Saturday, June 20, 2009

St. Vincent Weekend in Austin

So, as you probably already know by now. St. Vincent is in town right now. She played an in-store at Waterloo Records yesterday afternoon with a headlining set at the Mohawk's outside stage. I didn't attend the Waterloo performance but I was at the VERY sold-out Mohawk last night.

St. Vincent - Actor Out of Work video via YouTube

Read all about my show experience after the jump y'all...

All day yesterday I was excited about seeing St. Vincent then dinner time rolls around and I got all caught up in domestic-type duties. Next thing you know it's 9:30p and I'm effing with the dishwasher, my boyfriend ask, "Aren't you going to that show tonight?"

At this point panic sets in because I realized Pattern Is Movement would be on stage in 15 minutes and I live 20 minutes from downtown. Also, it's always a pain to find a parking space after 9p on a Friday night. So I rush down to the show pay for parking (boo) and head over to the venue. I still had the extra ticket though, so I decided I would stash the ticket and give clues via Twitter so someone would find it. Long story short no one found the dang ticket, I put a picture and specified, where it was and everything but it was too close to show time for that happy business.

St. Vincent - Now, Now video via YouTube

The 'Hawk was so crowded there was virtually no place to comfortably stand and see the show simultaneously and that's coming from a 6'2" tall dude. All those women who are 5'5"-5'7" I always wonder if they have ever really seen a concert before or if they just sort of hear it and catch glimpses through people's heads/bodies?

So, anyway the whole time leading up to St. V taking the stage I was watching my ticket stash spot and no one really seemed to notice. I few people actually walked within millimeters or it without noticing the reflective stripe. After awhile St. Vincent came out and I sort of forgot all about the ticket until she played Save Me, From What I want. For whatever reason that song reminded me so I walked over to the balcony and yelled down to people on the sidewalk. I told them where the ONE ticket was sitting, they seemed confused more than excited. This is the best part though, after all that waiting for someone to find it and it ends up that a group of 5 heard me yell and all went for the ticket. No one rushed or was rude or anything it was very mature, they just sort of strolled over to it, picked up the lone ticket and began a great debate. I watched the debate for awhile but then grew board with it. I wonder, which, of the five people ended up inside the packed house?

St. Vincent - Save Me, From What I Want video via YouTube

Word from a former employee, who was at the Mohawk earlier in the day said that St. V's sound tech took two hours doing the sound-check. They also made the Happy Hour DJ turn off their music so they could get absolute concentration. This may seem silly/bitchy/unnecessary but the sound was really good last night. The only downside to the sound was the sound bleeding over from Club Deville. I was standing at the side-stage/middle deck area for awhile last night but the sound from next door was ruining the experience, especially considering I couldn't see anything as it was.

The crowd was definitely a "hometown" crowd, this wasn't a show where the artist was trying to win an audience over. This was a triumphant, victory lap show, in other words she was pretty much preaching to the choir last night and the choir gave an, "Amen!" I'd say the 13 song setlist was fairly evenly split betweeen her two LPs, she opened with the title track from Marry Me, which I just read was a reference to the show Arrested Development. Remember when Maeby was a movie exec and she would respond, "Marry Me!" whenever flustered/backed in a corner? I guess that inspired St. Vincent to use the phrase.

Speaking of Marry Me I looked out over the see of people last night as she played Now, Now and I saw countless love-struck faces. It was sort of hilarious staring out into this see of adoring puppy-dog eyes. I think each person there was thinking, "If only she would talk to me she'd now how perfect we could be together. *sigh*" This isn't limited to any specific gender or sexual orientation. I think even some of us gay men were a bit enamored with this beautiful woman, with the voice of an angel who plays the devil's guitar.

St. Vincent - The Strangers video via YouTube

The performance was riveting overall, the 4-6 instrumentalists on stage did an excellent job of re-creating all of the textures from the albums. The only down sides to the experience are atmospheric. There was the already-mentioned sound bleeding, and the lack of good places to see the stage from but by far the WORST thing about MOST shows I attend in Austin is the lack of reverence. Yes you are at a bar, yes you're friends are here, yes this is a good-times/party atmosphere HOWEVER it is also an artistic performance. So if people could try to impress their dates with their witty banter BETWEEN sets I'd appreciate it, thanks. This was mostly a problem on the Mohawk's upper-patio the pit/floor area was too crowded for chattiness/living.

All in all the whole thing just made me ridiculously excited to see the perfection that is St. Vincent within the perfection that is the Austin City Limits television sound-stage tonight. I just read that the capacity of ACL TV is roughly 325 and I know for a fact that you can see from everywhere in there, there won't be ANY sound-bleeding, or chatting. YAY!! Oh yeah and the temperature will be perfectly air-conditioned. Seeing ACL TV in person has totally spoiled me now, but I'm Ok with that.

So did anybody see St. V twice yesterday? Anyone seeing her three times while she's here in Austin?

Sorry this is rambly...again but I just wanted to tell you a really funny overheard @ the Mohawk moment. This convo took place between 2 dude-bras:

DB1: "She's SOO hot!!"

DB2: "I can't see her!"

DB1: "You've seen pictures."

DB2: "Oh yeah, she's hot."

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Friday, June 19, 2009

ABL's Rambling Re-Launch-ish

You may, or may not have noticed that AustinBloggyLimits has been short on updates the last two weeks. Well there are several reasons for that. First and foremost being hey it looks different now. I thought the old look was a bit dark so I went with this weird banana pudding look. You like?

Man, I have so many things to tell y'all so this isn't going to be a typical AustinBloggyLimits post. I'm going to be a bit scatter-brained trying to relay two weeks worth of somewhat interesting stories.

