as a music journalist. That tweet hit several of my hot buttons. First of all, unless you're using the upside-down triangle, writing pieces that are printed on actual paper maybe you should just keep that "music journalist" proclamation to yourself. Secondly, don't call whatever bullshit events you've been attending "SXSW" unless it's ACTUALLY SXSW. Just because you got on a plane and decided to wing-it in Austin DURING SXSW doesn't mean you can actually write shit about the festival itself. I'm sure your piece on how drunk you got at Willie Nelson's ranch was highly-entertaining and got your site plenty of hits but what are you bringing to the conversation? You came to Austin for SXSW, you left Austin, you drank free moonshine, then you came home. What an excellent piece of music journalism! Thank God you flew all the way from Queens.

That little piece of the conversation seems to be getting pushed toward the way-side lately. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about SXSW and what they are really talking about is all of the parties that happen at the same time. Also, don't complain about the lack of discovery if you're just following the herds. If you're standing in a line that's 100 people long, all you're discovering is last year's hottest artists. If you're a "music journalist" coming to Austin to cover SXSW you might be interested in checking out a SXSW music showcase? Maybe I'm wrong about that though.

I can tell you from my own coverage of the festival this year that the posts that got the most hits for me were the least-journalistic pieces. I wrote 8-10 pieces highlighting "discovery" artists from around the globe, representing a variety of genres and no one gave a single fuck. The piece that received the most attention on this site was the piece that was nothing more than a series of single sentences of imagined dialogue.

I watched full or partial sets (at least three songs) from around fifty bands this year. I went to a variety of venues to see a variety of artists. I went to some day-parties (non-RSVP) but mostly spent time at official showcases. I was able to see a different band every hour, at a different venue, without waiting in any lines several nights running. Out of all of those official showcases I only saw print journalists at one event, that was Perfect Pussy at Red 7 and we all know they were only there because NPR decided they were worth covering so the human centipede of coverage was perpetuated.

My no standing in line, no drinking free drinks policy was tough to maintain. I missed an artist or two that I would like to have seen but I also saw some great artists from all over the globe that weren't even on my radar. The key to my strategy was choosing venues wisely. I LOVE Mohawk and Red 7 but during SXSW that's where the more established artists perform so the venues have more lines and are more crowded. Same goes for Hype Hotel. First of all, they don't acknowledge me as one of their elite bloggers because I don't post free Mp3s on my site. Second of all, as I alluded to earlier in the post I'm not trying to "discover" the most blogged about artists according to some blog-aggregate. Lastly, I love tacos as much as the next guy but isn't the whole "Feed the Beat/Doritos Tacos Locos" the original SXSW shark jump?

The one thing I think we can all agree on, is there needs to be a paradigm shift and it's not going to happen without less verbal tipping. If music is really as important to your life as you claim it is, then you need to attach a value to it. Is it worth $10/month for the paid version of Spotify? Is it worth $20 a week to buy a new record or two? Is it worth the $150-$200 for a SXSW wristband? Is it worth the roughly $300 for an ACL or FunFunFun pass? Is it worth $5 to see 5 local bands at a place like Beerland that gives the artist 100% of the door? If your answer to these questions is no, it's not worth it. Then you have no right to complain about corporate money taking over the music industry. If you don't want your favorite artists to become corporate shills then buy one of their shirts when you see them on the road, grab their CD at your local record shop, start your own blog and help promote your favorite artists.

The last point I want to make has to do with the title of this post. If you've made your career in terrestrial radio, which isn't about discovery of new artists, doesn't pay artists royalties, accepts cash, gifts, and trips from promoters and record labels in exchange for spins then maybe you should cool-it-out with your above-reproach moralism. I look forward to reading your article about how Doritos ruined SXSW in the advertisement-free magazine you work for as well.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

SXSW 2014 Film: Pulp

As a brit-pop fan since High School, I was very excited to hear that a documentary about Pulp was premiering at SXSW. I was not prepared for what a great concert film I just saw. I was expecting a film that documented the band members as children and talked about how they formed and all of their milestones but that is not what this film is at all. In a sense the filmmaker assumes you know that stuff and even if you don't it's not really important to the story. The film's focus is on the band's "final" gig, a big hometown show in the industrial city of Sheffield, England. Rather than get caught up in all of the minutia of interviewing schoolyard chums, former roadies and all of that business the filmmaker interviews the people that give the city its character. We meet Pulp fans of varying degrees and we get to know the city that informed the band's sound. The film also shows how the band's music has become so much larger than the band itself. Jarvis Cocker's lyrics have inspired books, classes and any number of enthusiastic choral arrangements.

Without a doubt, Pulp was one of the best contemporary concert films I have ever seen. If you enjoyed the LCD Soundsystem documentary, then you have to see Pulp.

I hate to tell y'all this but the Pulp documentary is only showing ONCE MORE at SXSW but don't fret because you can bet your ass this fine film will return to Austin at some point this year. In the meantime, you can still catch it at 7pm Wednesday night at the Stateside.

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SXSW 2014 Film: The Possibilities Are Endless

You may already be aware of the singer Edwyn Collins but what you may not know is that he suffered from a serious stroke. The film, The Possibilities Are Endless documents Collins' journey from the debilitating haze of brain trauma back to a more normal existence. Don't be fooled though, this is not your typical music documentary. The filmmakers' goal was to make an artistic film that felt like an extension of songwriting.

