Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: Odd Future at Emo's

Amidst the crowd of twenty-something year-olds and teenagers chain smoking for the thrill was a sense of urgency. The need to be entertained by something as raw as it is playful, as violent as it is sweet, and as rebellious as it is innocent. The crowd was happy, patient, and alive as they danced and laughed through tracks DJ'd by Odd Future's own Taco Bennett. All you could see was a long white tee and an afro as his narrow frame opened up the show and rocked out to song after song, stepping from behind the decks on occasion to throw water bottles out to the fans and give a few high fives. The crowd was pumped and energies were at an all time high as Taco spun his last track which in turn generated an entire set list.

One by one they came out and did their piece. Earl Sweatshirt was the first on the mic quickly killing everyone's anxiety for his return. Vocals overlapped as other members of Odd Future (looking like a famous 90's hip hop group) slowly came out from hiding to join in on the song. With the arrival of Tyler, The Creator (their elusive leader of sorts) it was made clear that he was a bit under the weather. Voice raspy and throat bubbly, he made sure to let everyone know of his sickness by drooling into the crowd and seldom apologizing with a faint shrug for not hitting certain notes correctly. Everyone was charmed.  Odd Future fully covered the stage and each member had a very hyped presence as they dished out hits like "Tron Cat", "Radicals," "64", "Chum", and "Rella" as the crowd screamed back every word, even taking it upon themselves to sing the entire first part of "Yonkers" with no assistance. At one point, I remember looking out into the crowd and seeing a girl in a black lace bra helicoptering her tee shirt as she sat perched atop someone's shoulders. Somewhere else in the crowd was a boy no older than 15 crowd surfing and trying not to lose his shoes in the process. The group members rarely left the stage, Tyler sometimes climbing up on a speaker to pose and joke with the crowd when he wasn't needed on vocals. It's pretty safe to say that there was never a low point in the show. The group had excellent crowd control and presented a certain level of maturity in what they did. Seeing them live diminished any review I had read about a bunch of skater kids running amok on stage. This chaos was systematic with its own highs and rest points strategically placed within each members rhythms. Songs smoothed into each other like a never ending score, each voice complimenting the last only to come together as one melodic force. "Sandwiches" was the grand finale and appeared to be everyone's favorite choice. After a few more mosh pits, crowd surfs, and joints(?) the show was finally over and the few parents who had accompanied their kids to the concert frantically looked about.

All in all Odd Future presented a decent amount of songs from their hefty catalogue and performed both as individuals in the spotlight and as a full on group. Their set list would've pleased fans whether old, new or skeptical and each members performance was bold, charismatic, and fresh. No use of fancy lighting or fog machines. Just pure youth and a certain freedom of existence.

Read more!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Odd Future at Emo's

Like them or not, there is no denying that in their short time on the scene the members of Odd Future have made an impact on the music industry. They are shock rockers for a new generation, releasing their songs as performance art videos on YouTube. Their visuals and their music shock and offend and they do so intentionally. In a post-Alice Cooper, post-Marilyn Manson, post-NWA world Odd Future is the embodiment of shocking the music industry in the new millenium. However, I can't dismiss them as nothing more than performance art. This group is as talented as they are young. Based in L.A., they're a musical collective with at least ten members. There are even groups within the group but it's safe to say the whole thing is based around Tyler the Creator. In addition to being one of the most recognizable emcees in the group he is also the main producer for all or most of the group's musical endeavors. His own solo record, Goblin has been hailed as one of the most interesting and refreshing hip-hop albums in recent years and marked a new era for the genre.

In a live setting Odd Future are as punk rock as they are hip-hop. Don't expect to see a bunch of dudes standing around grunting into microphones. These guys stage dive, they assault photographers, they spit at the crowd, they are unpredictable to put it mildly. You never know how many members will appear nor if they'll actually perform a full-set. They have been known to appear with Flaming Lips-esque props on stage as well. Even if you don't like their music it could be worth the price of a ticket just to see what will happen. You can catch the OFWGK†Δ crew tomorrow night at Emo's.

