The Austin music scene through the eyes of a programmer/music enthusiast/show-goer

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Band of Horses: Yeehaw! (see 'Weed Party')

It's no secret that showgazer loves them some Band of Horses. So when BOH rolls into town showgazer is gonna be there front and center (or a little off to the side really). And when they choose to play our favorite venue, The Parish, that's just icing on the cake.

Openers The Can't See and Mt.Egypt were less than could be hoped for, but what're ya gonna do ... you're about to see BOH for the 3rd time this year. Quit complaining. I actually dug Mt.Egypt, which is basically the work of one dude (Travis Graves), who was backed by BOH's drummer and bass player. It was just a little too chill for me at the time when I was struggling to stay awake for the main event. I did find it amusing when between every song he'd say "Thanks dudes" while doing the hang-10 hand symbol.

But enough of the small talk. Let's jump to the main course. BOH rolled up to the stage being lead in by some dirty rap song and they were into it -- w/ singer Ben Bridwell throwin' his hands in the air (and he didn't care). They launched into 'Monsters', the first of what would be "every song we know how to play" (according to Bridwell) for the night.

(file photo) Guitarist Mat Brooke - Where am I?

It was at this point when I started to question where BOH co-founder and guitarist Mat Brooke was. You know, the tall, quiet one w/ lots of tats and the money beard. Did he quit the band? Is he just hungover from last night? Maybe he got sent up w/ Johnny Law. Wherever he was, he wasn't where he should be -- playin' guitar for my happy ass. So this troubled me the entire show as I realized he would not be gracing us with his presence. Later I saw this story in the Tuscon Weekly, which says:

"Although Brooke isn't performing with the group on their current tour (he recently opened a bar in Seattle), she says that Bridwell's stage presence more than makes up for it."
While I do dig on Bridwell's stage persona (which is quite humble/shy about the great songs he writes until it turns into fun/enthusiam), I can't say I completely agree with that statement because I enjoy Brooke's quiet, creepiness just as much. He's got a hell-of-a stage presence himself and his deeper, soothing backing vocals on the albums softer tracks show his true value. Cest la vie. As long as he continues to collaborate with Bridwell on the albums to come.

(file photo) Singer/Guitarist/Founder Ben Bridwell

After accepting the fact he wasn't coming out to play I set out for an enjoyable set. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. Bridwell at one point quipped he was going to "make a baby" with the Austin crowd because we were much nicer to the band than the evil Houston crowd the night before.

The baby making songs included hits 'The Funeral' (of course) and my personal favorite 'The Great Salt Lake' (fyi: back of the boat = wrecking ball). They also did a cover of Hall & Oats' 'You Make My Dreams', which was helped out on by Mt.Egypt's Graves. They played a few new songs, including one Bridwell said was named after "NBA Legend Detlef Schrempf" just because the song "needed a name." It was not about basketball, but I like the nod to the former Mav. At one point Bridwell said, "We're going to play a different song we already played. No seriously." At that point they launched into a second version of 'Wicked Gil' (aka 'Bass Song'), which was a slower, more chill version from the albums, played earlier in the show. And I finally got a chance to see 'Weed Party' (yeehaw), which wasn't played at either show I'd seen them at before.

(file photo) Band at End Of An Ear in-store

While 90% of the crowd was there to see one song performed (hint: you go to it when people die), which was constantly yelled out for the duration of the show, it did provide some funny moments. After one jackass suggested they play it (like they weren't gonna get to it at the END of the set idiots), Bridwell said "No, this is NOT 'The Funeral'." Then his guitar strap unhooked itself causing him to almost drop his guitar. At that point he joked that "God smite me" for not fulfilling the request.

So other than Brooke not showing up, it was a great show. I do think that the two shows I caught of them at SXSW at Red Eyed Fly and the End Of An Ear in-store (which someone caught part of here) were better though (see Brooke's attendance). But I'll take 4/5ths of BOH over nothing any day. Plus I'll see the guys again in Chicago at the fork-fest in July. Maybe Brooke will make that trip (you better sucka). If not, I'll have The National / Spoon / Destroyer / Tapes 'n Tapes / The Walkmen to make up for it). Yayah.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Beck Live: Hell Yes!

