Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekend Shows You Should See

ACL Fest is but a memory at this point and Fun Fun Fun Fest is just around the corner, in the meantime there are several really great shows going on THIS weekend including some fantastic local bands performing. For tonight, I want to recommend a show happening at, the newly opened, Holy Mountain. This venue has taken over the spot formerly occupied by Beauty Bar on East 7th street, next to Red 7. They officially opened there doors last week, hosting a couple of ACL Fest Late Night Shows. Tonight they host My Jerusalem's CD Release Party. Tickets for the show are only $12, which is a bargain considering all of the local talent performing. Obviously, My Jerusalem are headlining with an 11:30pm set time but they'll be joined by two great bands in the form of The Sour Notes and Mirror Travel. For those of you who don't know, Mirror Travel is the new name of the band formerly known as Follow that Bird.

My Jerusalem - Preachers video via YouTube

If you're more in the makin dat ass vibrate mood than the nodding your head mood. Glitoris is hosting Lady at Beauty Ballroom tonight. So, you can get sweaty and twerk it on the dancefloor. This show is close to selling out though, get your tickets before they gone!

Lady - Twerk video via YouTube

Saturday night there are a lot of shows to choose from both local and national acts big and small. My first recommendation for Saturday night is Hospitality at Red 7. I caught their live show at SXSW this year and they really deliver. They won't be jumping around the stage or wearing ridiculous outfits but they will be playing their incredibly catchy songs perfectly. Don't be fooled by their sometimes cutesy tunes, this band has some serious musicians. Tickets are $8 if you buy them today but tomorrow they go up to $10. That is a ridiculous bargain for a touring act signed to Merge Records.

Hospitality - Eighth Avenue video via YouTube

While we're talking about touring acts perform at bargain basement prices, Dark, Dark, Dark perform at Holy Mountain tomorrow. Tickets for that show are also a mere $10. Their latest record, Who Needs Who probably should have been called Who Needs Whom but it's not and it's good and you should listen to it, even if you choose to go to a different show tomorrow.

Dark Dark Dark - Tell Me video via YouTube

If you do go to the Dark Dark Dark show at Holy Mountain I suggest you arrive early enough to catch support act, Emily Wells. She is a one-woman, electo-orchestral powerhouse. Her latest record Mama is about to have a companion release full of remixes from artists such as The Blow, Lemonade and Deerhoof. You can listen to Mama Remixed now on Soundcloud.

Austin-favorites Matt and Kim will play their largest non-festival Austin show to date at Stubb's tomorrow evening. Their latest record, Lightning was just released and features more high-energy, uber-fun songs that will be sure to have the crowd at Stubb's going wild. Tickets for Matt and Kim are $25 and they'll be joined by Oberhofer who were just here last week for ACL Festival.

The last show I'm recommending for tomorrow night is TV Torso's CD Release show at Hotel Vegas. TV Torso is one of my favorite local bands and I was actually completely unaware that they had a new album due out. They do have a 3-track album on their Bandcamp page that was uploaded 10 days ago but I'm not sure if that's just a sampler of a full-length or if that is the CD being released?

So, there you have it. Plenty of great shows to choose from, be safe out there Austin and always remember to shut the fuck up while the band is playing.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Perfume Genius at Central Presbyterian

The music of Perfume Genius is dark, brooding and personal. Piano-driven songs about family, love and melancholy that draw you in. Mike Hadreas' voice is fragile but strong and the band that supports him known exactly how to compliment his songs without overwhelming the compositions. This is not Perfume Genius' first trip through Austin but it is their first time playing a venue that so perfectly suits their lovely chamber pop. The latest release from Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It has a name that implies a much more dance-oriented vibe than what you can expect from the live show. The fact that the show is taking place at Central Presbyterian Church should tell you everything you need to know. Tickets for tomorrow night's show are only $15 and the show is not sold-out yet. The venue is pretty large and spectacular so if you're thinking you have even the smallest interest in this event I highly suggest you fork over the cash.

Perfume Genius - Take Me Home video via YouTube

Doors for tomorrow night's show will open at 7pm and Dusted will take the stage at 8pm. The latest record from Dusted is out now on Polyvinyl Records.

