Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From the man who brought you "Bitch, I Love You"...

Black Joe Lewis. Enjoy.

SXSW: Day Four

We've made it to Day Four - finally! It seems like I've been writing these SXSW recaps forever. This one is going to be brief, I swear. Saturday I went to one party: the Mess With Texas party at Waterloo Park. It's an all ages show so we brought my daughter and made it a family day.

Mess With Texas is awesome. Check out some of the bands they had this year: The Black Lips, The Circle Jerks, Monotonix, The Thermals, Vivian Girls, Thao & The Get Down Stays Down, Cursive, King Khan & the Shrines, Akron Family, Soft Pack, Japanther, and Vetiver. Huh? Yeah, I thought so.

Pretty in Blue - Thao Nguyen

We arrived as Cursive was on the main stage. I only caught a few songs since we were busy meeting up (and catching up) with friends. The main goal was to see Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. They're my wife's favorite band and my daughter loves their album, We Brave Bee Stings And All. Seriously, she's 10 months old and the she shakes her little tambourine while the CD plays on the stereo. It's really quite cute.

Pretty In Pink - Willis Thompson

Before Thao & The Get Down Stay Down took the stage we were hanging out with them backstage. Willis said he had a big favor to ask: "Can I wear your shirt during our set?" I said sure, no problem (see above photo). It is ghey that Willis and I share clothes? Perhaps. Is it ghey that I own multiple gingham cowboy shirts with pearl snaps? Absolutely. Not that there's anything wrong with pearl snap shirts. Moving on...

Pretty in Pink Headphones

Here's my wife and daughter relaxing during the Vivian Girls set. On Twitter I said, "Vivian Girls not very talented but I dig the sound nonetheless." A lot of friends were unimpressed with the band at SXSW but I'd definitely pay to see them again. The next band was The Thermals. God I love those guys (and girl). I found myself shouting out the lyrics, jumping around, and having a blast. Some bands whither in a festival setting, some thrive. The Thermals are the latter.

The Slice Family backstage at the Mess With Texas party

Hanging out backstage was a lot of fun. My wife was happy because there was plenty of shaded seating and you could carry on a conversation without yelling. I liked the free beer and seeing tons of people I recognized. I resisted being a total jock sniffer and taking pictures of (and with) every indie rocker I saw. I mostly talked with friends and watched bands like Lucero, The Bronx, Japanther, and Trash Talk from the side of the stages. Although I did see the lead singer of Monotonix standing around in his tighty-whities and Hutch Harris of The Thermals enjoying a post-performance doobie.

After a while we all left for dinner where my daughter engaged in some hilarious staring contests with Dempsey (sound man for Thao). She was fascinated with his big beard. We discussed the evening showcases but I had such a great day I decided to bring my SXSW adventures to a close. It was without a doubt the best time I've had since moving to Austin. I've already started my campaign to get the rest of Rock Club down here for SXSW 2010 - assuming the blog lasts that long.

Monday, March 30, 2009

SXSW: Day Three

Jumbo Slice drags his kid out to SXSW

Day Three of SXSW 2009. I skipped the Friday day parties so I was rested and ready for the evening. I started out at my friend Callie's (a.k.a. Show Lush) house. She hosts great backyard shows and for SXSW she was featuring Salvador Duran. It began early so my wife and daughter joined the party. Duran is a Tucson based flamenco guitarist who has toured with bands such as Calexico and Iron and Wine. His music incorporates many styles but much is based on traditional Mexican folk music. He plays guitar while his feet provide percussion via a wooden stomping box. I didn't understand what he was singing about but it didn't matter. It was a mesmerizing performance that amazed all in attendance but perhaps none more than my daughter. She was super squirmy all evening but the moment Salvador started singing with that beautiful voice she was as still as a statue enraptured by his music.

Future of the Left

After a quick dinner at Whole Foods I met a certain Going Out Guru for Future of the Left. As I said in on Twitter, "Future of the Left is fierce, funny, funky, but mostly really pissed off." I saw a lot of good bands at SXSW but Future of the Left was the best. The stage was above the crowd with the bar serving as a moat. The venue normally hosts burlesque shows so it was a odd to see a bunch of angry Scots Welsh guys ripping through songs. By the end of the set I was kicking myself for not seeing them earlier in the day.

Next up was a quick meeting with some friends at another bar. A band called Casiokids was onstage and it was the complete antithesis of the intensity we just experienced. Nonetheless the place was packed with lots of dancing hotties so the band was doing something right. After one beer we were back on 6th Street heading to see Kurt Vile.

Kurt Vile

All I knew about Kurt Vile was that he was a member of The War on Drugs, the Philadelphia band that released the excellent Wagonwheel Blues album last year. At this particular show was the head honcho from Matador Records, one of the labels vying to sign Vile. If having a label executive there bothered him it didn't show. He operated without a set list and his banter to the crowd was pretty bland. However, when he was playing it was clear the kid has something special. Based on what I heard that night, I wouldn't be surprised if five years from now I'm bragging about seeing Kurt Vile perform to a room of less than 20 people, before he hit it big.