Earl Sweatshirt - Chum video via YouTube

The great thing about seeing a group like Odd Future is even if you don't like one artist, you may like another artist on the roster. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of Tyler, the Creator as an emcee although I can definitely appreciate his production skills but I am a big fan of Earl Sweatshirt. Earl disappeared from the crew for a period and there are many myths and legends about where he went and why. My favorite story is that his parents saw one of the early Odd Future videos and sent Earl off to boarding school since he was still in High School. That may or may not be true but it's still a great story. Lucky for all of us, he has resurfaced with the release of the song Chum and I would expect that he'll be at Emo's tomorrow. I mean what would you think, if you saw your High School-er in a video like this?

Earl Sweatshirt - EARL video via YouTube

Frank Ocean is also part of the Odd Future crew and he was just nominated for several Grammy's last night but I don't expect him to be at Emo's tomorrow. You can and should expect to see Mellowhype to be there though.

Mellowhype - Break video via YouTube

In a related note, hardcore band and Odd Future label-mates Trash Talk will be performing at Red 7 tomorrow night with a DJ set from Odd Future. Tyler, the Creator has been known to perform with Trash Talk but I'm not really sure how that could or would work tomorrow evening? Tickets for the Red 7 show are only $10 if you buy them today but they go up to $12 tomorrow.

Read more!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Gary Clark Jr. ACL TV

Friday night's Gary Clark Jr. performance for ACL TV was the perfect bridge for Old and New Austin. Clark is a torch-bearer for a grand Texas tradition of Electric Blues. He is following in the footsteps of artists like ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughn but he also represents a new generation of Austin artists. In a sense, he himself embodies the two Austins. He plays the old Austin sound but he is making it fresh. He appeals to the folks who go to the Saxon Pub, Antone's or the Continental Club but he manages to slip Frank Zappa influences into his bluesy solos. Even his dress embodies this aesthetic pairing a slim, slate-colored suit with a Jed Clampett hat and some shit-kicker boots. Even the taping itself was a representation of the two Austins. Austin City Limits is an iconic show with 38 years on the air but this taping was in the new studio. Furthermore, the full performance was streamed live on the internet. Clark will only get half an episode when his performance hits PBS but those of us in the crowd and online got a full 60+ minute performance of scorchers.

The performance itself was electric in every sense of the word. Clark's family was seated in the row behind me and you could feel how proud they were, three generations of beaming family members thrilled to see how far he's come in his short life. Every solo seemed to send the crowd into a frenzy. Clark plays basic blues but the audience was reacting as if he invented the guitar and he was playing as if he had. He tore through most of his latest record, Blak and Blu with some blues standards and earlier songs mixed in. He didn't stick with the setlist and definitely played much longer than what will appear on television. With most of the songs stretching beyond the 5 minute mark I do not envy the editors who will have to trim his set down to 30 minutes or less.

Gary Clark Jr - Ain't Messin' 'Round video via YouTube

Both of this weekend's ACL TV tapings were streamed live on YouTube, which I think is a great idea. The demand to attend tapings is already huge so streaming the performances gives a lot more people the opportunity to be a part of the magic. Not only that, as I mentioned the performances that people give are always much more than what makes it to PBS so this gives the audience a chance to see what doesn't make it on the air. Austin is nothing like it was when Austin City Limits started and I'm glad that the show is changing along with the times and the city. I also feel very lucky to have the chance to attend so many tapings.

If you want a chance to attend a taping with three of your friends, that is just ONE of the outrageously fantastic prizes for The Big Deal contest. For the cost of a $25 raffle ticket you could be a VIP at all of the coolest events in Austin.

    Check out this prize pack:
  • 2 3-Day VIP Passes to the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival
  • 2 Music Badges to the 2013 SXSW Conference
  • 4 Passes to 1 (one) Austin City Limits taping - Season 39
  • 2 Producers Badges to the 2013 Austin Film Festival
  • 2 PIP 3-Day Passes to Fun Fun Fun Fest 8
  • 2 Tickets to the 2013 KLRU Benefit Concert
  • 2 You Betcha I'm Somebody Passes to the 2013 Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival
  • 2 tickets to a KUT Live Studio 1-A Broadcast & Tour of the new KUT Public Media Studios with a music host
  • 2 Seats to a performance in the KGSR Music Lounge
  • 1 Night Stay at the W Austin
  • 2 VIP Tickets to a 2013 Austin Film Society film premiere
  • 2 Tickets to an ACL Live at The Moody Theater show
  • 1 $50 gift certificate to Waterloo Records
  • This contest is limited to Texas residents but if you'd like to win this amazing prize, buy as many raffle tickets as you can afford!

Read more!