Friday, October 2, 2009

Mos/Def K'Naan, ACLTV, Last Night

Well I've been trying to figure out how I'm gonna play this, given that it is ACL Festival weekend. One route to take would be to let you know who to see when and where but I just feel like there is a glut of that sort of information as it is. So I'll tell you about the Austin City Limits Television taping I saw last night. Let's talk about the past because the future is scary and Back to the Future 2 filled us all with unrealistic hopes/desires/expectations.

Last night, Austin City Limits Television studio was recognized by the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame as a landmark venue, integral to the narrative of Rock. There was a ceremony outside a plaque was unveiled, it was all very beautiful and moving. Well, not really but it was pretty cool in a ceremonial sort of way. That was followed by ACL TV's first, ever, foray into hip-hop. It was a split taping, which I'd never been to before, with Somalian-native K'Naan taking the first set and, the legendary, Mos Def taking the second set.

K'Naan - Somalia video via YouTube

The rest of the review is after the jump...

I had heard a lot of good buzz about K'Naan, he played a powerhouse SXSW showcase for NPR in March, but I still hadn't actually heard his music. After last night, I must say he stole the show. I was WAY more excited to see Mos Def before the taping and after the taping I was only thinking about K'Naan. His energy was so humble and his songs were uplifting and interesting. I would say it's somewhat like Manu Chao crossed with the Roots. There was some sampling used in the songs but it was mostly live instrumentation, including a really beautiful, acoustic/spoken word version of the track posted above.

Between sets was a drawn out process but my side of the crowd was really cool. We had someone who spontaneously organized the wave in our section. There was also a dance-off of sorts, which resulted in a couple's dance-off, which resulted in the whole crowd applauding and cheering. Did I mention there was free beer as well? Also, at one point I def smelled Mary Jane, I didn't SEE anyone smoking but i could smell it. That's a pretty risky/stupid maneuver IMHO but this is America...wait a minute that's illegal isn't it?

When Mos Def did come out, he was much shorter than I expected, he was also wearing a baseball cap, which obscured his face. He didn't really look at or speak to the crowd but, rather, walked directly to a drum kit and started playing standing up. In lieu of a full band, Mos came with 2 DJ's and the drum kit. After the first number the drums weren't really used much. He mostly did songs from his latest album, with a couple of brand new songs thrown in as well. He did loosen up a lot and did a Michael Jackson tribute, he took off the cap and jacket. He was sporting, too-short vintage tux pants, with argyle socks and some killer loafers. Not to mention some vintage-looking, asymmetrica, ivory suspenders. Accessories gentlemen, invest.

I'm, generally, pretty critical of live hip-hop as I find the sound-mixing has to be, pretty much, perfect if you want the crowd to hear/understand the emcee. In person, the best hip-hop acts I've seen, not-necessarily in order, are Jurassic 5, the Roots, and Nas. I have also seen Mos Def AND Talib Kweli as well as many others but they do not make my list, which is amazing to me because I would rank Mos & Talib's Black Star albums as ONE OF my favorite albums from any genre. Last night, at ACLTV, Mos's energy was flat. The sound-mixing is always superb at ACL but he still sounded lost in the mix as some points, which MIGHT have something to do with the DJ's each having their own mixers. Also, Mos's crowd-interaction, while not totally absent, still left a bit to be desired. It should also be mentioned that following K'Naan almost any artist might seem indifferent to their audience. K was telling stories and joking with the crowd, he got everyone to sing along to a song that I'm guessing most of us had never heard and it didn't feel disingenuous to me. That's saying a lot.

I still <3 Mos Def - Freestyling video via YouTube

People ask me how I get into ACLTV tapings and it's easier than you might think. I'll go through it for you though so we can hang out in line and talk about Twitter while we have indie-rock pissing contests. (It's funny 'cause it's true. BTW I totally saw that band before you did.)

So the first thing to do is troll the ACLTV Blog, here's the RSS, it's way easier for dorks like me. They'll post links for "Space Available Ticket" Giveaways. So, you just drop your name and e-mail address into the mysterious and magical interwebworks. Then bottle up all of your ACLTV hopes and dreams and put them under your pillow.

If you've done everything correctly in the bottling process and placed the bottle at an angle towards the western point of Orion's belt then you'll recieve an E-Mail from April Buchannan (Or possibly someone else, who know?) YAY!! She'll give you the low down on the who, when, where and, possibly, why. The where is diagonally across the street from Hole in the Wall but parking is less-than adequate, shall we say?

Now I'd advice you stand in line for at least 90 minutes before they pass out tickets. The cool part though, is you get two numbers and two tickets based on where you are in line. Then you can go do whatever for a couple of hours until the show, at which point you have your number in line. It's a smart system that should be adopted everywhere, including the deli at my local groceryplexmart.