Major Stars

Next up was Major Stars from Boston. Wow this is an unattractive band. Good thing they can rock. They played some crazy psychedelic and heavy shit. It was a little jammy, a little sloppy, but overall they put on an entertaining show. Then we skipped over to Emo's for the final bands of the night. I caught a few songs by Crystals Stilts before switching to the other stage to see a band I've wanted to see for some time: King Khan and the Shrines.

"Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me. I'd fuck me hard."

This review is already way too long so I'll keep this brief. King Khan did his best James Brown impression and about halfway through the set one of The Shrines did his best Jame Gum Gumb ("Buffalo Bill") impression. It made me throw up in my mouth a little so I figured I'd share it with all of you. Enjoy.

Tomorrow: Day Four of SXSW and my final recap.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Plus Ca Change...

...plus c'est la meme chose. Translated from the francais, this expression means that gay-assed party photos have been with us forever and it shall always be thus. Here's a particularly amusing one I saw this week--from left to right, it's the great Andrew Ridgely, of Wham!, Steve Norman of the newly-reunited Spandau Ballet, and Steve Strange of the easily-forgotten Visage.

As mentioned Spandau Ballet is back together. I remember "True," which was terrible, but here's something even worse--"Chant No. 1" from their performance on Top of the Pops in 1982. This is the badness:

On the positive side, I love this new Decemberists song, "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid." I didn't realize they could rock out like this, it's awesome. The new album is a proggy concept piece about how a little girl goes walking in the forest and makes friends with a midget, and then plays a tune on a pan-flute that causes said midget to grow to the size of a normal human adult.

That vid was fan-created. I think "memoryburn7" did a pretty fair job there.

Show Preview: Deleted Scenes

We interrupt this post-SXSW coverage to remind you about the Deleted Scenes tomorrow night at the Black Cat. Opening for them are two very solid bands: The Drones and Pretty & Nice. Check out this little video that was posted at BYT. I love that everyone on the Metro just completely ignores Dan (lead singer of Deleted Scenes) while he plays. It's very DC:

Finally, here are Dan's thoughts on headlining at the Black Cat, taken from our recent interview:

DCRC: You have a headlining show at the Black Cat's mainstage on Saturday, March 28th. That's a goal that almost all DC indie rock bands aspire to but few realize. Was that a goal of yours? Any other goals you've set for the band?

DS: I'm not sure how much of an accomplishment it is. It's very scary. I've seen a lot of bands that fail to draw there, and it's one of the saddest things. That huge checkered floor just gapes at you when the place is empty. I hope people show up! We're pretty psyched about it though. We're releasing a cassingle at that show that is dubbed over old cassette singles I bought from Ebay. So people will be able to hear us with Gloria Estefan or Tag Team faintly audible in the background, which is really the way we've always intended our music be heard. Other goals? We want to stop working and be on tour for an indefinite number of months...maybe like 9 or something. And keep writing weirder and prettier songs.

EDITED TO ADD: be sure to read the article on Deleted Scenes in today's Going Out Guru section of The Post. It's another example of Dan's sense of humor and why we like the band.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SXSW: Day Two

Wednesday was the busiest day for me. I saw a total of 18 bands. In SXSW terms, that's really not that much though. I started the day at the Gorilla vs. Booze party. They had free Red Stripe beer so it was worth riding my bike out there. I only got to see one band: Harlem. They play fun-loving, sloppy, lo-fi tunes with names like "Psychedelic Tits". Needless to say, I'm a big fan.

After Harlem I headed to the A Blog and a Band party. Felix Obelix, a twee band from North Carolina, played first followed by Deleted Scenes. It was great to see Deleted Scenes one last time before they headed back to DC. Don't forgot to join Rock Club at Deleted Scenes show the Black Cat this Saturday night.

Next up was a meeting with Steve from BabyStew.com. We met at the French Legation in East Austin which is a cool venue for SXSW shows. It has lush lawns for you to sprawl out, relax, and enjoy the music. It's perfect for a mid-day siesta or a game of Jarts. While there I saw Efterklang, Alela Diane, and Camera Obscura (pictured above). Efterklang was odd in a good way but Camera Obscura was disappointing. Their set just seemed blah so I decided to bolt after about 4 songs and go see The Wrens.

I arrived back at 6th St. in time for The Wrens but the line at the Radio Room was massive. I decided to suck it up since Thao and The Get Down Stay Down (pictured above) were also playing after The Wrens. So I waited. And waited. It was almost time for Thao's set and the line was still super long so I said, "fuck this." I left the line and was walking to my bike when I ran into Thao (we're friends from back in the day). When I pointed out the line she snuck me into the club by telling the security I was her roadie. Once inside I grabbed a beer and vowed never to waste my time like that again. SXSW offers too many bands to spend time standing in line.