Most songwriters don't plainly lay out their message, they reveal it in codes and symbols leaving it up to the listener to create their own interpretations. The Possibilities Are Endless was done in a similar style. Rather than point a camera at a subject and let them speak, the subject's words are matched with beautiful, lyrical images that visually interpret the stories. This isn't a journalistic approach to documentary filmmaking, it's more abstract and emotional. It takes the viewer through the confusion and the fog and the fear and eventually back to the core of the artist, which is his art.

The Possibilities are Endless - Official Trailer

Art has the power to heal and regardless of obstacles, an artist must create art. In spite of everything that life had to throw at Edwyn Collins he remained a true artist and an inspiration. This film doesn't just show us the journey, it walks us down the path.

The Possibilities are Endless screens twice more during the festival. If you don't have official credentials the screening at Village is your best bet for rush tickets.

Tuesday, March 11 | 2:00PM - 3:22PM | Alamo Village

Thursday, March 13 | 7:00PM - 8:22PM | AMC Theater at VCC

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SXSW 2014 Film:Big Significant Things

Big Significant Things is the sort of film you make in your late 20's when you feel like you'll never do shit with your life and you're scared. At its heart it's a roadtrip film married to a coming of age film but unfortunately it's not a very good film. The themes are highly indentifiable and there were some great acting performances but there was far too much meandering. The protagonist meanders and the story meanders. I get what the film was trying to say but I don't think the filmmaker has developed their filmic vocabulary well enough yet. With that being said, I didn't walk out of this film and I wasn't miserable. I think that it's a very fine first film and that this filmmaker will go on to make great films within the next few years. However, when asked what I thought about this film yesterday after seeing it my response was, "I loved the Title Sequence and the Fonts!" To me, that says it all.

You only have two more chances to see Big Significant Things at SXSW 2014 and one of those chances is 90 minutes from now. So, if this brief review made you want to rush out and see this film, you better get some pants on now.

Sunday, March 9 | 11:00AM - 12:25PM | Alamo Slaughter

Wednesday, March 12 | 4:30PM - 5:55PM | Alamo Ritz 2

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SXSW 2014 Film: Buzzard

I recognize that the SXSW film, Buzzard isn't for everyone but it's definitely for me. If history is fair, which it's not, Buzzard will be revered in the same way that Slacker was revered as a film that encapsulates the feelings of a generation. This dark-comedy follows a young man who is constantly trying to game a system that has failed him. His job is shit, his apartment is shit, his friends are shit and his decision-making skills are shit. In other words he is me and he is all of my friends. Marty spends the film making selfish decisions and doing his best to avoid their consequences. I don't want to summarize too much because I feel like there are so many great scenes that could be easily spoiled.

Buzzard - Official Trailer

You still have three more chances to see Buzzard at SXSW 2014 but it was also picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories so even those of you not at the festival will get the chance to see this film soon.

Sunday, March 9 | 9:45PM - 11:22PM | Alamo Village

Thursday, March 13 | 7:00PM - 8:37PM | Alamo Ritz 1

Friday, March 14 | 7:00PM - 8:37PM | Rollins Theatre at The Long Center

If you're a local without credentials, this evening's screening of Buzzard at Slaughter is your best bet. It'll cost you $10 and you'll have to wait for tickets in the Rush line but I feel like your odds of getting in are fairly decent.

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SXSW 2014 Film: Documentary Short Program 1

The great thing about a shorts program is the films are short. If it's a good film, it feels even shorter or makes you wish it were full length. If it's not a good film, at least it didn't waste a bunch of your time. There were six shorts in the program I watched at SXSW yesterday. The films varied in their subject matter and length but all of them were at least entertaining. The worst of the six was the shortest and it wasn't bad, it just felt like a web video. My favorite was Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, which was the longest film in the set but also the most engaging. The subject matter was interesting and the film itself was very well-done. I would most certainly watch a full-length feature about or inspired by the artist Kehinde Wiley.

Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace - Official Trailer video via YouTube

Obviously, I'm a big music nerd so I was excited to see short films about the New Orleans Bounce scene, a DFA Records documentary, and a very short film about kid-metal group Unlocking the Truth. The Unlocking the Truth documentary definitely could have been longer. Since, the group played FunFunFun Fest last year I feel like there is a lot more to their story than what was in the short documentary but I suspect that festival appearance happened after this film was shot.

There was also a documentary about an openly gay baseball player who INVENTED THE HIGH FIVE. Isn't that crazy? Someone was the first person to give a high five and it turns out that dude was gay. As a gay man, I will think of this film whenever I see a Republican giving a high five. I'll think, I wonder if he/she knows how gay that is?

The feature in this program that I have yet to mention was a documentary about Shephard Fairey. I love art documentaries and I think Shephard Fairey is a really interesting person but this really should have been a feature-length documentary. The film makers crammed WAY too much story into this short, which made it feel like a trailer or show about a movie. It either needed more focus or more screen-time.

There are about a billion shorts playing at SXSW and I highly recommend checking them out especially if they're showing at the Topfer, which was very posh.

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