Finally you are inside without any recording devices, your cell phone off and free beer(s) in hand(s). Now, try not to get kicked out and if you MUST get booted, for the love God, make a scene.

By the way, if you've made it this far in the post then thank you and congratulations you have a long attention span (At least for 2009). I just wanted to mention if you WERE looking here for the glut of Where2 and What2, may I suggest you check my fellow Austin Blogoratti on the side panel right? ---->

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rock Out in the Morning

So the Austin blogosphere is a buzz with ACL Fest after-parties but what about the pre-parties y'all? KGSR is hosting a series of live-performances for their morning show all weekend long, which of course starts on Thursday morning. If you want to see it live, hit Threadgill's World Headquarters in S. Austin it costs $5 to get in but all of that money goes to charity. So, you'll have that going for you already, which is nice. You can catch the full line-up of artists and times, keeping in mind that it's all "tentative". Don't worry about that though, KGSR are the kings/queens/benevolent-dictators of Adult-Alternative so even if they sub some artists out they won't give you anyone that is ridiculously awful. After all, this is being broadcast on the radio and interwebs for anyone to hear, for free!

David Garza will be kicking things off at 7:30am tomorrow.

Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom ft. David Garza - Let Me video via YouTube

You can find some of the artists to be showcased after the break. You won't believe the first one after the break...seriously for $5?!?! At 8am? What?!?! Wait a second, did that say 8am?

Not to sound like a hippie or anything, you can see how clean my feet are if you ever meet me in person, but Medeski, Martin & Wood?!?! For $5?!?! Srsly KGSR I <3 you so much right now. Let's hang out, call me. Oh, and if you are a hippie or just a person with dirty feet, nothing personal, we're still cool. Right?

Medeski, Martin & Wood - Uninvisible video via YouTube

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears are back in town and they'll be playing Threadgill's at 8am. Make sure you at least listen to that one on the radio if you can't get down there. Nothing says good morning like some punchy throw-back soul, and just to help you picture it, the horns you hear are not shiny and they look a little beat up. It's almost like you're there isn't it?

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears - Sugarfoot video via YouTube

That other cool band from Providence, The Low Anthem, ended up with the earliest time slot. They'll be playing at 7am Friday, which is, coincidentally, the time you may begin serving alcohol. Hmmm. Whadayaknow? I mean to imply nothing about the band's imbibing habits by that comment. They are stunning.

The Low Anthem - To The Ghosts Who Write History Books video via YouTube

I feel like I mentioned them yesterday but the Walkmen will also be playing Threadgills at 8:30am Friday morning.

the Walkmen - In the New Year video via YouTube

Have I told you there's going to be free food at this event too? Also, you might get to meet Andy Langer. Or, maybe, see him from afar and tell people you met him and he asked you to hang out at the fest for free but you didn't want to ditch your buds so you went to Taco Cabana and just chilled instead. Or not, that's your call, I'm just throwing out ideas here.

D-Bags - Chillin' at the Taco Cabana video via YouTube

By the way I was going to put a video for David Garza's biggest hit, Butterflies above the break but the ones with good sound have copyrighted images that put the song in a weird context. So, instead I've buried it way down here.


David Garza - Butterflies video via YouTube

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pre ACL Foder

I'm calling out Wednesday as the first unofficial day of Austin City Limits Fest. Why is that? Because I effing say so that's why! No, but seriously, I'm saying Wednesday simply because Them Crooked Vultures will be taping their Austin City Limits Television appearance on Wed. night. If you didn't already sign up for the space available ticket lotto then you're probably not going. But that's ok, dear reader, you can still catch Them Crooked Vultures at Stubb's on Thursday night. The ticket's gonna set you back half a Benjamin but is there really a price on the value of that particular concert experience? Turns out there is and it's about $50. Cough it up!

Them Crooked Vultures - Nobody Love Me and Neither Do I (Teaser) video via YouTube

I'm also calling at Wed. as Day 1 of ACL Fest 'cause that's the first day that you'll really start to notice the first wave of tourists. Traffic will be a bit denser on Wed. The people in front of you will be looking around and pointing a lot. It's all very exciting.

I wanted to post "official" Them Crooked Vultures videos, because something tells me the ole' Websheriff is going to be all over this band. The unfortunate part about that is all of the official promotional things are snippets for those of us who have short attention sp

Them Crooked Vultures - Elephants (teaser) video via YouTube

In reality, Thursday night is the TRUE unofficial first night of ACL. It's the first night of official and unofficial pre-parties action. There are so many bands and so much to feature on Thursday night that it's a bit overwhelming even for someone as Bloggy as I. But, fear not, we can talk about all of that in a more involved post soon. For now he's just ONE alternative if you can't swing a $50 Them Crooked Vultures ticket...

The Walkmen - Four Provinces video via YouTube

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