After Thao's set I went to another bar to see The Homosexuals. The rest of Rock Club had seen them play just a few days earlier. The band delivers short, blistering post-punk songs followed by long winded rants about past Presidents and the perils of drug use (Just Say No!). I was especially amused by lead singer Bruno Wizard railing on the first President Bush. Reagan I can see. W? Absolutely. But George H. Bush? It just struck me as funny. It's like hating an insignificant NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks. People know they exist but no one really has strong opinions on them one way or another.

After The Homo show it was time for dinner with my friend Carol Bui (conflict of interest alert!). We grabbed some awesome Tex-Mex at Manual's on Congress and then I raced to The Mohawk. I met a friend there for what I thought was Bishop Allen's time slot. Wrong. It was Richard Fucking Swift. A few years back we saw this ass clown at the Black Cat. He sucked then and he sucks now. To be fair, I gave him another shot. I stayed for three songs, decided I still hated his music, and then moved to the inside stage for Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. I alternated stages for while and watched Bishop Allen, Julie Dioron, and Phosphorescent. I wish I had been closer to the stage for Julie Dioron because I love her album, Woke Myself Up. I had to watch from the adjacent room. I'm hoping she'll play Austin again soon when it's not so packed.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with friends at different venues. After seeing Crystal Stilts and a few other bands at the Red Room (no, not the Black Cat bar), we met up with Willis the drummer of The Get Down Stay Down. He suggested a showcase of Portland bands. When he and Thao had recorded their new album in Portland they became friends with many of the bands living there. The Upsidedown played some awesome psychedelic rock. Horse Feathers followed it up with a mellow set that was a calming way to wrap up a crazy day. However, about half-way through I was falling asleep so I called it a night. I still had two days of SXSW and I didn't want to be too tired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SXSW: Day One

I started the first day of SXSW the same way I began the night before: watching Carol Bui, this time at the DC Does Texas party. She delivered another great set. I was especially impressed with her new songs that have a strong middle eastern influence.

Middle Distance Runner was up next. I'm digging their new song, "The Unbeliever". It seems destined to be used in a commercial at some point.

After seeing MDR I left the DC Does Texas party for the Bitch Magazine/Kill Rock Stars party at Club Deville. I arrived in time to catch the end of Horse Feathers. I was in total fanboy mode for Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. I was hoping to hear some of their new stuff but wouldn't have cared if they played "Jazz Odyssey" by Spinal Tap. They started a little sloppy but really came together as the set progressed. They debuted one new song called "Body". Thao had almost a hip-hop delivery with the lyrics which was a new direction for her. The crowd loved the set and Thao's amusing stories about stealing soup from Whole Foods.

I caught only the very end of the Deleted Scenes set at DC Does Texas. So after Thao ended I walked over to see them play at the Tronco/Monstro Party, a party sponsored by the Brazilian government (I think). Two things all true Brazilians love (besides going pube-less): good music and alcohol and there was plenty of both at this party. The Brazilians also loved Deleted Scenes. It was a fun day party and the best set for Deleted Scenes at SXSW.

I ended the day parties by going back to the Kill Rock Stars gathering for The Thermals. Hutch Harris, the lead singer, is one funny dude. He took the stage wearing tiny speedos that had some unfortunate holes in them. This isn't to say he's merely a clown onstage. Their songs deliver a punch - often to the religious right. Their latest single, "Now We Can See" is another winner and has me thinking their upcoming album could be their best yet.

After a full day I took it easy at night. I met up with friends at Ace's Lounge to see Dignan before hitting 6th Street. I met up with other friends and since they didn't have a badge or wristband we needed to find an unofficial showcase. We decided to see The Harlem Shakes...but didn't. Instead of staying upstairs with the bands we grabbed a booth downstairs to rest up and talk. Next thing we know there's a huge line to get back upstairs. No worries. There were plenty of bands to see on Day 2...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Uh huh

The A-Ha music video, Take On Me, remains the best music video ever aired on MTV. That is a fact, not just my opinion. Don't bother looking into it, just trust me.

So in case you missed this pseudo-homage from back in December, I deliver it to you today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW in Review: Tuesday Night

It just ended a few days ago but already SXSW 2009 is a blur. I regret not keeping a running list of every band I saw. Rookie mistake. It was almost as dumb as not buying Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel inserts. I mocked my buddy for wearing them the first night and then apologized the next day when I realized he was much smarter than me.

So, Tuesday night. SXSW officially starts on a Wednesday but that doesn't prevent people from kicking off the celebration a little early. It's also nice for those of us that live in Austin to catch some bands before the throngs arrive.

First stop of the night was the Art Disaster No. 8 party. Carol Bui was on the bill so that was good enough for me. Originally, I planned to stick around for The Laughing (see them at Red & the Black on April 2nd!), Pomegranates, and Belaire. However, after Carol's set I said hello to the band and then made a quick exit.