Dusted - There Somehow video via YouTube

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

AustinBloggyLimits Presents: Woods and Widowspeak

I'm so excited to be presenting my first show. I'm a big fan of Woods, Widowspeak and Red 7 so when the opportunity arose to present these two bands at that venue I knew it was fated. Woods' latest LP Bend Beyond is their most polished effort to date. They haven't abandoned their old sound they have just found a new way of capturing it. The songs sound a bit slicker without losing their old psychedelic feel and the production better captures the sense of seeing Woods perform live.

Tickets for the show are only $12 if you buy them in advance or $14 on the day of the show but I have two pair of tickets to give away. This is going to be an unusually "complicated" contest for this site. I want you do design a cool show poster. I'm not looking for you to screen-print or anything, I'm just talking about a digital poster that I can put on this site and Twitter and such. Two people will have their poster selected, which will get them each on the guest list with a plus one to next Wednesday's show. If you want to use my logo it's there in the upper-right hand side of the page, you don't have to use it but it would be nice. Oh, and just attach your digital poster to an e-mail with the subject, "ABL Presents" to Contest[at]austinbloggylimits[dot]com.

This contest in its original state is, apparently, offensive to designers. I thought it might be a fun thing for amateurs but in the interest of keeping things civil I'll just do what I usually do. E-Mail the above address with subject "ABL Presents" and tell me why you should get the tickets. Include your name as it appears on your ID.

Woods - Bend Beyond video via YouTube

Woods are the official headliners for next week's show but I would actually call this a double-bill. Ever since I first heard Widowspeak I was in love. I listened to three tracks from their LP, I turned it off and drove to End of an Ear to buy their Self-Titled record on vinyl. I saw them earlier this year at 29th St. Ballroom and their live performance held up to my very high expectations. Widowspeak is soundtrack music. They don't just create music, they create vibes and you'll want to be in that imaginary film next Wednesday. Also, if this is your first time hearing of Widowspeak I implore you to listen to their album even if you don't end up going to the show.

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Contest: Here We Go Magic with Oh No Oh My

Photo Credit: Gregory Mitnick

I'm sure many of you are still experience an ACL Fest hangover but everyone knows that the best cure for a hangover is a hair of the dog that bit ya. Also, it's time to get back in the saddle and experience what's really great about Austin, I'll give you a hint it has nothing to do with standing in a field amongst tens of thousands of people to watch a 90's stalwart. No, what I'm referring to is the intimate experience of being face to face with an up-and-coming artist in a small venue. Well, tomorrow night is the perfect time to experience exactly what I'm talking about. Emo's is presenting a show at the Parish with Here We Go Magic Wednesday night and I want you to be there. Tickets are still available and they'll be cheaper today than tomorrow. HOWEVER, I get to put one person on the guest list with a +1. Will it be you? As usual, the rules are simple: Send an email to Contest[at]austinbloggylimits[dot]com with "HWGM" in the subject and you name in the body along with a reason why you should get on the list.

Here We Go Magic - How Do I Know video via YouTube.

One of my favorite local bands, Oh No Oh My, will be playing the support slot so be sure to show up early enough to hear them play. I love their brand of indie-pop and I think you will too. Oh, and one more note about Here We Go Magic you should pick up A Different Ship on vinyl while you're at the show. Even though it's not fancy and it's not 180 grams it is one of the best sounding pieces of vinyl I've bought all year. Secretly Canadian knows what's up. Also, that record is fucking awesome so you should have it in your collection anyway.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

ACL 2012: Full Wrap-Up (TLDR)

It's Monday, and the city of Austin is starting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The junior high and high school kids who were smoking pot while listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers are back in class and the babies with Nascar headphones are back to whatever babies do in their non-festival time. The tailgaters in their fold-up chairs who were sitting under the giant tree nowhere near the music are probably sitting on a chair in their living room reading the same book they read at the festival. I am at my trusty computer banging out some words that will try to give you a sense of my impressions of ACL Festival 2012.

This was my third year attending ACL Fest so I was already prepared in a lot of ways for what to expect. This year, I tried to have a positive outlook and think about the festival experience in a different way. I tried to see it through the eyes of a festival fan rather than a music fan. It worked for quite some time, I thought about how a music festival is a self-contained city and that made the whole thing seem more interesting somehow. I enjoyed the music and I was even mildly entertained by the people watching. At some point I realized that the whole thing about a music festival is that the music is only part of the experience and to most people it's one of the most insignificant parts of the experience. Especially when you're talking about the lesser-known performers.