Beck and Jamie Lidell played The Backyard on the outskirts of town last week, and I have to say it was one of the most imaginative shows I've ever been to. It was my first time to The Backyard since the once amazing view behind the stage was replaced by a giant mall. Way to go big business. Sad really, but hey we need more Best Buys right? Bitches.

After that sour taste in my mouth was replaced with sweet sweet Lone Star it was time for the show. We rolled up to Jamie Lidell's bizarre set of techno and beat boxing, infused with a couple of his soulful tracks from the Multiply album. I can't really say I enjoyed his set. His big hit, 'Multiply', closed the show and it was a decent song. I did also enjoy his odd wardrobe choice, which consisted of a silk bathrobe and a white towel around his neck. Not sure if he was rushed out of the shower before the show, but he should have taken his time. The majority of his set being taken up by a mess of electronic sounds thrown together under his beat-boxing + a couple of real songs in between just didn't do it for me.

Strike one against Beck and his $40 ticket price. But luckily the man himself was just around the corner to make it all worthwile. Not only did we get to see Beck and his band of funky looking cohorts, including a dancing Napolean Dynamite knock off, but we got to see the band twice over because they were doubled as puppets. PUPPETS! And it didn't suck. Seriously. It was quite good.

photo by shadoflamex

Imagine every concert you've ever been to, but instead of the drum kit being back-center stage, there's a small version of the stage you're looking at, but with puppets comprising the band. Every band member, including Napolean who didn't really play an instrument (except for a sweet banjo-syncing display during one song), had their own puppet performing along w/ them. The puppets were being video taped and displayed on a large screen behind the band, as well as on a tiny screen behind the puppet band. Freaky. The video would switch between regular live footage, and music-video-ified special effects that would turn Beck Puppet into a drugged out kaliedescope version of himself.

Beck took the stage asking where all the "Guero's" were. For those not in the know, that's not just a taco bar on South Congress. Guero is Spanish slang for "white boy" -- which apparently Beck was labeled growing up in East L.A. A large number of classic Beck hits were performed, including snippets of my favorites 'Beercan' (best Beck song ever) and 'Hell Yes'. He hit just about every album he's put out with at least a few tracks, including the down-tempo Sea Change, which was book-ended by the more upbeat electro tunage. During one of the Sea Change numbers performed by Beck and his bass-player (the one w/ the huge white boy fro) on the acoustic guitar, the rest of the band were joined by Jamie Lidell for a "conceptual meal," as Beck described it. They sat at a wooden dinner table adorned with plates, dishes, and glasses full of water. They joined in on the song by having their own ho-down -- banging spoons on all of the dishes and the table. The puppets played along on their own tiny version of the table. It really made the song.

Beck also gave us some insight into his love for R.Kelly, which was quite amusing. He explained how one day when he was cruising in his car scanning tradionally crappy radio in L.A. he passed on the usual top-40 and grunge mailaise and stopped on R.Kelly's ghetto-fied R&B because he found it much more entertaining how it's all about gettin' freaky and what not. I can't remember what song he morphed into his own R&B sex-fest, but it was hilarious.

The puppets provided some quality pre-encore entertainment as the crowd watched a video of their exploits in Austin earlier that day. They went running at town lake, which included 2 puppets chasing some girls down and another doing situps w/ a sweaty exercising dude. Some other puppets paid homage to Stevie Ray Vaughan at his statue. They also dined on some Amy's Ice Cream. Beck puppet made an appearance at Guero's Taco Bar where he asked where the "guerolitas were at". The puppet band regrouped at The Backyard where they did some lounging in hammocks before gathering together for some band love before hitting the stage. You know that scene in Almost Famous where Stillwater gather in a circle and sing that song they always sing before running out of stage? Imagine that, but w/ puppets, singing lines from Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun', Pearl Jam's 'Even Flow', and Alice In Chains' 'Rooster'. They came to snuff that rooster. Quality stuff. The puppets went back onstage where they performed 'Loser', sans real band helping out.