My buddy John from Side One Track One scored us VIP wristbands to the IFC Crossroads party featuring Gomez and The Decemberists. Considering I've often stated I disliked both bands I was unusually excited for this party. Maybe it was the small venue, my excitement for SXSW in general, or it was just the free beer. Okay, it was the free beer.

Gomez was up first and while they have some decent songs I just can't get into this band. On Twitter I said, "Gomez is the British Bare Naked Ladies. Not impressed." I actually meant to say Guster, not Bare Naked Ladies. The BNL comparison was too harsh.

Colin Meloy, lead singer of The Decemberists and mutton chop enthusiast, took the stage first. He played a little ditty that highlighted his soaring vocals, underrated guitars skills, and his floppy hair. Soon the band joined him onstage and I was quickly backtracking on all the negative things I had said about them over the years. Previously, all I heard was Colin's voice, which is a little annoying. However, seeing them live (and from the front row) I was astounded at how talented they were and how well each song worked. Meloy is an engaging front man and the band looked as if they were having as much fun their fans. Overall, big thumbs up. I'm here to admit: I was wrong about The Decemberists.

Couldn't Make it to SXSW 2009?

Couldn't pony up for a flight to Austin and a week at a nice hotel? Don't worry, most people can't. The economy is in the crapper. Fortunately, you didn't need to attend SXSW to enjoy the music.

If you're relaxing at work try the SXSW 2009 Music Player. Want your SXSW to go? Then download all of this years songs (roughly 1300 DRM-free and RIAA-safe tunes) from three torrents. If you really want a ton of free music you can download the torrents containing tunes from SXSW of years gone by.

Hopefully, all this free music will lower your entertainment expenses and allow you to attend SXSW next year. Trust me: it's totally worth it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The Homosexuals (w Fiasco)
Comet Ping Pong
March 14, 2009

Blast From The Past is an underrated movie. Christopher Walken stars as a brainiac weapons scientist in California in 1962. He builds a kick-ass fallout shelter and one day, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, mistakes a nearby jet fighter crash for a Soviet nuclear attack. He hustles pregnant wife Sissy Spacek into the shelter, which has a 35-year timelock. Fast forward to 1997--shelter door unlocks, and Walken sends now-grown son Brendan Fraser out into the world. Hilarity and Alicia Silverstone romancin' ensue.

Saturday's Homosexuals show at Comet felt like that. The Homosexuals were a bottle rocket of a band that formed in the Spirit of '77 in the UK and by 1984 had succumbed to the Spirit of Kajagoogoo and called it quits. But unlike many other Homosexuals from the 1980s, the band refused to die of AIDS (sorry) as frontman Bruno Wizard reformed the group a few years ago, with some session-type dudes replacing the original bass, guitar and drummer. Sack and I plus our pal Mark arrived at Comet on Saturday knowing nothing about the band, except that they're a Malitz fave, so I was a little surprised to see this old California Raisin guy step up to the microphone after Fiasco (more on them below) finished up. But you know what? I learned a nice lesson this night--old people are not as fucking useless and annoying as I thought, and we should not harvest them in order to make Soylent Green. Wizard and co. were excellent. The man has stage presence and put some intensity into each number. It seemed like he personally made eye contact with everyone as he sang, which was nice. It works for job interviews and it also works for rock shows. The only drawbacks were the banter--not too shabby but when you've heard the best (Pelle Almqvist) you don't have patience for second rate. I could be wrong but I think Wizard denounced Ronald Reagan twice, on separate rants. He never should have fired those air traffic controllers, man.

Standout tracks were "Hearts in Exile," which is a neat little song, and "Neutron Lover." You hear songs like these and think, why didn't this band hit it big back in the day? And then you think, ah yes, the band name. Anyway, here's two vids of the band. First is "Hearts in Exile"--the song doesn't start until 3:11, as Bruno spends the first three minutes explaining geopolitics to the audience (fuck). Second vid is "Neutron Lover"--also excellent, but the banter in this one was recycled at Comet to the same leaden effect.

Some words on Fiasco--this threesome were pretty heavy and played predominantly instrumental-type music along the lines of locals Imperial China. Their drummer was intense and looked like Ginger Baker, which is a fantastic look for a drummer, of course. Potsy has a franchise idea for Presidential Pancakes, where you serve pancakes shaped in the silhouette of former US presidents. We were thinking of something similar with rock stars, but the only thing we could think of was a 13-chocolate-chip-cookie special: "Ginger Baker's Dozen." Stupid.

Another notable Fiasco fact: the lead guitarist would do two-handed hammer-on Eddie Van Halen-type solos, which rule. Alas, there were again too many Primus-type abrupt tempo changes and slap bass noise going on. Is this fucking jazz? No. Snippets of songs would begin to sound cool (i.e., melodic), but it was if they had a radar that would alert them to spazz out into another direction whenever that happened. Still, not a bad band by any means.

