Long live rock, I need it every night

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - Austin, TX

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.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Mr & Ms Slice are doing well in Austin. Hope AG was kind with a transfer.

sacklunch said...

And I get criticized for spelling errors! Jumbo, use some fucking spell check. And I believe the headlining band is XIU XIU, not XUI XUI. Some things never change....

Jumbo Slice said...

Oops - I guess I can't pronounce or spell their name.

I love when Sacklunch starts getting on people about posting reviews late or not using spell check.

"Hi Kettle, it's Pot here. You're black".

Steve said...

Based on the past two years at SXSW, I gotta agree -- The Mohawk is pretty great. It can get extremely crowded (especially the inside stage area), but overall a great place. Especially love the main rooftop.

As for the Lone Star, though... worst beer ever. Stick with the Shiner.

The Staff at ABN said...

cool...I have to check this thao nguyen chick out. i hope the move to austin was a smooth one! i was going to see if you wanted to go to the polvo concert in a couple weeks--guess not:(


p.s. you guys need an rss feed so i can subscribe!

The Staff at ABN said...

cool...I have to check this thao nguyen chick out. i hope the move to austin was a smooth one! i was going to see if you wanted to go to the polvo concert in a couple weeks--guess not:(


p.s. you guys need an rss feed so i can subscribe!

Jumbo Slice said...

Hey Jami -

You *should* be able to get our rss feed from here:


I guess I ahould add that to the site.

Have fun at Polvo!

Jumbo Slice said...

Steve - Any suggestions on which place I should check out next? I was thinking Emo's or Stubbs.

Lone Star is a bad beer. I had a few Shiners before switching over. The Lone Stars were ice cold though and I was so happy to be out of the house I would have drank just about anything.

Steve said...

The answer to Emos vs. Stubbs comes down to where you're standing.

Stubbs is fantastic if you're in the front 1/3 of the venue (I'm referring to the outside stage - I've never been to the inside stage). The problem is that it goes way too far back, and the sound doesn't carry all that well, so if you get stuck in the back it's pretty bad. I was also disappointed this year to discover that the outdoor BBQ stand seems to be gone. I saw Wilco there back in 2004 during ACL Fest and the combination of a great show, good weather and BBQ was pretty much unbeatable.

Emo's is a very different experience. I refer to it as a much bigger CBGBs. The bathroom is almost as bad as CB's was, and the place always seems to be collapsing around you. (I actually saw wood from one of the ceiling beams break apart and fall on people during SXSW this year). There are also some really poorly placed support beams which can block the stage depending where you're standing. All that said, I still kinda like Emos, though I'm not sure why.

Two caveats - I have not been to either Stubbs or Emo's at the height of summer. Both are open-air (though Emo's has a roof over most of it), and I imagine mid-summer shows can be unbearably hot. Second, I really, really like the inside room at Emo's (Emo's Jr.). Dark, dank but very personal.

Sorry for the extra-long post.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I was just going to say, DON'T GO TO EMO'S IN THE SUMMER! AURGH! The crowd is smelly, and the heat is like being in an unplugged refrigerator in July.

I love Stubb's, and Mohawk. Outside shows at Stubb's aren't as bad Plus, Mohawk is brand-new, so it's clean. JS, your approach of by venue is very wise. So many places have jammed a small space in a corner or next to the bathroom, and call it a "stage." Also, Continental Club and Antone's.

Glad you and Mrs. Slice are settling in! We will have to get together soon!

Unknown said...

I'd say check out The Parish on 6th too, that place has stellar sound and it's a cool room. I've seen some amazing shows there.

Thanks for reminding me of all the things that are awesome about Austin and suck about DC. Lone Star is not the best, but I love it because it's cheap and because as a native Texan it's what I learned to drink beer on.