Friday, March 24, 2006

Micro SXSW Review, and more...

If you're the obsessive music-freak that I am (and I can only pray that you aren't) then you're probably glad that people have stopped writing about the infamous South by Southwest Music conference/party/debacle. In that case I'll take it easy on you with my econo-review. I knew that I wouldn't get to see most of the bands I wanted to see, or even most of the bands that it would have been so convenient to see that it was stupid, due to the nature of the trip. I went with my bandmate and friend Chad and his wife Anne for the Roller Derby bout, so any live music would just be an added bonus. I'll admit that I was actually more interested in the music part but I think I was preparing myself for the inevitable dissappointment of being in proximity to SO many legendary, and future legendary performers without being able to see them. This was after all a casual affair.

The Derby itself was entertaining. It was held at the Austin Music Hall, and featured live performances by The Spits (Seattle), and The Motels (Hollywood?) with original singer Martha Davis. I pretty much predicted the way the Spits would come across in this setting...poorly. But that was through no fault of their own. They need to be seen in a cramped, sweaty, beer-soaked club or house to get it done right. They were on a fairly high stage at one end of the makeshift roller-derby track in a relatively empty, medium-sized venue, during the day with bad sound. Most punk(or other) bands would not have faired well under these conditions. I got as close as I could, swilling beer and trying to get into it. I thought to myself that I was lucky to be seeing them at all and consoled myself with the prospect of checking out more bands at Beerland later that day. The Motels played their two and-a-half hits(Eighties light-rock/alternative staples, "Suddenly, Last Summer" and "Only the lonlely can play..." I believe they're called) to a warmer reception after the competition was over. Her voice sounded good but I can't say the same for her band of young, hired-guns with the cliched modern, hard-rock, alternative sound.

I made it to Beerland in time to see the last two bands of the Contaminated Records showcase. I believe the label is run by Memphis musician Alicja Trout of the Lost Sounds and other dark, well-liked bands. I walked in to find out that Human Eye was about to take the stage. I really enjoyed the Clone Defects album but hadn't heard much of the new band, though I knew they were quite a bit more experimental. Timmy Vulgar came out and began to decorate the stage with tropical plants and other items, even hanging some from the rafters above him and the band. They then launched into a set of futuristic, oddly psychedelic, garage-punk, with nods to jazz and all kinds of explorers that would melt your brain under the right circumstances. This is pop-music in some alternate universe...heavily, analog-effects laden rock and roll, with lots of unexpected changes and an extra helping of angst. You'd have to hear it, and for those who might be unaware Timmy looks like a much cooler psych-punk Clint Howard. (Chad seemed to think he looked like a shaved Chewbacca...fair enough)

The Gris Gris came on to headline and even though I was even less familar with them, they( an obviously less-rockin' band in style) had no problem playing after and matching the intensity of Human Eye, albeit in a very different manner. Essentially a psych band with nods to progessive and garage rock, as well as the spooky feel of old scratchy, lonesome blues records the Gris Gris seem to be enjoyable by a diverse group of music fans. Obvious touchstones include the Velvet Underground, and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators but the instrumentation went beyond both of those fine, fine groups in a way. It's interesting to me that the two best bands I saw at SXSW both made use of a vocal effects, and other guitar-effects, and electronics as I have shyed away from that quite a bit in recent years...But the pendulum does swing. The Gris Gris's main accomplishment would seem to be overcoming the faults of many of their predecessors in this well-mined genre. Oh, and they DO rock, and will be performing 4/27 at Rubber Gloves in Denton. (above photo stolen from the Goner Message Board/posted by "Windy"/edited by me...)

One of the main reasons for the delay of this post has been my inability to decide just how personal to get with it. The past few weeks have been stressful, painful, and transitional in nature for my family as well as the families of others in my thoughts. I'll only say that our lives will never be the same but in the end peace and love shall triumph.

...lame links for (and by) the lazy:
Gris Gris
Human Eye
The Spits

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

SXSW Madness!

The ebb and flow of insanity...

I've been even more neglectful of my blog lately. The two rules I try to adhere to are 1) Give the folks a purty picture to look at along with the post, and 2) Don't post unless you have something interesting to share. I would love to add more rules involving posting Mp3's and other tidbits, but I'm not there yet. Needless to say there hasn't been much going on lately that I've felt like sharing. I do feel myself moving into a new, and better phase of my life and that in itself is a double-edged sword. I'm ready to jump in with both feet but there are those pesky "loose ends" that need to be tied-up, and put behind me. I'm having a great time playing with Saddle Tramp, and hanging out with those guys, and it's nice to have some cool new friends with similar interests, and diverse personalities. In fact I feel like I'm getting a much needed creative boost that I plan to channel into my artwork. I can't begin to tell you how guilty I feel about not using my "gift". I hope that doesn't sound cocky, but I just know deep down that I am supposed to be doing some form of artwork. I just need to make it a part of my routine again.

In an odd turn-of-fate, all the members of the band will be in Austin for SXSW this week. Noah is probably already on his way, as he will be attending as a representative of the Dallas Observer, for which he writes about music (lucky bastard). Matt also works for the Observer but he's just going for the reasons's most folks are; to drink beer and watch great, live music. Chad and I are going to accompany his wife Anne to the big Roller-Derby competition which she is competing in. This should be a good one. The Spits are playing for pete's sake! We're going to try to go to a bunch of free shows (no armband/no problem) and be stupid in general. I've always been a little hesitant about attending this monster music conference, but as it grows in size the free shows seem to multiply like viagra-fueled bunnies. I just hope I don't get trampled by the requisite flocks of hipsters from across the globe. I'll let you know what happens...