I don't have a lot of money to throw around so throughout the weekend I would see people sleeping in their lawn chairs or camped out far away from any of the music and I would wonder why they spent $200 to be at the park. I still sort of wonder about that but I have some theories. First, maybe those are the people who own the free-roaming Middle-Schoolers I kept seeing? When I was in Middle-School I wasn't even allowed to go to the mall unattended so, I would presume those kids' parents were somewhere in the park...hopefully. It would make sense to say, "Ok, junior you and your fellow tweens can roam free just check back in at this tree every hour so I not you're not too drunk." My other theory is that they are straight-up tailgaters. They enjoy the community of fellow chair-dwellers, they bring a budget that can afford them $10 domestic cans and they just want to chat and get drunk. My last theory is that they just want to be there for the headliners so the rest of the day they are content to simply be in the park, sleeping so that they can wake up enough to hear Neil Young when his set starts.

I realize the other side to the festival experience is the group-think theory. Many of the people who were in attendance this weekend were part of a large group of friends who are all making the experience a group-bonding experience. These are your flag-bearers. The people who are looking away from the stage trying to find the rest of their friends wearing squid caps with big bras on a pole obstructing the views of people behind them. These are the people who I imagine are having the most fun at a music festival. They are in their own world with their group, perhaps they are making friends with other like-minded individuals swapping STI's with strangers and all of that. I do believe that they are there for the music in some sense but they are not hardcore music fans by any means. They want to possibly discover a new artist or hear the song they know by an artist. They want to be close enough to post good photos on In-Your-Face-book and many of them are quite successful.

I could write an entire blog post on inappropriate footwear for music festivals. The flip-flops and sandals will never cease to amaze me. You're entrusting 65,000+ drunken music fans to NOT step on your feet? Are you crazy? Along those same lines, the shoe-less people also intrigue me. What message are you sending? Do you care so much about your shoes that you'd rather just get a foot infection? Are you trying to re-create the Woodstock vibes? Are you just that high?

I was struck by the number of ladies wearing lace-backed shirts this year. I think that is a very clever trend. It is fashion with function and I fully approve. Normally, I hate those stupid fishing shirts on men but I think the festival environment is perfect for those as well. I hate wearing hats but a good hat is also ideal for the festival environment. I certainly saw some that were outrageously ridiculous but they were also functional.

The costume people make my heart hurt. Are they only children? Did they stop breastfeeding too soon? What would possess someone to say to themselves, you know what would be even better than standing in direct sunlight in a field for 12 hours? Standing in direct sunlight in a field with a rubber unicorn head! Clearly, these people are seeking attention and will suffer to receive that attention. More power to them but seriously WTF?!?!

Let's talk about the transportation for a minute. Obviously, there is no parking at or near Zilker park. You can't park in the neighborhood near it and anything resembling an area to park is charging you at least $20 to leave your car nearby. I recommend using Austin's city bus system but they refuse to increase service so, you could end up waiting at a stop just to have the bus fly by. C3 presents does offer free shuttles but those take you between the park and downtown. A great idea in theory except that parking in downtown Austin sucks all day, every day, all year long. I propose that C3 pays CapMetro to run three times as many busses that normally use the Zilker-adjacent route and have them run longer on Sunday. In addition, rather than have the shuttles go between the park and downtown have them go between the park and the mall like they do for UT games. This would mean paying the mall to use a section of their parking lot but at least they have a parking lot to be used. You could do the same thing at the Tony Berger Center as well.

You'll notice this post hasn't really talked about the music and there are a few reasons for that. For one, I talked about the music in my last two posts, for another I didn't see as much music as I wanted to and the music I was present for was only a part of what was going on in that moment. I did catch some really great performance by M83, Caveman, The Afghan Whigs, Rufus Wainwright and Stars amongst others but music is only part of the equation at a music festival.

I think what I learned this year was if I am granted media access again next year I will spend most of my time in the park early in the day and spend the rest of my time conducting interviews in the back. The early part of the day is my favorite, there are fewer people so it's easier to navigate. You can get closer to the stage and you can see lots of up-and-coming artists. I'm also a big fan of the late-night shows. With that, I draw this rambling, unfocused review to a close. See you again next year ACL Fest!

