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Friday, March 14, 2008

The After-Hour Tecate (SXSW, Day Two)

posted by on March 14 at 1:32 AM

My buddy had an extra one in his car. I drank it while he drove through a broken guard-rail in the parking garage that we were supposed to pay $5 to leave. I’ve got your EXTREME right here, Eric.

So as it turns out, all attempts at getting media off my camera have proved awful, which means you’ll have to settle for words instead of video. Let’s regurgitate a second day…

J Mascis—It appears that Eric left the French Legation Museum today just in time to miss J. Mascis kick all kinds of ass with a solo set. Not sure whether his acoustic guitar has a killer electric pickup, or whether he simply has the greatest pedal layout in the world, but the guy started each of his few songs with quaint, meandering acoustic picking, only to switch over for some of the most epic rock solos I’ve heard by a guy sitting in a chair.

Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry—Emo’s had the brief “A Bunch of Comedians” showcase today during its day shows. To answer your question from the other day, Eric, Todd Barry did not incorporate his recent airline mishap into his routine. However, he did heckle a sound guy who interrupted his set by taking three minutes to remove a cymbal from the stage. Barry responded by asking what band the guy was working for so that he could reproduce the equivalent asshole moves during their set later in the day. Mirman, meanwhile, made fun of MySpace ads which ask questions that make no sense. (“‘Should Hillary Run For President?’ She’s running, so, you know, that’s insulting.”) He printed out a few samples of his own that he thought would be better—“Are these giraffes gay?” stood out. As a bonus, the friend whose couch I’m crashing on found himself the butt of a zillion jokes when he yelled out mid-set to make fun of a joke about Aerosmith. Did my friend deserve it? I’ll answer that once I’ve left Austin. By the way, during this set, there was a shout-out to Sonic Boom Records courtesy of the T-shirt that clung to Mirman’s belly.

Earthless—Holy ass pants. These guys played at a record store a good 15 minute drive away from downtown Austin, which meant about 12 people witnessed the most intense 44-minute song I’ve ever heard. Earthless would be done a great disservice to be labeled as stoner rock; I once heard them on a Vancouver radio station while waiting for a ferry and made it a personal mission to finally see this band that played epic blues/speed-metal/kraut/glam/rock of the 20-minute-plus variety. (It was a long wait for the ferry.) This trio did not disappoint, complete with a metal drummer who—whoa—understood the concepts of restraint and reduced cymbals, and a bassist who sounded schooled in jazz the way he dictated the band’s rhythm and harmony. After their 8-minute opener made me wonder what kind of insanity I was in for, they tore into a 44-minute ass-peeler, filled with chunks of their latest record but also augmented with new, well-refined sections—early Metallica speed-riffing that collided with the kind of blistering solos that would make Stevie Ray Vaughan puke his white guts out. I’m not necessarily a metal guy, but I can appreciate it, and I’d never heard a metal band with so many points of entry. Thank you, Earthless.

Phosphorescent—Matthew Houck is on an utter roll these days; his semi-solo project is anchored by its best band ever, and it’s hard not to have your heart broken by both his original tunes (“My Dove, My Lamb,” emboldened by many a suspiciously cheery piano section) and his covers (here, Leonard Cohen’s “Memories,” done so well that it might finally convince people to lay off the fucking “Hallelujah”). I cannot wait to post videos of his stuff from the past two days.

Bodies of Water—I’m sad that Eric wasn’t moved nearly as much by their daytime set as the Mohawk crowd was by what was laid bare this evening. The male-female harmonies and erratic songwriting reminded me of BC’s Shapes and Sizes, if they were overtaken by the perky-yet-militant Polyphonic Spree. Eric’s right about the frontwoman, but the excitement I felt from their frequent four-part vocal explosions—often broken into male/female parts before coming together at opportune moments—reminded me of the time I saw a little known band called The Arcade Fire open for The Unicorns back in late ‘04. Song after song proved anthemic with this massive crowd.