Final thoughts: first time to Comet to see a band (been there for pizza before, though). Crowd was a mix of underage Wilson HS types, the same sort you see at Ft Reno in the summer, with old schlubs like us sprinkled throughout. Good crowd but not crowded, you dig me? Sound was good as well, beer was easily accessed....A++++would use again, and definitely one of the stronger shows I've been to lately. Also we played some ping-pong out front. Here's some video of me destroying Sacklunch and then celebrating my win with a sexually-charged victory dance:

PS--Yarrrgggh! Forgot to add one important detail to this review. You know who we saw leaving the venue after The Homos finished up? That's right, Ahmed the Blind Guy. This guy deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Whiskey You're The Devil

It's Tuesday and it's March 17th. So let's celebrate snake-less Ireland and St. Patrick who made it all possible. Skipping over the Chieftains, the Sinbad O'Connors and the U2s of this world, let's have a look back to the glory days of the 1970s and to McRockers, Thin Lizzy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Deleted Scenes

If indie bands were stocks I'd invest my money in Deleted Scenes, Inc. They're young, talented and have the right approach to music. They forge their own path and don't just ape their favorite groups. It seems simple but it takes creativity and hard work. Deleted Scenes got it done though and people are taking notice.

For those of you attending SXSW you have a couple opportunities to see them perform:

Wednesday, 3/18 at 1:20 PM: DC Does Texas (Friends Bar)
Wednesday, 3/18 at 4:30 PM: Tronco/Monstro Party (Beauty Bar)

For those in DC, don't miss their headlining show at the Black Cat mainstage on Saturday, March 28th.

Recently Dan from Deleted Scenes agreed to answer a few questions for us:

DCRC: Previously I insinuated Deleted Scenes partakes in group masturbation. Privately (and now publicly) I've told you that you look like a retard on stage. My first question: Why are you still talking to me? I'm kind of a douchebag.

DS: I'm still talking to you because you bought me a Lone Star tallboy in Austin and won my heart. You also showed your soft side by kindly deciding not to publish the I Am Sam poster as our band photo. Being an ugly lead singer, which observation you nailed with the retarded Sean Penn comparison, may help explain why my self-esteem is so low as to continue talking to you.

Sorry Dan. I owe you at least a six-pack of tallboys now.

DCRC: During your last tour I saw you in both DC and in Austin. I was especially impressed at the Texas show. You played to a crowded room (on a Tuesday night no less) and received a great response. Was the rest of the tour as successful?

DS: Mohawk has always been a good spot for us. One of those great places, like the Slowdown in Omaha or the 5-Spot in Nashville, where people just seem to go. We'd come to anticipate about a 1-to-1 ratio of soul-crushingly empty shows to good ones like the one you saw. But this last tour was actually really inspiring. A lot more weeklies and blogs showed interest, and the shows were about 1-to-3 soul-crushingly empty. So, moving on up, I guess!

DCRC: What's been the response to the new album, Birdseed Shirt?

DS: Really great. Our girlfriends didn't dump us when they heard it, and they're all SERIOUS music snobs, so that was nice. All the DC press pissed themselves over it, to the extent that we're on the "banned" list at City Paper now, apparently. That whole month was like waking up to blowjobs every day. And other cities are slowly catching on. I'm told the Pitchfork review comes out tomorrow, so we'll find out then what the Universal Critical Opinion is.

Note: Since this interview the Pitchfork review was published and it was quite favorable. They gave Birdseed Shirt and 8.0 out of 10, the highest rating any band from DC has received from Pitchfork in years. I emailed Dan a quick follow up question:

DCRC: What was your reaction to the 8.0 Birdseed Shirt received from Pitchfork?

DS: This slays.

DCRC: What are your plans while in Austin, besides the festival, of course? I'd recommend a dip in Barton Springs (I go naked), breakfast at Magnolia's (also naked), Mexican Margarita's from the Cedar Door (Cowboy hat but no pants), and enough Lone Star beers to kill an armadillo. That's how I spend most weekends. You should give it a try.

DS: Is this a question? Oh, yeah, what are we going to do in Austin... Try not to spend any money, really. I've been couch surfing since we got off tour in February. Otherwise, go to free shows, try to get penitent journalists to buy me Lone Stars, catch up with some friends who will be down there, and give out 1000 cds. Jeez, that's not a fun answer at all! Take me to all these naked places!

DCRC: You have a headlining show at the Black Cat's mainstage on Saturday, March 28th. That's a goal that almost all DC indie rock bands aspire to but few realize. Was that a goal of yours? Any other goals you've set for the band?

DS: I'm not sure how much of an accomplishment it is. It's very scary. I've seen a lot of bands that fail to draw there, and it's one of the saddest things. That huge checkered floor just gapes at you when the place is empty. I hope people show up! We're pretty psyched about it though. We're releasing a cassingle at that show that is dubbed over old cassette singles I bought from Ebay. So people will be able to hear us with Gloria Estefan or Tag Team faintly audible in the background, which is really the way we've always intended our music be heard. Other goals? We want to stop working and be on tour for an indefinite number of months...maybe like 9 or something. And keep writing weirder and prettier songs.

