Friday, September 28, 2007

I hate not having internet access

BAH! I have begun to realize just how dependant I am on this crazy little thing called the Internet recently. The phrase "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" rings in my head several times daily. I only get maybe 30 minutes of pre and post work goof off time on my computer at work and that's the only time I have to access the Internet. I usually use that time to read email and catch up on the news (no TV either, but I don't miss that much) and have spent approximately zero time on updating the site. So here's a minor half assed update.

Caribou! I love Caribou. You all know that by now. The band is playing at Club Deville here in Austin on the 19th of October. Also, they have recently recorded a series of live videos of the band playing in Dan Snaith's home studio, dubbed the pink room for obviously pink reasons. I have no speakers on this work computer so for the first time ever, I am linking to something that I haven't even listened to. That's how much I think of Caribou. If this stuff isn't cool I'll give you your money back. The videos are up at Stereogum, Gorilla VS. Bear, Pitchfork, and Daytrotter. Enjoy, and someone do me a favor and tell me how it sounds........

Monday, September 24, 2007

Diary of a disappointment (Wall of Sound Festival 2007)

Firstly, I’d like to once again thank Austinist for hooking me up with a couple of free passes to the Wall of Sound Festival. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise and it was a nice surprise on Friday. Now to the review/recap. We started up I35 around 11am, a bit of a late start but with the festival scheduled to run until midnight or so we wouldn’t miss too much. Upon arrival at the ball park I was initially surprised by the small amount of vehicles in the parking lot. Having run the ACL gauntlet the weekend before, I came expecting, at the least, a large crowd and maybe some parking hassles. We found neither, surprising in the first case and welcome in the latter. As soon as I entered the ball park I was surprised again, this time at the lack of visible security or event personnel. A girl sitting at a folding table just inside the gates asked not to see our wristbands or IDs but rather for a cigarette. Once inside we did a quick recon mission to see how the stages and vendors were laid out.

The festival advertised 30 bands on 3 stages, and while this was technically true there were some definite issues with the placement of the stages. The 3rd stage was located in a fenced in area outside of the field itself. It was smaller than expected but worked fine except for a sizeable amount of bleed from the main stages inside the park. The frustration was evident on the faces of the 3rd stage performers as they tried to play while sound from the considerably louder main stages washed over their sets. The 2nd and 3rd stages were both in the outfield of the ballpark, but to the surprise of my friends and I, they were literally side by side. It was really just one big stage split in half. In theory it was a decent idea, have one band set up on the left stage while another played on the right stage and vice versa. In practice, however, it caused many problems. One of these problems was that the schedule didn’t allow any time for sound checking the bands. This lead to one of three situations occurring during each changeover, none of them good. The first scenario, which seemed fairly common and was probably the most confusing, was that some bands would try to sound check on the left stage, while another band performed on the right stage. This lead to quite a few tense moments on stage where one band would yell at the other for sound checking during their set. The second scenario was a band having to sound check before their set, thus either cutting into their set time, or causing them to run long and delay the start times of future sets. The final scenario had bands just getting up there and playing without any sound check at all. This caused quite a few bands to have really bad mixes and detracted from a good number of sets I was eager to see. There were other complaints as well. Overpriced water on a very hot day, only two food vendors and just one beverage vendor who served anything other than beer, soda, or water being the main ones. Complaints aside, and I wouldn’t have mentioned them first if they weren’t massive and glaring, the festival promoters did put together a good lineup.

Lymbyc Systym’s sibling duo started the day off nicely for my friends and I. Their mix of electronic loops, drums, and amazing sounding old analog keys drew a pretty large crowd to the small third stage. I actually saw them on Friday night in Austin opening for This Will Destroy You as well and the boys played as impeccably on Saturday as they did the night before. These were Lymbyc Systym’s last two shows on their 8 week tour and they were really tight from all of those performances. Next up was Austin metal kings, The Sword. One thing I need to mention about the main stages at Wall of Sound is the wall of massive PA speakers in front of the stages, they were not kidding about a wall of sound. Those bad boys were cranked to 11 all day. The Sword utilized every decibel the PAs could put out as they made ears bleed all across the outfield. They started out with Age of Winters number “Freya” and after rocking through that one, announced that they were going to spend the rest of their set playing “some new shit”. The Sword was one of the few bands all day that really sounded good all the way through. After this we took advantage of the festival’s loosely monitored in and out policy and left to grab a bite to eat that was not insanely over priced and terrible like the food inside the parks walls.