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

ACL TV Review: Jack White

Without a doubt, tonight's performance by Jack White for Austin City Limits Television was one of the most extraordinary tapings I have ever been to. If The White Stripes was Jack demonstrating the power of the song through minimalism and The Raconteurs was Jack showing how he could be a part of a band, his solo material is Jack as band leader. He played songs that spanned his career and he did so through a brand new lens. Hearing songs like Hotel Yorba as full-on country jams with a 5-6 piece band complete with fiddle and steel guitar made them sound brand new. It was as if everything you heard from The White Stripes was simply a demo and now Jack has the resources to flesh-out the songs in his head.

The thing that was most amazing about tonight's set was the lack of big, recognizable numbers that still managed to move the crowd and keep them on their feet. This was rock 'n roll as religion and we all just attended a revival. Jack White is no mortal musician, he is a conduit, a medium channeling the great blues-axe-men throughout history. He doesn't flail around on stage and create phony energy, he is simply a vessel that rock 'n roll passes through. He was a man possessed tonight, possessed by the energy of great American music. In one moment he was the past, present and future of hard rock and on the next song he was playing Appalachian hills music.

Jack White - Hypocritical Kiss video via YouTube

The stage was bathed in powder blue lighting, which matched the vintage suit that Jack donned. For the first half of his set he performed with his five-piece all-male band The Buzzards. The drummer hit harder and sat higher than any other drummer I have ever seen in my life. They were the tightest jazz-blues-country band I have ever seen and they made me want to jump up and shout at every break. The set highlight with The Buzzards was most definitely the Dead Weather song, I Cut Like a Buffalo, which was terse driving and created a frenetic energy in the crowd. Jack played roughly 6 or 7 songs with The Buzzards.

As the men left the stage, 6 women dressed in powder blue dresses appeared. Jack grabbed his acoustic guitar as the stage hands changed drum risers. Jack removed his powder blue jacket and continued the latter half of his performance with his 6-piece female band The Peacocks. This part of the set was just as energetic and driving but featured the more country-tinged songs than blues-tinged songs. The set highlight from The Peacocks was probably The Raconteurs song, Top Yourself although it's harder to choose a favorite from this half of the set since all of the songs were stand-outs.

There was no encore, although the audience was most definitely ready for one but as it was, we heard an hour and fifteen minute set in an intimate space for free. It was one of the most exciting, energetic lessons in rock 'n roll I have ever been a part of and I feel so happy to have been in that room tonight. The episode will air in January and really hope they are able to give Jack White the full hour. Look for it on your local PBS in 2013!

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ACL 2012 Day 2: Wrap Up

We woke up early Saturday to see the first act on the Honda Stage, Caveman. I am a huge fan of theirs and was excited to see them perform on such a large stage. The sky was overcast and ominous but the rain only appeared as a slight and occasional mist and the overcase skies were a pleasant repris from the glaring sun of the first day. Caveman were superb, the sound mix was excellent, their performance was top-notch and they even played 3 songs from a record to be released early next spring. They even attracted a fairly size-able crowd many of whom became new fans.

Caveman - Vampirer/Old Friend video via YouTube

After Caveman we headed over to the Austin Eats area to get some food before things got too crazy. We ran into a friend and filled up on some great local food, I opted for Chi'lantro while Mr. S. had his favorite P. Terry burger. Once we were full-up on food and sitting we ventured back to the Honda Stage for Zola Jesus.

We arrived just in time to see her walk on the stage dressed in gray tights, with something that looked sort of like a gray Star Trek uniform on top. Her hair was dyed blonde with her dark roots showing and her voice was as big as the festival itself. Her band consisted of a violinist, a bassist and someone on electronics. She stalked the stage with a wireless microphone and each time she opened her mouth I was shocked at the power of her voice. She is a small woman with a very big sound inside of her. The size of the crowd, proved how impressive her performance was. Toward the end of her set, she climbed down from the stage, over the barricade and into the crowd singing all the while. You can see my cell-phone photo of her emerging from the crowd at the top of this post.