DCRC: What are you plans for 2009? Another tour?

DS: Yes, we're playing on the west coast for the first time in June and July. This Brazilian promoter whose day party we're playing also wants to get us down to Brazil, which will be AWESOME. Ideally, I'd just like to stop booking our own tours. As romantic as DIY is, it's so time consuming.

DCRC: Finally, there's an ongoing debate within Rock Club on which band is better: Steely Dan or Boston. What's your opinion?

DS: Hm... I can't say I've got the critical distance to answer this question, since Boston's my favorite city, and Steely Dan is my favorite vibrator.

Many thanks to Dan for answering my questions. If you haven't heard the new album read the Pitchfork review. Embedded on the page is a player where you can listen to the album from start to finish. Give it a try - you won't regret it.

Let's end this with a video of Deleted Scenes performing "Ithaca":


Sunday, March 15, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Middle Distance Runner

In August of 2006 we saw Middle Distance Runner (henceforth known as MDR) headline a show at the Velvet Lounge. It was only the 7th show Rock Club had reviewed. We've since reviewed over 150 shows and looking back we didn't give them enough credit. All the mediocre indie rock bands we've seen have made me appreciate MDR a lot more.

Considering how much I listen to their first album it's surprising I never made it to another one of their shows. I plan to remedy that at SXSW. MDR (along with These United States) are playing the two parties I'm sure to attend: DC Does Texas and A Blog and A Band. Here are the details:

Wednesday, 3/18 at 2:50 PM: DC Does Texas (Friends Bar)
Saturday, 3/21 at 3:30 PM: A Blog and A Band (Club Primos)

If you're unfamiliar with MDR here are my five favorite songs off of their first album:

I should probably note that MDR's appearance at SXSW coincides with the release of their new 7" "The Unbeliever". Here's the video for the new song:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Show Preview plus Notes From All Over

Tonight we're heading to Comet to see The Homosexuals. Their name reminds me of what Wayne Campbell said when he heard the Shitty Beatles were playing:

Wayne: Are they any good?
Tiny: They suck!
Wayne: Then it's not just a clever name.

Here are some odds and ends that might amuse you:

  • The Chimp Offensive Continues: once again we're ahead of the curve, as we've warned you people repeatedly about the chimp menace. But will the world listen? Now comes news that chimps have the ability to plan attacks and stockpile weapons. To me, it's 1926 all over again. Hitler writes Mein Kampf and lays out his evil plan for the world. Nobody cares. Will it happen again? Not on our watch. The chimps will slip on a banana skin named DC Rock Club.
  • Led Zeppelin in Wheaton: This was an awesome article in the Post. Apparently Led Zeppelin played a roller rink in Wheaton in 1968 right after they had just formed and no one knew who they were. The show was literally legendary, in that people treated it as a legend, along the lines of leprechauns, fairies and sprites. And mayqueens. And yet...it did indeed happen. This reminds me of when Sacklunch and I worked construction for his dad one summer. The foreman's name was George and we divined that a good work-shirking strategy was to get him to regale us with tales from his youth. He was a good guy who cursed a lot, in sentences that really didn't require cursing ("Get me a motherfucking coffee latte, with extra fucking cream"). He was local and said he saw Moby Grape at the same roller rink. Sorry, Moby fucking Grape.
  • Estrogen and Tonic, Vol. 5 -- Now That's What I Call Estrogen! released: I've made another chick music mix for my wife and am quite pleased with it. Here are some highlights:
"You Can't Do That To Me," The Ettes. Love this one. Good guitar.

"Light of Love," Music Go Music. Forget where I heard this but they sound like Abba.

"Paris Is Burning," Ladyhawke. Some disco type stuff.

"London," Noonday Underground. Never get tired of this one.

"Hong Kong Garden," Siouxsie and the Banshees. Some post-punk to throw a wrench in your shit.

"Cincinnati," The Distillers. Probably way too rock for my wife but I like it. Got to ease them into it. Sadly, I couldn't find an audio clip to embed, but here's a YouTube vid of a 12-year-old kid named Brian drumming along to it. You can hear the song for like, the first 10 seconds, until Brian's drumming kicks in:

Anyway, if you want a copy, send a self-addressed envelope to me and I'll send you a CD. I will only accept topless pictures from women if they're artistic and tasteful, and even if they're not, once you send them to me they're my property and I won't return them to you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

DC Does Texas Details - FINALLY

Today I emailed the rest of Rock Club an open letter I'd written to the organizers of DC Does Texas. I criticized the party planners for not promoting the show and failing to even release the set list or announce which bands were playing. I mean, they haven't even updated their web site. My letter was very sarcastic and kind of dickish. Before I started an online bitch fight I wanted the go ahead from the rest of the guys. The unanimous response: post that shit.

