Archive for the ‘Concert Reviews’ Category

The Kills

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

The Kills

The Kills have a disquieting intensity to their music. It reflects into their videos – the gritty, unsettling, often violent cinematography of Last Day of Magic and Black Balloon exemplify – and, appropriately enough, carried into their live show on Friday. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince prowled the stage, pacing and circling each other like a cat and dog ready to fight. They leaned over a sea of grasping hands and sang into the crowd; Jamie aimed his guitar at Alison like a gun; they each snarled lyrics into the other’s face.

Within the three-song encore, they included a cover of I Put A Spell On You… it was entirely appropriate.
The Kills

The Kills

The Kills

More at Mary’s Flickr photo set.

Spoon at Scoot Inn

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009


Spoon played last night to a sold-out hometown crowd for a solid hour-and-a-half, with a mix of old and new material.

The first part of the set was devoted almost entirely to new music, and it showed in the band’s slight hesitancy at first: you could tell that they were not quite comfortable with the songs yet. At the same time, their focus on recording over the past months also meant that some of the older songs showed the same hesitancy, as the band tried to get back into the swing of playing live again.

The crowd called out requests for old favorites, Britt laughed off any slip-ups with a rueful smile, and the sound was superb. The new material was intriguing, and while Britt didn’t let slip any details about a release date, you can be sure we can’t wait to hear the tracks all polished and pretty.


For more pics, check out Mary’s Flickr photo set.

Free Week Recap

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Sadly, Free Week is over for another year, and the next large-scale opportunity for free live music isn’t ’til the day shows and after-parties of SXSW, still months away. But hey, you at least have some pictures to reminisce over ’til then.Ovenbirds

Ovenbirds – Mike Booher was originally known around Austin for Zykos, a band who has produced an impressive amount of songs that should by all rights have gotten them major national love but, by the quirks of music industry and fickle public, never quite vaulted them to fame. But he’s also made a reputation for cool, fun side-projects like Booher and the Turkeyz, and Ovenbirds, who are pictured above playing opening night of Free Week at Emo’s.
Riverboat Gamblers
Riverboat Gamblers have a new album coming out in March, and it’s pretty damn awesome. If you’re tuning in to 101X at other times than Chillville hours, you’ve probably heard them rocking out with A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology. If you like the track, rest assured this is not an album that rests on one hit single – the entirety of Underneath The Owl is chock-full of songs that potentially could see major radio play. It doesn’t hurt that their live show is one of the best we’ve seen in Austin (and we’ve seen a lot). They played Saturday at Mohawk.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
When someone talks about When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the first adjective out of their mouth is inevitably ‘loud’, and when you’re standing a foot away from the speaker trying to get a photo the word gains a whole new meaning. Call it noise rock with experimental overtones, if you wanna try and nail down their sound, but it’s best to just let the sonic waves blow you away. Wednesday, Emo’sUme
Ume is punk rock, experimental, and interesting to watch. Lauren Larson is just tiny, maybe 5′2, but get her behind a guitar and she’ll head-bang her heart out. Her sometimes-dreamy, sometimes-wailing delivery always sounds great, and if you pick up their new EP, feel free to let us know what you think of The Means in particular (because we think it’s begging for an even more chilled-out remix). Thursday, Emo’sHarlem
If you wanna watch a live show where the band has obviously had a few alcoholic beverages and is just having a good, raucous time on-stage, Harlem is a good choice. Dirty, southern, jangly garage rock, laden with drug references and charming in spite – or because? – of them. Thursday, Emo’s
Strange Boys
The Strange Boys occupy a niche similar to Harlem, in that southern rough-and-ready style… but is that such a bad thing, if it’s executed well? second Friday, Emo’sBrazos
Brazos is modern folk, chilled out indie, and just really pretty stuff. Their members cut in half since spring, the sound is radically different from the fairly straightforward, guitar-heavy indie rock of a year ago, but Martin Crane’s distinctive songwriting ties it all together. One of the best bands in Austin, we are very glad they are back from hiatus and playing gigs again. second Saturday, Mohawk

Fun Raised to the Power of Three*

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Though the redundantly-named Fun Fun Fun Fest is only in its third year, relative infancy for a music festival with such an ambitious lineup, Waterloo Park and Transmission Entertainment seem well up to the Fest’s thrown glove name. Invoking a Dead Milkmen reunion, indie buzzbands galore, and an electronic and dj lineup that had dance-loving kids grooving, the park was packed with skinny jeans and mohawks alike braving the dust and sun for four stages of fun.