Upon our return we went over to the main stage again to check out current Pinback tour mates Om. I had never heard their music before their set on Saturday and I probably won’t be listening to them again any time soon. I’d give them the nod for worst set of the festival even though there was a small crowd in front of the stage who thought they were fantastic. Om’s shtick, and it does seem pretty shticky to me, went as follows. Have a guy on bass play super loud, droney, almost non musical shit through two of the largest bass cabinets I have ever seen. One friend guessed they were each 6x12s or even 6x15s. On top of that have a shirtless drummer play the bell on his ride so much you just want to die. Oh yeah and they played 3 songs over the course of an hour plus set (which was supposed to be 40 minutes and caused some disaster later in the evening). I was more than pleased when they left the stage to a smattering of applause and a lot of boos. After the Om debacle I checked out a bit of Bobby Bare Jr., not too impressed although they had a couple of good extended musical outros, and tried to see a bit of White Denim but missed them. At this point the schedule was worthless as their were delays on all stages and bands were just going on whenever the band before them ended. Pinback was up next, and this was the set I was most looking forward to as I had never seen them before. I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed.

Pinback is a band that owes much of their impressiveness on albums to the fantastic musical balance. All of the interweaving bass and guitar work as well as the complicated interloping vocals of Rob Crow and Zach Smith rely so heavily on a proper mix, and that mix was off on Saturday night. I definitely want to see them in a proper club setting with a good sound guy before passing final judgment, but I was left unimpressed this weekend. After Pinback I ventured out to the 3rd stage to catch the end of a really impressive set by Austin rock act Lions. Sometimes no bullshit balls to the wall rock and roll can be such a breath of fresh air in the current musical atmosphere and their set was just what I needed at that moment. I’ll definitely check them out again. I then walked back to the main stage to catch the last 3 or 4 songs of The Books. The Books are a duo comprised of one guy playing really intricate, mostly finger picked, pieces on acoustic guitar and another guy playing a cello. They play along with prerecorded tracks comprised of a video montage and various electronic atmospherics. Really cool stuff, I wish I could have seen their whole set.

The last three bands of the day were the ones that most people probably came to see, the central Texas trio of Denton’s Midlake and Austin’s own Ghostland Observatory and Explosions in the Sky. Midlake was scheduled to play first of the three but undisclosed problems required Ghostland to go on first. They took the stage and did exactly what they do best for 40 minutes. The music was loud, the dancing was ever present and the light show, while not nearly on par with the one at ACL last weekend, was very cool. The only complaint I can come up with was that the crowd didn’t let their guard down like they do in Austin, so the general dance party vibe of the show was missing. Midlake promptly took the stage after Ghostland ( the sets were was behind schedule at this point, Ghostland went on after 11pm which was the time Explosion were supposed to take the stage) and they played the set of the day. They are just so so unbelievably tight. Midlake played a short set that featured most of my favorites, “Roscoe”, “Young Bride”. “Van Occupanther”, and “Head Home” included. Also present was an unnamed new song that I had heard them play at ACL as well, it was really great and has my hopes set really high for the new album. So after this only one band remained, one of my favorite bands of all time, Explosions in the Sky. I’ve seen the band probably half a dozen times in Austin, but it had been a while since my last encounter with them. Once again, the sound was not the best, it seemed like some of the drums weren’t properly mic'd, etc. but they gave it every bit they had and the result was very enjoyable. Unfortunately the festival’s horrible management reared its ugly head one last time in the form of the Fort Worth police forcing the band to stop playing 2 songs into their set. Explosions guitarist Munaf grabbed the microphone and explained to the crowd with a terribly pained expression in his face that the cops were here to enforce the curfew and they would have to stop playing. As the crowd cheered for just one more song you could really see the disappointment in the band members faces as they walked off the stage and it lead to a definite “What the fuck?” moment amongst the crowd as we dejectedly and confusedly walked out of the ball park.