Well, before I could post the letter, the poster and set list were sent to me! Finally! Here are the bands playing DC Does Texas on Wednesday, March 18th at Friends Bar from 12:30 to 5:00:

12:30 Laura Burhenn
1:20 Deleted Scenes
2:00 Carol Bui
2:50 Middle Distance Runner
3:40 U.S. Royalty
4:30 These United States

That's a great line-up! I give the organizers credit for putting together such a solid bill. However, I have to call them out on a few things.

I work on 6th Street in downtown Austin. That's ground zero for SXSW. Everyday I talk with different people about what parties and showcases they're looking forward to the most. Unfortunately, no one is mentioning DC Does Texas. Perhaps the best site for SXSW planning, do512, lists over FIVE HUNDRED parties and showcases. The DC Does Texas party isn't even one of them. Let's hope that doesn't mean a poor turnout because the bands who schlep their asses all the way to Texas deserve better.

SXSW Spotlight: Carol Bui

Leading up to SXSW, we're highlighting some bands and even doing some interviews, something we rarely do for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we're lazy. Second, tend to insult the bands who graciously agree to answer our questions. Once again, our apologies to Jukebox the Ghost for saying you play "dork-assed music for dorks" and to the 1990s for suggesting all Scots were cheap bastards. We'll try to do better next time.

[photo by shervin lainez]

The first band in the SXSW spotlight: Carol Bui! Carol and the guys kick things off at the premier pre-SXSW party: The Art Disaster no. 8 party Tuesday night at the Beauty Bar. On Wednesday she'll play Stomp & Stammer’s First Annual Last Party Ever followed by the DC Does TX Party at Friends Bar. Now, onto the interview:

DCRC: Was last year the first time you've played SXSW? What was that experience like?

CB: I actually didn't play last year. I was supposed to do the DC Does TX show as part of a tour, but the tour fell through and I ended up not making it to Austin after all. I've played shows in that town before, just not at SXSW, though I have hung out at the festival before.

DCRC: With all the craziness and jockeying for attention, is SXSW something musicians actually enjoy? Is it all business or can you take time to be a music fan?

CB: I haven't played SXSW yet, but when I was there to hang out in '07, it felt like mardi gras - with all the people (a naked cowboy here and there), music, and alcohol. I personally enjoyed it but I was there as just a music fan. We'll see how next week goes!

DCRC: The latest song you posted, "Mira You're Free With Me", is a bit of a departure from the songs off of Everyone Wore White. How did it come about?

CB: I started playing drums a little over a year ago and as a result, started thinking more rhythmically. I think Mira was a song that was built around a drum beat, a beat that I kind of stole from some Arabic music I'd been listening to. I took the traditional beat, played it on a full drum kit instead of tablas, and made it swing a little.

DCRC: What have you been up to lately? Are you working on a new album?

CB: I am indeed working on a new album! I've spent a lot of this past year writing and playing drums, which has changed the way I think about songwriting quite a bit. I've done a lot of learning and growing up too, musically and personally. My close friend Mary and I started a new band called Lucia, Lucia where our friend Jason and I back her up as the rhythm section. It was a way for us to get more comfortable with our new instruments - vox and guitar for her and drums for me. I've also been really into my belly dance classes, and that certainly affects my writing.

DCRC: What bands or musicians are on heavy rotation at your place? Have any of them influenced your music?

CB: Natacha Atlas and yes, she is a huge influence right now. She puts traditional Arabic elements with western pop together, so the music is both exotic and addictive. I've also explored her influences, some of the most popular singers in the arab world like Fairuz and Oum Kalthoum. The belly dance training puts everything into perspective. That's why my new material is so rhythm and percussion-heavy, and because of Natacha I'm no longer too self conscious to let my vocals be more emotive and expressive. It feels great.

DCRC: Talk about your band. Who are the guys and how long have you been playing together?

CB: I play with many different talented people. Next week, Mark Raymond and Aaron Leitko will be playing the Austin shows with me. Mark and I have been playing together since '06, and Aaron has played 1 show with us so far. Mark is a fantastic drummer - he's got this great loose style that is loud and jazzy at the same time, very don caballero but I dunno...catchier? and more bad ass? Aaron has played in a few bands around here, his latest is S PRCSS with Justin Moyer and some dudes out in Philly. His bass playing is as bad ass as Mark's drumming - I think he was a jazz band kid turned punk rock in college. Something like that.

DCRC: I read that you quit your day job, started playing the drums, and did some traveling. My question: Can I be you? Because all that sounds quite nice.

CB: It could happen with a little surgery and penny pinching, and maybe if you give away a little bit of your soul. Sure, anything can happen. And yes, it is quite nice.