The Local Music is Sexy pre-show at the Mohawk Friday night started the weekend right with Brothers and Sisters doing their alt-country 60s-vibe of feel-good tunes. Foot Patrol made foot fetishes fun, ending with a killer Prince cover that got the entire crowd dancing and singing along, and secret guest Dengue Fever kept the party going until after 2am with Cambodian pop-infused psychedelic indie that was positively infectious.

Personal highlights from Saturday:

 Octopus Project

Octopus Project, who drew a crowd of loyal hometown fans. They rocked out with dancing puppets? muppets? dream-totems? behind them, Yvonne somehow remaining perfectly composed despite the heat and sun that directly blasted the stage. As they tentatively try their hand with more vocals, it somehow still works with their very electronic sound, moving them forward while maintaining the feel that fans love.


Deerhoof! From the very beginning, when they emerged on stage in lion and tiger heads, you knew there was something strange and intriguing ahead. What you may not have expected, however, was the ferocious and awesome drumming, which drove every song forward and energized onlookers. Reaching from all of their albums, the diverse set and endearing thank-you from the band charmed the dusty crowd.

 Dan Deacon

We only caught the end of Dan Deacon, as Deerhoof gripped our interest and wouldn’t let go, but what we saw was a crazy dance party. Deacon, playing in front of the stage, directed the crowd into a meandering chain of raised arms, and then had kids run through the tunnel that formed. Playful and fun.


Z-Trip then came on stage and killed with consummate dj skillz. Mashing Johnny Cash with Rage Against the Machine and many more, he kept the crowd jumping. Our only problem was with his insistence on constantly inciting the audience – the music needed no vocal encouragement for people to dance, they were already going.

Sunday highlights:

Til We’re Blue or Destroy had nine people on stage, but were having about 20 people’s share of the fun. Unintelligible lyrics, tamborines galore, and loud as heck; if you can catch them sometime in the future, they’re worth it.


We hadn’t heard much from the Annuals before, but at a recommendation from Mr. Curiosity of local music blog Covert Curiosity we stuck around, and were glad we did! They were fun, with some lovely harmonies.


Islands is all catchy hooks and quirky indie, and didn’t disappoint with their late afternoon set.

 Black Angels

We may be biased, but local psychedelic rockers the Black Angels pretty much rocked our socks off. With fierce drums, gritty, relentless guitar, and wailing vocals, these guys produced a mind-overwhelming sound that felt like the soundtrack to a war. The dusty sunset was the perfect backdrop after the heat of the day, and we were in no way ready for their set to end.

Venturing around for sustenance and alcohol, we missed St. Vincent, which is a little crushing considering the rave reviews we heard of her set. We did make it back for Minus the Bear, who actually did not impress; they seemed very one-note, almost like they were phoning in the performance.

 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The night ended with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who were awesome. This cemented their live music cred in Austin as solid indie rockers, and we and the entire crowd, giddy with a weekend full of awesome music and dust, danced around like idiots to their feel-good and alcohol-influenced set.

Girl In a Coma 

We finished off the night at the Mohawk’s afterparty with Girl in a Coma, a rock band signed by Joan Jett. And these girls did rock hard, keeping the packed indoor room thrashing about long after the midnight hour.

*A bit belated, sorry. Thought it had already been posted.