On the ride home from Fort Worth, my friends and I discussed the day and tried to piece together how someone could so badly flub a quality event like this. Maybe I am just spoiled because I live in Austin and get to see well attended, professionally presented, and much appreciated shows all the time, but I just don’t see how you can screw something up so bad. You simply can not allow the poor stage management all day to cause your headliner’s sets to be cut short. 90% of the reason I went to this show was to see Midlake, Ghostland, and Explosions, and they were the only three bands I saw all day that had their sets significantly shortened due to time restraints. Even besides that, where were the security people? Where were the medical personnel? Where were the smiling faces in easily identifiable Wall of Sound employee shirts to answer my questions? Where were the promised vendors? I would estimate that at no point in the day were there ever more people in the crowd than would have easily fit in a show at Stubbs. As I milled amongst the 500-1,000 people there at any given point in the day I kept thinking that if this event had been held in Austin there would have been 10,000 people there.

I’d summarize the day in one word, disappointing. It could have been fantastic, but it was anything but, and the burden of this disappointment falls in no way on the shoulders of the bands, it falls squarely on the organizers and promoters of the event. I don’t think I’ll be making a return trip next year unless these issues are given a serious look and some major changes are made.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm a winner (Wall of Sound edition)

The wonderful people over at Austinist give away tickets, guest list passes, and tons of other stuff almost every day. I read their site daily and whenever I see something that catches my eye I pop in my contact info and see what happens. I did just that this week and this morning I received a delightful email from Paige Maguire, Austinist's music editor, informing me that I won 2 free passes to the Wall of Sound festival in Fort Worth! It was quite the pleasant surprise and has made my work day go more than a little bit smoother than normal. So tomorrow some friends and I are going to make the trek up I-35 to the Big D's little brother to see some great local and national acts. I've written about the festival before, and since then the final schedule has been released. Explosions In The Sky headline the whole 3-stage Shebangabang. it's been far too long since I've seen those guys and what a perfect setting to see them in, headlining a pretty big show, outside in the middle of a minor league baseball stadium under the stars. I am really looking forward to that. Other notables playing, and there are quite a few, include Pinback, Midlake, Ghostland Observatory, The Books, Bobby Bare Jr., White Denim, The Sword, Lions, Brothers and Sisters, The Lemurs, Peter and the Wolf, and many many more. I can not wait and you can expect a full recap on this very page in the upcoming days. There are still tickets available if you feel like taking a road trip. The gates are at 10am and Explosions is scheduled to close things down at 11pm.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

tons of good shows this weekend

There are 3 shows going on at Emo's this weekend which I can recommend very highly. The first one is on Friday and features San Marcos Post Rockers This Will Destroy You headlining. This is the band's first show in Austin since they had to cancel their tour due to illness. It'll be great to see them healthy and playing shows again. I'm hoping to hear some new material.

Friday 9/21/07 @ Emo's Lounge

Saturday night features a show that I am quite excited about, Animal Collective. The experimental band are coming through in support of their new LP Strawberry Jam which features one of my absolute favorite songs of the year "Fireworks". Don't be too surprised if you hear a lot of unfamiliar material as the band is known to frequently try out new songs in a live setting.

Saturday 9/22/07 @ Emo's Outside

Finally, on Sunday San Diego band Pinback will be playing on Emo's outside stage. They've just released one of my favorite albums of the year Autumn of the Seraphs and I'm sure that burly ol' Rob Crow and co. will bring out quite a crowd.