We hustled it over to the other side of the park after Zola to catch Rufus Wainwright. Initially, I intended to listen to Rufus for about 15 minutes before heading over to the BMI stage for Gardens & Villa but this did not happen. Rufus came out wearing an over-the-top, colored Zebra striped suit with no shirt underneath. He performed the first song completely a capella and the huge crowd was totally silent for the duration of it. I was so completely impressed with Rufus Wainwright's performance that I could not bring myself to leave until he was completely finished. I feel bad that I didn't get to see Gardens & Villa but I feel confident that they will be back sooner than Rufus Wainwright and that their next Austin show will be a cheaper ticket than Rufus'. In the end, it ended up being my favorite set of the day.

We walked over to the adjacent east-side stage after Rufus to catch a high-energy set from Oberhofer. I was both surprised and impressed to see how many people were there to see their performance. They never disappoint in the live setting, jumping around the stage flailing their instruments and bursting with enthusiasm. They reminded the crowd of who they are several times, even spelling their name at one point. I always think that's a good idea at an event like ACl Fest.

We took a bit of break after Oberhofer to hang out in the media area with Caveman and catch up with friends. We were excited to see James Mercer as well as Steve Earle back stage and it was nice to get some booze and seats before heading back in to the park.

Our next act of the day was Michael Kiwanuka. He has a lot of buzz and has achieved pretty massive success overseas. I tweeted that I thought his was the breakout set of the festival, which caused Side One Track One to laugh at me but I stand by that statement. Sure, he is already well-known by a lot of people who pay attention to the music scene and he is fawned over by industry wonks and people in England but to the larger American audience he is an unknown. I have been calling him the new Adele because she was known in the U.S. when her first record came out and Chasing Pavements was on the radio but she wasn't a household name until her second record was released. I think it will take Michael Kiwanuka another year or two before he is a household name but it will happen.

Toward the end of Michael Kiwanuka's set the sky opened up and dumped some serious rain onto the festival. Many people cheered as the torrential downpour started, Mr. S. and I were not those people. Large swaths of the festival grounds instantly turned to mud making traversing the festival even more difficult than usual. Our plan was to head toward the Bud Light stage for The Roots however, with the rain and the mud we looked at each other and decided to watch them from our couch on the YouTube stream.

I know, I know rain is all a part of the experience and a festival is all about the communal blah blah blah, I live ten minutes from the park and I was perfectly pleased to hook the computer up to the television and watch the rest of the festival in my underwear while eating delivered pizza. Also, the benefit of watching the webcast is we got to see full sets from both The Shins and The Roots who were performing at the same time on opposite sides of the park in real life.

I think The Shins created a great set list for a festival, front-loading with their most popular and recognized hits, peppering in album tracks from their latest release. Their performance itself seemed a bit stilted to me but they still delivered. My perspective on The Shins is a bit tainted though because I can't get over James Mercer firing the real band and replacing them but still calling the band The Shins. I know this happens all the time in the music business but for some reason it really bothered me with The Shins. I just feel like he could have toured and recorded as James Mercer and it would have been less offensive. I saw the real The Shins at the Backyard in 2007 and in my memory they were better musicians than the current set of hired hands.

We watched 30 minutes of Bassnectar after The Shins and the crowd looked INSANE. I have seen Bassnectar a couple of times and he is always really impressive. In fact, the first time I ever saw him perform he was part of a line-up that included A-Trak and Calvin Harris and he impressed me the most. I had no idea who he was and I had ask people in the audience who it was because I was so blown away. Judging by the sea of waving hands and people jumping up and down that feeling was felt by many at Zilker Park yesterday.

The Roots set was full of all of their classics but the band actually opened by playing a tribute to The Beastie Boys' MCA in the form of Paul Revere. They proved that they are not your typical hip-hop artists with a performance that was closer to Jazz than rap. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands and they were the first act of the weekend to go over their allotted time.

For the conclusion of the night we flipped back and forth between Jack White and Neil Young. I know that Neil Young is a legend and that it was a welcome opportunity to see him perform, I feel like compared to Jack White he was seriously lacking in energy. He delivered his hits and even performed with Crazy Horse but it was just not for me. I think it was a silly move to have Jack White and Neil Young play against each other in the first place. I really think it should have been Jack White vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday and then Neil Young on Sunday night to close the weekend. However, for all I know he has another date scheduled that would have precluded this scenario from being possible.

So there you have it my day 2 in a nutshell.

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