Bassnectar at La Zona Rosa

Monday, October 13th, 2008


On Friday, La Zona Rosa became a portal to The Other Side, serving up three beat-heavy acts that went bump long into the night. Oakland-based Beats Antique and local experimental loungers Govinda set the stage for an intensely tripped-out journey in sight and sound. San Francisco DJ Lorin Ashton, a.k.a. Bassnectar, later exploded on stage to a roaring crowd of raised hands and enthusiastic, bass-hungry head nods. Bobbing between two laptops, Ashton orchestrated his brand of non-stop musical magic before three giant projector screens. Imaginatively-synced visuals by Videolicious took us even further down the rabbit hole with images jumping from baboons to Godzilla, to contortionists and sumo wrestlers. These were but few of the wildly-suited eye candies to Ashton’s genre-flipping sounds.

Speaking through curtains of dark, caveman-like hair, Ashton told the cheering crowd it was the biggest he’d ever seen in Austin. And no doubt the word has spread, because La Zona Rosa was a full-house of hardcore hipsters, tie-dyed hippies and passionate post-ravers. Bassnectar’s freestyle electronic music appeals to a wide audience with not only heavy basslines and breakbeats, but hypnotic sci-fi atmospherics and insanely awesome remixes of popular songs. Tonight’s show was no exception. Bassnectar consistently brought more shake to his stage combo, stirring up increasingly krunk dancing and crowd surfing: M.I.A., Dr. Dre, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine all made a sweet aural appearance in the set. All the while, swirling imagery, sultry smoke and swooshing lights gave a little beauty to the bump. Visual snippets from cult films like The Fifth Element and American Beauty were answered by crowd cheers, adding more excitement to what was an intense multi-media experience in AAAAHHH YEAHHH (cue rhythmic up/down hand motions). Bassnectar proved he is the life force of thump on Friday, and we’ll likely still be vibrating next time he comes through town. Until then, plug in your good computer speakers, because there are some sweet tracks on his MySpace page, including a STS9 remix. His latest release Underground Communication is “another full length sonic adventure through multidirectional forms and genres”. Check this out and more at (((~Womp~Womp~Womp~)))

Tuesdays With Mary (at The Parish)

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Local band The Black and White Years kicked off Tuesday’s Parish show with their groovy brand of dance rock. A scheduling mix-up kept them from getting the crowd they deserved, but chants of ‘one more song!’ followed them off stage nevertheless. Catch them live this Friday at the Mohawk, where they’ll be playing with a powerhouse lineup: YellowFever, Elf Power, and Belaire.

Next up was Brooklyn’s Tigercity, rocking an 80’s vibe with guitar and vocal lines that would have fit perfectly into the soundtrack of any John Hughes movie. Singer Bill Gillim maintained the feel with a falsetto that was solid live, and a bombshell when recorded. And then VHS or Beta took the stage. Their live act is polished, but what it lacked in spontaneity, it made up for with consistency of quality – with their seriously catchy beats, it was all the better for those going crazy on the dance floor. The machine-like precision of the drummer and shimmering electric guitar lines make these guys stand out live.

Check out My Broken Hand by the Black and White Years, You Are Sensation by Tigercity, and Burn It All Down [Fred Falke remix] from VHS or Beta.

An Evening With Feist

Friday, April 18th, 2008


If you haven’t heard of Leslie Feist, you’re one of the few in Austin who weren’t trying to get tickets to her sold-out show at Stubbs Tuesday night. If you do know her, it may be from that one iPod commercial, or her time in Broken Social Scene, or even from her breakthrough 2007 album, The Reminder.

She started the show a cappella from behind a scrim, singing harmony over her own vocal loops. After blowing away the crowd with that performance, for the rest of the evening she could do no wrong, even when interrupting Gatekeeper to remonstrate someone in the front row for talking on their cell phone. In person, her voice was rough, attenuated; it felt like it could give way any second, yet remained perfectly on pitch. Not afraid to banter with the crowd, she sang 1234 – from the aforementioned commercial – after saying ‘let’s get this over with;’ but after only a little over an hour, no-one was ready for the end.