Sunday 9/23/07 @ Emo's Outside

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

St. Vincent @ ACL Fest

(image via Flickr)

St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) was one of the sets that I was most excited to see at the festival, it also happened to be the first one that I caught all weekend. For this festival gig Annie was flying solo, unless you want to count her army of drum machines, looper pedals, effects pedals, guitars, and microphones as people, and she pulled the set off amazingly well. There were some sound issues, her guitar was too low in the mix at times and way too bassy most of the time, but none of the relatively minor sound problems could detract from the visual spectacle that was Annie's one (wo)man band. She started most songs by playing a beat on a drum machine and then looping it, and she just built up from there, flawlessly looping guitar parts, stomping pedals, stomping the stage, and switching between microphones. It was awe inspiring and, in some ways, even outshone Andrew Bird's similar looping madness. The highlight of the set for me was probably the most simple song she played, a killer version of the Beatle's "Dig A Pony" after which she coyly remarked "I wrote that one back in '69" with a slight grin on her face. I wish the sound guy had known how to mix her better, but that really is my only complaint. If you are walking down the street and see St. Vincent on the marquee overhead, turn and march on in, it'll be worth it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

ACL Fest brief recap

After missing my first ACL fest last year, I managed to get myself a wristband and see two of the three days of music. I had a great time, just as expected. It wasn't as hot as 2005, but there was plenty of sweat to go around. Here's a rundown of the acts I saw this year.


St. Vincent

Cold War Kids

Andrew Bird

Arctic Monkeys

Arcade Fire



Patterson Hood (featuring Will Johnson and Scott Danbom of Centro-Matic)

My Morning Jacket

The Decemberists

Bob Dylan

I was so exhausted from moving out of my house on Friday that I ended up getting a really late start on both days. I missed a lot of sets I really wish that I had seen, but sometimes sleep wins out. If I had to give a favorite set for the weekend I'd go with Arcade Fire, but every single set I saw was highly enjoyable save for Bob Dylan (I love the man's music, but he should stop touring. He was a parody of himself at best.) My favorite moments were Annie Clark covering the Beatle's "Dig A Pony" and her post song remark, "I wrote that song back in '69", The Decemberists closing their set with a poignant rendition of "I Was Meant For The Stage", My Morning Jacket's Hawaiian stage set up, complete with Hula Girls posing with pineapples, and every single second of Andrew Bird and the Arcade Fire's sets. Low points included having to listen to Blue October while waiting for Andrew Bird to start and the general crappiness of the sound at several stages.

I'm going to be doing some more in depth write-ups of a few of the sets I really enjoyed this week, and I'll post them as I finish. It was a great weekend and I'll definitely be back again next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ACL Fest

So, obviously, ACL Fest is this weekend. Aside from SXSW this is definitely the biggest music weekend in Austin all year. Initially, I wasn't going to go because of all of the moving/new job/whatever nonsense that has been floating around my poor little brain lately, but thanks to a friend who happened upon a free 3 day pass, and a magical RNG that fell my way, I will be going this weekend. I have to miss all of Friday because of work/moving but I'm pretty excited about a few sets over the weekend (Sound Team's last show ever, Andrew Bird, Damien Rice, Arcade Fire, The National, Midlake, Regina Spektor, My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, and finally, the old man himself, Bob Dylan). I'm not really expecting much from any of the bands as it is a festival after all, but it will be a much needed break from the insanity that has been my life over the last month or so. If you didn't get a pass, or just flat out don't want to go, remember that there are a lot of cool shows going on this weekend that don't require a $200 piece of plastic around your wrist.

Hot Freaks! (hope you RSVP'd)

Black Angels for free!

Local Music Is Fucking Sexy!


Have a fantastic weekend. If you see me out and about over the course of the next few weeks, buy me a drink, I'll need it. Ciao!

PS. Gorilla Vs. Bear is on his shit, while I am not. Check these awesome St. Vincent videos here and here and go see Annie Clark this weekend before she gets so big that you can't get in.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

the forecast is kinda grey

So the news of the day is that the White Stripes pulled out of their saturday night headlining spot at ACL fest and their headlining show at Stubbs with Cold War Kids as well. Ghostland is playing with Cold War kids now. Many people are upset, I don't really care. I'd be seeing Arcade Fire anyway. In other news, don't be alarmed when the updates get much much more infrequent over the next few weeks. I just started a new job today and I'm moving. Not only that, but I move out of one place this weekend and don't move into the new place until the 1st, so I'll kind of be bumming around until then and am not sure of what my internet access is going to be like. Once I get all moved in and settled things will go back to normal, but until then expect less updates than usual. Sorry, as Britt Daniel once said "Everything hits at once". Couldn't have said it any better.