The show's closer, 'Where It's At', featured Napolean walking on stage w/ a boom-box that got progressively larger every time he returned to the stage until he finally returned w/ airplane light sticks directing a massive boom-box onto the stage. The big boom-box didn't really do anything, but it was impressive to see such a big f**king boom-box. And that was it. All in all $40 well spent I say.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Review: The Constantines

The Constantines were joined by Oakley Hall Thursday night at Emo's. If you weren't there then you missed one of the best shows of 2006. Straight up.

The intensity with which they played had the entire crowd hooked from song one. From then on there was constant audience clapping to the beat + yelling/singing lyrics along w/ the band. This is what bands that are really into their music -- and good music at that -- should play like. Denmark's Figurines should take note. These Canadians have got the goods.

They played quite a few favorites off the recent Tournament of Hearts, including an awesome rendition of my favorite, "Soon Enough", which featured Oakley Hall fiddler Claudia Mogel and backup singer Rachel Cox. Past album songs included "Arizona", "Young Lions", and "Nighttime Anytime (It's Alright)". There was also a raucous version of "Shine A Light", which involved all band members and 1/2 the audience raising their arms like sunbeams before they simultaneously came crashing down in a blast of rock to cap the song. The bass player even climbed atop his amp tower only to jump back down to the stage for the songs' closing.

There were a couple of missteps, however, but all can be forgiven. Two songs, including "Theives" off Tournament of Hearts were sung by guitarist Steve Lambke. While I like this song on disc, his voice doesn't really translate well in a live setting. His soft, nasally voice coupled with his less-commanding presence was all but consumed by the music's thunder. Leave it to the master, lead singer Bry Webb, whose gruff voice serves as it's own equal instrument in the Constantines brutal attack.

The dude in front of me that performed air-drums throughout the entire set, w/o a single care as to how ridiculous he might have looked, about sums it up for how intoxicating they were live. Personally I can't wait for them to return to Austin. Until then I will be honing my own air-drumming skills in the privacy of my own home.

Walking into Emos I was a little worried. The first of the two opening bands was finsihing up and the volume was so loud you couldn't tell the girl at the door you were already on the list. My ears didn't stop ringing until two days after the show (but I think the Constantines might have had something to do with that as well). Having never heard Oakley Hall before, I was worried about what we were in for. Fortunately they were nothing like the preceeding band and were actually quite good. Oakley Hall's country-fied rock features multiple guitars, a keyboard, and a fiddle - a quality touch if you ask me. And let's not forget those two cute female contibutors either. They won over a good portion of the audience as their set chugged along. More and more people flooded in from the Emos patio to - heaven forbid - actually come listen to the music being played inside.

You're likely to hear more about Oakley Hall. Already with two (!!!) albums out in 2006 alone (Second Guessing, Gypsum Strings), they will make their mark on in due time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Alexi Murdoch rocks(?) Waterloo Records

British singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch joined the fine folks at Waterloo Records Wednesday afternoon for a 5-song set from his recent debut album, Time Without Consequence. I was there. It was legit.

I've heard Murdoch a few times before ... most recently on Seattle's KEXP (yeah I rep it. I'm a member. no shame in the game). But I first heard him from his amazing song 'Orange Sky' featured in the movie Garden State (also played on KEXP). Sadly this masterpiece did not make it on to the infamous soundtrack for the movie. It was probably a ploy to get us to all wait 2 years for the full length album. Well I'm sold. It's finally out and it's on the album. Hooray for everyone. Sadly he did not play it for the Waterloo on-lookers.

I say "rock(?)" because Murdoch doesn't technically rock. It's way more soft-core. It's pretty much him, his guitar, and his beautiful lyrics. And it doesn't hurt that his voice is amazing as well. At least that's how to describe his performance at the 'loo. The album is a little more fleshed out, but the centerpiece is him and his guitar. I'm curious how his offical live show goes. Does he play w/ a band? Maybe yes, maybe no. But give him an acoustic guitar and that's pretty much all you need. Anyone that would like to know what he's like live, check him out Thursday night (6/15) at Stubbs and report back. I will be down the street at Emos catching The Constantines, but more about them tomorrow.

I'd recommend picking up Murdoch's first full length. It's quite good. It would make a great rainy day soundtrack or something to put on when you need a break from the bang and clatter of the other indie-rock bands we spout about on this site (see Tapes 'n Tapes & Cold War Kids).