I'm going to start by saying congratulations to one of AustinBloggyLimits' favorite local bands, Harlem as they were signed to an international record deal with Matador Records. That's a pretty big deal if you ask me. Hopefully it means there will be more free, promotional Harlem material from now on. *fingers crossed*

Harlem - Witchgreens video via YouTube

Part of me wants to split these stories across a few posts but instead I'm just going to quickly vomit out some highlights of my music life in the past two weeks.

Ok, I'm going to start with the sold-out Animal Collective show at Stubb's. I really wanted to go but didn't have tickets and refused to pay the outrageous scalper prices. At the last minute my Twitter tweeps hooked it up. Austin Kleon offered me a set of tickets "Radiohead Model" pay what you want. I ended up taking 1 ticket for $20 and giving Austin a ride to the show, but for the record he would have flat-out given me 2 tickets so, take that scalper d-bags!

As far as the show itself? I was entertained and inspired/intrigued by Animal Collective. They are doing something completely different with music. The show was more like performance art than a straight-up concert. Was it totally entertaining/engaging the whole time? No. Was it worth the $20? Hell yes! My personal highlight was hearing Lion in a Coma I like that song so much more now. I think Summertime Clothes got the biggest response from the crowd though.

Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes video via YouTube

The week after AC was somewhat uneventful other than dealing with day to day non-music bull and trying to straighten out/gay-up my site. Then THIS week I saw Grizzly Bear crossing the street in front of my car, later that night I saw them perform at the Parish Room. Here We Go Magic was the opening band and they did an excellent job.

Grizzly Bear - Fine For Now "video" via YouTube

For me the job of an opening band is to play a 30-45 minute set, in which time you should remind us the name of your band and latest album at least twice. This may seem awkward but a lot of people are showing up throughout the opening slot so.. self-promote opening bands! The other key factor for a "good opener" is that their music is similar or complimentary to the headlining band. Here We Go Magic covered all of these bases. They also saved their most-well-known songs for the end of the set. There is nothing worse than an opener that starts with their hit and then makes you listen to 40 more minutes of songs you don't know.

Here We Go Magic - Tunnelvision video via YouTube

Grizzly Bear was outstanding/beautiful/powerful. When I listen to the albums it's easy to get caught up in the most obvious elements, the singing/songwriting. In person though I was totally engrossed in the rhythm parts. Grizzly Bear has some amazingly thoughtful, soulful, powerful drum parts in their songs. It's like Sigur Ros where it's less about precision and more about mood, tone, feeling. Personal highlight for that show was hearing the, "Chin up, cheer up" crescendo/explosion from the song Lullaby, that was a transcendental moment for me. Oh yeah, and the sound at the Parish can only be out done by the sound at the next venue I went to.

Grizzly Bear - Lullaby video via YouTube

Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first live taping of Austin City Limits the TV show. Before I moved to Austin ACL was pretty much all any of my friends/family knew about Austin so it was quite moving to be on the set in real life. It is a lot smaller than I imagined it to be, and they give out free beer. Not enough to get drunk but enough to taste beer you didn't pay for. Austin locals Okkervil River performed in the KLRU studios and they played a career-spanning set. Touching upon songs from all of their albums from the last 8ish years. The crowd was very reverent, hanging on every note and leaving a space of silence before erupting into applause after each song.

Will Sheff & AC Newman - Lost Coastlines video via YouTube

In the above video AC Newman is singing Will Sheff's part. Okkervil played this twice for the ACL taping. Oh the magic of television. The sound on the Austin City Limits stage is impeccable. I promise you I have never attended a live performance with better sound in my life! I was worried because I forgot my earplugs but they were not needed. I could understand every word that was sung, I heard every bass note clearly and every pluck of every stringed instrument was full and rich. I was so used to muddy bass tones and washed out vocals I sort of forgot what a live performance SHOULD sound like. You hear that downtown?!?! Louder doesn't mean better, and when the bass is so loud it effs up my breathing I'm not entertained. The other super-pleasant thing about the ACL taping was the air conditioning. I haven't been to a concert that was so temperate since I lived in New England.

Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines video via YouTube

Get it? They played Lost Coastlines twice so I posted it twice. The truly crazy thing about the ACL taping is I have tried to get into that show for three years and somehow this week I'm going twice. Like that old expression says, "When it rains, it pours." Oh, and for those who don't know, that other guy singing on Lost Coastlines is the lead singer of Shearwater and he used to be in Okkervil River but now he is just a "guest" and he performed at the taping too.

Shearwater - the Snow Leopard video via YouTube

So, that's what I've been up to. I wonder if anyone will read this I haven't updated in so long y'all probably gave up on me. I'm back though, so come and see me and tell your friend(s) too.

Before I sign off I forgot to mention, I had a spare ticket to see Grizzly Bear and ended up selling it to, Toto, the drummer from the Octopus Project. How Austin is that?

the Octopus Project - Truck video via YouTube

Oh and when I was at the Animal Collective show I was standing amongst members of Harlem and Electric Touch. It was such a "scene" environment complete with dude-bras and uber-hipsters who just show up to chat and make fun of people/places/things/nouns.

Electric Touch - Love in Our Hearts video via YouTube

Speaking of chatting, if you happen to have the chance to see Grizzly Bear in concert do you think you could shut the eff up while they're performing? That was so annoying I wanted to collectively slap people. I don't get spending money to try and talk OVER a band? There's like 1.3billion bars in Austin pick one without an amazing band if you feel like getting your chat on. Oh, and could the dude-bras lay off the Axe body spray PULEASE!?!?

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