Spoon - Everything Hits At Once

Monday, September 10, 2007

So, on Friday the sad news came via Bill Baird's blog, Sound Team is disbanding. Their show at ACL this weekend will be their last. It's a shame, they have been one of my favorite bands for quite a number of years now. I first saw them opening for Ash at Emo's back in 2003 and have been nothing but impressed since then. According to Bill's blog post the band will be putting up all of their recorded material on their website for free download at some point soon as well as lots of B-sides and live recordings. It's always sad to see a great band go, but I doubt I'll stop listening to them anytime soon and hopefully some great bands will rise from the ashes. Thanks for the music, and good luck in the future to all of you.

Sound Team - Handful of Billions

Woke up one day I was seven years older
The monochord and bow were shoulder to shoulder
Left me with a picture don't remind me just why I came

Somehow things got complicated!
Don't know how things they got so complicated!
Least I've got the picture to remind me just why I came!

One more time before this is over!
The monochord and bow were shoulder to shoulder now
The picture don't remind me just why we came

Free show at Club Deville Thursday night

This Thursday Club Deville is hosting a free show featuring Til We're Blue Or Destroy and headliners The Black Angels. I am imagining that this will be insanely packed what with all of the out of towners in for ACL Fest. It's definitely still a great lineup and is undoubtedly worth the effort.

The Black Angels - Black Grease

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Caribou - Yo-Yo

Thanks to Gorilla Vs. Bear for pointing us in the direction of this new Caribou track called Yo-Yo. It's on their tour only CD that is being sold at European tour dates now. Fits with the general Andorra feel, perhaps a bit more abstract than the album cuts. At this point, any new Caribou, is good Caribou.

Caribou - Yo-Yo (from European tour only CD)

Caribou play Club Deville on October 19th (tickets)

La Blogoteque

Music is often referred to as a universal language, so it's no surprise that there exist several unique music websites based in different countries and written in different languages. My two personal favorite non English language sites are Ma Fama (Portugese) and La Blogoteque (French). I'm going to focus this on La Blogoteque but there will be a Ma Fama post forthcoming.

I studied French for many years, so I can navigate my way through the pages of La blogoteque fairly easily, but even if your hold on the french language loosens somewhere around Baguette, the original video content on the site speaks for itself. La Blogoteque is most well known for their Concerts a emporter (Take away shows) section. Included in this section are dozens of unique videos of bands performing their songs in strange locations. There are videos of Jose Gonzalez performing in the back of a moving Pickup truck in Marfa, Texas. There are videos of Menomena performing in a courtyard in France as small children watch and dance to the music. There are videos of Andrew Bird walking the streets of Montmarte singing and playing his guitar and whistling. My personal favorites are the videos of Sound Team performing while walking the streets of East Austin. Basically, there are a lot of wonderfully unique interpretations of great songs in totally unexpected environments. There are well over a hundred videos on the site. There is also an English translation version of most of the site. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

If you had asked me what the most important part of a song was 6 years ago I would have responded with "The lyrics, of course" nearly instantly. I was a lyrics guy. I loved the music itself as well, but the thing that regularly made me fall for a band or a song was the lyrical content. Given that, it's not too surprising that my musical heroes at the time were people like David Bazan, Isaac Brock, and Elliot Smith. In short, amazingly gifted songwriters. I plastered my AIM profile and myspace with verses from horribly depressing songs about life and lost love and everything in between. Words still mean more to me than most things, but over the past few years the sounds made by guitars and drums and synths and chimes and anything at all that can make a noise overtook the words being sung as the thing I listened for. It's all recently come full circle as I'm back on a bit of a lyric kick. The old Elliott Smith and Modest Mouse albums are getting dusted off and played more frequently. An interesting thing that I've found, is that, while I am listening to the lyrics more, I'm being affected by different lyrical subjects than in the past. An example of this is that I've just realized that I've become a sucker for songs about cats. I dare say that my favorite album of 2005 was South San Gabriel's The Carlton Chronicles:Not Until The Operation's Through. The Carlton Chronicles is a 9 song concept album about a cat who runs away from home, and that cat's journey back to his master. It's an absolutely amazing record, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough. Now, more recently, I've come across another song about a cat that hits me quite hard. The song, called "Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure" follows much the same lyrical path as The Carlton Chronicles. A cat runs away, journeys home and longs for the familiar embrace of her master's lap. It sounds really dopey but I am affected more by these well written and poignant songs about a cat's love for it's master than a thousand songs about some guy's broken heart. I guess, in the end, the answer is simply that I'm a bit older and maybe a bit more jaded and suddenly I find myself relating far more to a cat who's lost and misses it's owner than a kid with a broken heart. Broken hearts seem easier to fake.