Peristroika + Hamlet + Badgers = good times

Tapes 'n Tapes, joined by Figurines and Cold War Kids brought their traveling road show to Stubbs' indoor stage Tuesday night for what turned out to be a good time had by all. Well at least by me (and my lady). I'd seen Tapes 'n Tapes before when they played for the KEXP SXSW broadcast at ACL studios in March. It was enjoyable, but not the same feeling as seeing them live. As for the Figurines and Cold War Kids, it was a new experience, and a chance to put the hype to the test.

I'd say I'm a "Cold War" kid. I grew up w/ Gorby (that's Gorbachev -- yeah the dude w/ the funny spot on this head). I'm all about "glastnost" (which means "openess", at least according to my 6th grade history teacher). And who could forget "peristroika" (economic "restructuring"). Those were some good times. I can't really say if you bottle all that fun up you'd come out w/ Los Angeles based Cold War Kids' brand of off-beat rock, but I am convinced. My pre-show prediction was that at least one of the 2 hype-a-thon bands would deliver and Cold War Kids did that. They were legit. I was on the fence about em after a few listens, but after seeing them totally get into what they were playing and hearing the songs much louder and in the flesh, I have a whole new appreciation for the EPs. Listening to the Up In Rags EP again today brought back all the stompin', dancin' around the stage, and buckets of sweat they were leaving all over the Stubbs' stage. Good times. I recommend listening to show opener (maybe ... there were drinks) 'Hang Me Out To Dry' at high volume levels. It was in my head all night and the day following the show. The uncontrollable urge to bounce your whole body to the beat is natural. Go w/ it.

Back to my pre-show prediction: one band would succeed, while the other would falter. I'm gonna come out and say that I was right. Figurines didn't do it for me. But I guess following a much more energetic Cold War Kids, they didn't really have a chance. Hailing from Hamlet's (it's a play; a good one; look into it) home of Denmark, the Figurines just didn't convice me that they actually enjoyed playing their music. Everyone pretty much stayed in their places for the entirety of the show, until they finally got into it during the last songs' post-thanks-for-coming-out encore jam session. But it was too little, too late. I think the pretty boy bass player (in pic on far right) did them in for me. He seemed like he cared more about how he looked than rockin' out. Tsk tsk. It wasn't all bad. I dug a couple of tracks, like their opener (which I couldn't tell you what it was), because it evoked a Neil Young quality that was quite good. Unfortunately, the entire package was lacking. (note: this pic was taken in front of KEXP studios, which is pretty cool. the KEXP sign is anyway.)

But alas, I knew our friends from the land of 10,000 lakes (that's Minnesota) were up next to bring life back to the party. And that they did. Tapes 'n Tapes put on a raucous set which opened w/ most of their rock-out loud songs (see Insistor, Cowbell). I'm in. Get the crowd hooked, then bring it down a notch. Then bring the Cold War Kids' singer and guitar player up for some indie-mega-band sing along action (can't remember which song, but it was dope). And close it down w/ some Crazy Eights. After seeing the live show, I can safely say that I will indeed be their badger. No idea what that means, but I'm doing it.

ps. seriously Kelly ... who's the logger?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fear Not. Showgazer is alive! and w/ shows to speak of ...

It's been a while, yes. For that showgazer apologizes. Being slaves to the proverbial "man" have forced showgazer under ground -- well, more like in a cubicle -- for a while. Please forgive us.

Ok, now with that out of the way, on to bidniss. It's been a while since I've been to a good show, so I figured I'd point out some good upcoming shows that I'm excited about. That is not to say we haven't been to good shows. We have not forsaken you Black Angels -- we're just lazy on the posting. But we've been through that (see above). The show at the Parish a while back was top notch.

Now on to this week in shows to gaze ...

