Mrs. Slice and I couldn't wait for this show. Not only was it our first night out in Austin (after a week of unpacking) but one of our favorite artist was playing. We're big fans of Thao Nguyen and were anxious to see her play with The Get Down Stay Down. Also on the bill were locals Weird Weeds. Headlining the show was Xiu Xiu. That's pronounce Shoo-Shoo in case you didn't know (which I didn't).
Weird Weeds had an unusual set up. The drummer was front and center AND manning the vocals. Phil Collins this guy was not. [wait - is that a good or bad thing?] While a decent drummer his singing was umm, lets say unspectacular. Not a big deal since Weird Weeds aren't exactly appealing to the American Idol crowd. They had an art rock/no wave sound which at times reminded me of Deerhoof and other times The Velvet Underground. The guitarist sat the entire show. She had a unique style which included playing the guitar with a bow. It didn't sound great but it was better than her Joanna Newsom-esque vocals.
Now, I didn't hate Weird Weeds but I didn't loved them either. I give credit to bands for doing something new or different. I enjoyed the layered sounds. They don't write songs with catchy lyrics or big hooks so nothing really grabbed me. There were parts I enjoyed but overall I was underwhelmed.
Before I get to Thao's set, a word about the venue - The Mohawk. You can't swing a dead cat in Austin without hitting a music venue. Most restaurants and bars have some space set aside for a band. I've decided that instead of going to see certain bands I'm going to check out the various venues first. I'll listen to whoever is on the bill that night. The Mohawk has one indoor stage and a large outdoor stage. The main stage has two large decks that look down on the stage. You get a great view and can even pull up a seat. DC doesn't really have any outdoor venues like that. The beer was cheap too which is always a plus. Chilled cans of Lone Star go for $3. I helped myself to plenty.
Okay, back to the concert. Next up was Thao & The Get Down stay Down. They kicked off with three new songs including "Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)" and "Geography" off We Brave Bee Stings And All. After a few songs, Thao recalled how they spent their day in Austin. Frank, the guitarist, had spent 3 semesters at University of Texas here in Austin. He insisted they go see the bats as they fly from the Congress Bridge at dusk. The band skipped dinner and waited over an hour only to see about 16 bats flutter off into the night. Not exactly an awe inspiring event. Thao's advice to those considering watching the bats: Don't go.
The show highlights were a foot stomping version of "Bag of Hammers" and "Tallymarks", the best song off Thao's debut album "Like The Linen". I also enjoyed their closer "Fear And Convenience". I was impressed at the skill of the The Get Down Stay Down. Thao couldn't ask for a better backing band. I was especially impressed by Frank's work on the guitar. It's a far cry from the style he played in Verbal (one of my favorite DC bands). Here's Thao and the guys playing "Bag of Hammers":
After Thao's set we stuck around for a bit of Xiu Xiu's set. It was okay but as with most art rock it was hit or miss. It didn't take long for Mrs. Slice, eight months pregnant, to say it was time to go.
Thao and The Get Down Stay Down get a Rock Club Rating of 8.0. They put on a rousing set for an enthusiastic crowd. I loved the venue and was amazed at how friendly everyone was - we must have talked with 20 different people. All in all a great way to start our time here in Texas.