The Weakerthans - Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure

Pre-order Reunion Tour here (out 9/25 on Epitaph)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

FUNFUNFUN Fest update

I got the following email from the FUNFUN FUN people this weekend.

Two months out and quite a buzz going! Transmission Entertainment is
proud and excited to announce the final line up for this years Fun Fun
Fun Fest at Waterloo Park in Austin, TX, taking place on November 3rd and 4th.
My concept from the beginning was to combine multiple styles and stages
from the underground/progressive music scene and make it the
alternative to what is currently out there in Austin. I think we've
accomplished this and hopefully it will continue to grow.
Although there maybe 1 or 2 smaller acts added, this is pretty much
it. We'll get more details on who is playing which day soon, but as
of now, look for 2 day passes, available through

Explosions in the Sky (Austin, TX)
Cat Power and the Dirty Delta Blues (NY)
New Pornographers (Vancouver, Canada)
Of Montreal (athens, GA)
Okkervil River (austin, tx)
Battles (NY)
Mates of State (SF,CA)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (NJ)
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (austin, tx)
Final Fantasy (Toronto, Canada)
White Denim (Austin, TX)
Brothes and Sisters (Austin)
Zykos (austin, tx)
Emma Pollock (of the delgados) (Scottland)
Headlights (IL)
Cave Singers (Seattle)
Celebration (Baltimore)
The Cribs (UK)
Birds of Avalon (Raleigh, NC)

Murder City Devils (Seattle, WA)
Neurosis (Oakland, CA)
The Sword (Austin, TX)
Battalion of Saints (CA)
Sick of It All (NY)
Madball (NY)
Angry Samoans (CA)
Against Me! (Gainesville, FL)
Lifetime (NJ)
Riverboat Gamblers (austin, tx)
Poison Idea (Portlan, OR)
CH3 (CA)
The Saints (Australia)
Riverboat Gamblers (Austin, tx)
Youth Brigade (CA)
Complete Control (Austin, TX)
Suntrash (CA)
Witchcraft (sweden)
Saviours (Oakland)
Modern Life Is War (Iowa)
Iron Age (Austin, tx)
Viva Hate (CA)
Sinking Ships (Seattle, WA)
The Heart Attacks (Atlanta, GA)

Girl Talk (Pittsburgh, PA )
Cadence Weapon (CA)
Busdriver (CA)
Diplo (philidelphia, PA)
Car Stereo Wars (Austin)
Grand Buffet (Pittsburgh, PA )
DJ Jester (austin)
Prince Klassen (austin)
MC Chris (NY)
Ocelot (Austin and UK)
Brownout! (austin)
Small Sin (canada)
Clap! Clap! (Austin)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Centro-matic @ The Parish

Some friends and I went to the free Labor Day show at The Parish last night which was headlined by Centro-matic. As usual the band put on an awesome show. The set was comprised mostly of songs from their 2003 album Love You Just The Same. The highlight, for me, was the first song of their set. They opened with the song "Love You Just The Same" from the Flashes and Cables EP. I've seen Centro-matic live several times and this is the first time that I've been able to see them perform that song. It was beautiful. Scott Danbom's violin just kills me on this particular track, and it was ten times more powerful in person. I am always amazed at how this band doesn't get more nation wide press.

If you live in the Dallas area Centro-matic will be playing another free show in Denton next Saturday. Details below.

Saturday, September 8
Denton, TX - Rubber Gloves
with Tre Orsi, Bridges and Blinking Lights, Handbrake

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