Tuesday 6/13

Tapes 'n Tapes @ Waterloo Records (free instore 5pm)
Tapes 'n Tapes, Figurines, Cold War Kids @ Stubb's (indoors)
comments: I'm headed to the windy city (that's Chicago for all complete idiots out there) for the fork fest at the end of july. Just can't pass up a chance to see The National and Band of Horses in my old stomping grounds of chi-town. Got CUBS tix too. It's shaping up to be a quality weekend. Anyway ... Tapes 'n Tapes are also on the bill, so I wasn't too thrilled about this show. Then I discovered it was a mere $10! That's insanity. + 2 openers that have mad hype and at least one of them has to be worth their weight in blog-mania. I'm guessin' it's those Kids. I dig some of what I've heard from their 3 EPs. Not too crazy about the Figurines from what I've peeped, but they might surprise. You never know. For $10 I'm willing to find out.

Thursday 6/15
Constantines @ Waterloo Records (free instore 5pm)
Constantines, Oakley Hall, Camp X-Ray, Possessed by Paul James, Come Latelys @ Emo's
comments: I've been waiting to see The Constantines ever since I finally got around to listening to their awesome 3rd disc, Tournament of Hearts. Hearing 'Soon Enough' live will be worth the price of admission for me. That song contains one of my favorite lyrics of all 2005 discs: women are winning the tournament of hearts ... somebody's gotta lose. Check these Canadians out and you surley won't lose. (i hope). Also a mere $10.

Friday 6/16
I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness @ Elysium
The Streets, Lady Sovereign @ La Zona Rosa
comments: probably won't be checking out either of these shows, but they will most likely be good. I love you, but i've already seen you a few times. And for the hippity hop ... never really been my thing checking it out live. I dig on some Mike Skinner on disc, but let's keep that confined to just me in my car (with the windows rolled up). I keed. I'm really black. Ok, not really. A man can dream.

And that's just this week. Next week is shaping up to be dirty good ...

Monday 6/19
The Walkmen, Richard Swift, Talkdemonic @ La Zona Rosa
comments: probably won't be at this one, as it's a school night. BUT ... the walkmen's latest is pretty good. I like. Also, openers Talkdemonic were picked to open for my current favorite band -- The National -- for a few shows earlier this year. That is instant cred as far as I'm concerned. This show will not disappoint.

Tuesday 6/20
Beck, Jamie Lidell @ the
comments: it's BECK. He's a legend. And the Backyard is a dope venue. (At least it used to be. It's been tainted by that chump from Matchbox 20 and that chump from Creed, but Bob Dylan likes the place, so that's good enough for me). I know it's a hefty $40 show, but live a little. I haven't seen Beck EVER, so I figure he's due. There better be white boy breakdancing. Or at least some robot.

Friday 6/23
Sonic Youth, Awesome Color @
comments: never really got into Sonic Youth, but I understand lots of peeps like them. That's pretty much why they're on the list. Check it out if you dig.

Saturday 6/24
The Futureheads, French Kicks @
La Zona Rosa
comments: never been much for the Futureheads. saw them open for the Delays a long time ago and they just annoyed me. Also can't get past their best song being a cover (of Kate Bush). Maybe they're better now that they've made a shitload of money in Europe. But I doubt it. My money's on the French Kicks. I've only peeped their new disc, Two Thousand, once or twice, but I think I like it. It needs more listens, but I might check them out if I am really hard up for something to do Sat night. Likely I will be preparing myself for the greatness that is to come Sunday night at the Parish...

Sunday 6/25

Band of Horses, Mt. Egypt, The Can't See @ the
Parish Room
Peter & the Wolf @
comments: Sorry Red. Hope the sailboat tour was a success. But you have some stiff competition up the street at a venue that doesn't cause death while using the restroom or sound like a tin can. BAND of HORSES ride into town again after a pair of legit shows at SXSW in March. They've been on the road for a while and I'm eagerly awaiting to see how they've honed their performance chops since a nervous show amongst record execs (and David Cross) at the Red Eye Fly. Favorite album of the year (so far ... damn that Silversun Pickups album for making me choose!) + favorite Austin venue = good times. You've been warned. I'm certain this will be one of my favorite shows of 2006.

That's all she wrote. My picks: Band of Horses, Constantines, Tapes (x2). Do with that what you will.

ps. The Mavs just went up 2-0. YAYAH! Sorry Derek (he likes the Spurs). God will forgive you. Us Mavs fans have been through a lot of shitty years to get here (pretty much my whole natural life). Just let us have our fun.