Luke Temple—The perfect fit for the Central Presbyterian Church’s daunting size and reverb-loving acoustics. This Brooklyn crooner’s high pitch and minimalist songs wound up sounding so much huger in the cathedral, its empty spaces filling the air and making the chirping keyboards and spare bass drum thumps that much more powerful beneath his fragile voice. A set that requires video to explain. Can’t wait to upload it.

Bon Iver—His voice was blown, though you might not’ve heard so—four out of five people in attendance were too busy talking loudly to actually pay attention to one of the fest’s most hyped acts. Guess you folks spent so much money on your laminated SXSW badges that you forgot to spare a dime or two to pay some respect. Anyway, the band was still able to command a rousing singalong midway through, so I doubt they’re hurting.

Citay—I hate to knock an article by Jon Zwickel about a band from San Fran, his old abode, but I think he got this Stranger piece on Citay pretty wrong. Not that he’ll agree with my take on them, but I heard a bunch of Grateful Dead lovers—you know, from the earliest days, like Aoxomoxoa—making music that was equally inspired by modern instrumentalists who build with walls of noise, such as Mogwai. There are a lot more inspirations in that mess, certainly—some hair metal, some really pretty sections of folk music mixing with dueling guitar solos and swooping keyboard lines… but the final word was that Citay (and, Jesus, what an awful name) was the first band I’ve seen all fest that I wanted to keep seeing. Whose steam didn’t run out right when its abbreviated showcase set time was up. It’s a factor that’s easy to forget when your musical attention span is forcibly shrunken by sets that average out to 25 minutes—“Hey! These weirdos from Denmark with matching raindrop T-shirts must be the next big thing!” Sometimes it takes more than half an album’s worth of material to prove that you’ve got the brass. I will try to see Citay once more—purely for such research reasons, I assure you.

Times New Viking—I figured the band would sound less like they’d been recorded off a tape deck when playing live…not the case. My buddy and I agreed that they sounded at least five times shittier in concert. Their eye-bulger of an intensely (and intentionally) sloppy set ended with a few guys in the front screaming “THANK YOU SO MUCH!” I wish I had more insight to offer about this set, but the way the crowd was swirling around and the way the band’s noise kinda melted into itself, I lost track.

Bedtime.

RSS icon Comments

1

Earthless' "metal drummer" is none other than Ruby Mars AKA Mario Rubalcaba, formerly of Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Clikitat Ikatowi, and Sea of Tombs. I would give at least a finger for that band to come to Seattle. And preferably play the Funhouse. Oh yes.

Posted by bunnypuncher | March 14, 2008 2:07 AM
2

Dude. I love Earthless. First real jealous moment of yr guys' coverage.

Posted by Jeff Kirby | March 14, 2008 3:46 AM
3

Highlights for me so far:


The Sword playing an all Faith No More set.


Van Morrison.


How's Your News


Monotonix


Red Fang


Dark Meat


Corn Mo & the .357 (somethings)


Kima Dawson


This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb


Naked Raygun

Posted by Abe | March 14, 2008 11:58 AM
4

Kim-Y-a

Posted by Abe | March 14, 2008 12:00 PM
5

I think the only people who care about all these breathless minute-by-minute SXSW blogs are other bloggers doing the same thing. Enough already.

Posted by Kirk | March 14, 2008 1:25 PM
6

sam. don't tease about those phosphorescent videos, dude. i will be coming back to line out looking for them.

i hope you caught him at the sunset a few months ago... you listen to a song like "how far we all come away" and you don't generally expect him to destroy the stage at the end of the show... but that's what happened. it was insanely fabulous.

Posted by sara | March 14, 2008 4:17 PM
7

@5: For the most part, I agree. But there's something to be said for bands that stand out at a clusterfuck like SXSW; if they're good at this mess, they'll be amazing when they come to Seattle. I'm trying to make this stuff even slightly relevant to a target audience--folks sitting in rainy cubicles and loading up Line Out in the morning. Sorry if I'm missing the boat.

Posted by Sam M. | March 15, 2008 1:13 AM

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