Thanks to Carol for answering our questions and acknowledging my transgender dreams. Now enjoy a sampling of some of my favorite Bui tunes:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SXSW Day Party: A Blog and a Band

One of the SXSW parties I'm most excited about: A Blog and A Band day party. It's a two day party sponsored by our friends at Side One: Track One and the Austin band La Snacks. They're featuring 21 bands from all over the world. A bunch of Austin bands I really like (La Snacks, The Lovely Sparrows, Ume) are playing with two of DC's best: These United States and Middle Distance Runner.

Over the next week, I'll profile some of the bands I'll see at SXSW. There's no better band to start off with than La Snacks (pictured above). They have a raw, fuzzy, slacker sound that recalls the best indie rock of the '90s. Couple that sound with highly amusing lyrics and a great live show and you have a winning formula. Here's my favorite song by La Snacks, "Kristen Was A Meteorologist":

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When I look around, baby you just can't be found

So I wanted to post the video for the Flaming Lips cover of Madonna's Borderline, which I heard today courtesy of WOXY. Trouble is, the video is not on YouTube. It's only on Amazon.com, so it totally messed with my plans. If you want to see the aforementioned video, click. It's kinda cool, and I would enjoy it if more bands covered Madonna songs.

So instead of showing you something new, I show you something old, and quite honestly, ripped off from Fark.

Monkee turns 64 this week, DCRC celebrates with video of "Alternate Title."

aka: Randy Scouse Git

I think this is a pretty good tune. It's only the video that lessens it. Monkees, in this case, are better heard than seen.

Note from Jumbo Slice: I used my super-dork powers to load the video:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Another Beard Band

Dead Confederate - March 4, 2009 @ Black Cat - $12

I had heard a few tracks of Dead Confederate thanks to the good people at WOXY, liked them, and was intrigued to see them on the bill for a show at the Black Cat this past Wednesday. My gut said, forget it, you've got too many other things to do this week and no one else is interested. But my gut often says things like, "order the cheese fries." My gut's not that smart, you see. So I decided to make the $12 investment to see Dead Confederate in person.

Here's a taste.

They sounded like they were underwater. That's what I left thinking. And left I did. I made it through 90% of their set, but just couldn't get into it and couldn't stay that late for headliners, The Whigs. The Dead Confederate fellas were a bit too jam oriented for me. And they seemed stuck doing the same thing, tune after tune. Step one, engage the audience, mumble through the opening first 30 seconds of your song. Step two, turn your back to the crowd and rock frantically for three quarters of the song all to yourselves. Step three, recall that there is an audience behind you, turn, and mutter more words into microphone and fin... wait, what. Back to Step 2 again. Forget it.

Next time my gut says "cheese fries," I order cheese fries.

Friday, March 06, 2009

March Madness

For some March is all about the NCCA Tournament. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement. Take my buddy Mark for example. This is an actual voice mail he left my brother Mike a few years back:

Unfortunately, Mark's heart exploded with two minutes left in the game. He is missed.

I'm not here to discuss basketball though. I want to talk about another form of March Madness: Steve from Baby You Got A Stew Goin' is attempting to see 100 bands in one month. He laid out the ground rules and started on his quest. SXSW will help but to get to 100 he'll have to attend a concert almost every night and get there in time to see all the bands on the bill. No easy feat. We barely manage one outing every 10 days so a show almost every night is tough to fathom.

Rock Club wishes Steve the very best on the 100 Band Challenge. Being the opportunistic bastards we are, we'd also like to make a little cash off of this. We're now taking bets on the final tally of bands. The over/under currently sits at 91. Get your bets in early before the line moves!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

SXSW 2009 : The Basics

SXSW is almost here. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing on the parties I'm attending and the bands I'm most looking forward to seeing. However, let's start with some background on the festival. SXSW is a gathering of people from the Film, Interactive, and Music industries. We're only concerned with the music so let's focus on that. This will be my first SXSW and the following is what I've gathered from friends (let me know if I get something wrong):

First, it's massive. Over 2,000 bands descend on the city to play as many gigs as they can book. Bands play everywhere - bars, grocery stores, clothing shops, warehouses, taco stands, random backyards, street corners, etc. You can't escape them.

The festival runs from Wednesday, March 18th through Sunday, March 22nd. The day parties are from 11 AM - 6 PM, evening showcases from 8 PM - 2 AM, and the overnight parties that last until 5 AM. It's almost 24 hours of music and drinking for 5 days. A recipe for disaster if you don't pace yourself.

How much does all this costs? There are three options:

A. Buy a badge for $650 and get priority access to all the official showcases.

B. Buy a wristband for $165 and get access to the official showcases but you'll have to wait in line for the more popular shows (if you get in at all).

C. Pay nothing and just attend the countless free parties and unofficial showcases.

I opted, as I usually do, for Plan B. Considering I'll go to a lot of the free day parties and fewer of the evening showcases, it didn't make sense for me to shell out the big bucks. Plus, they were selling wristbands to Austin residents for only $129. That's a no-brainer.

A while back I listed some of the DC bands I hoped would make it to SXSW. Of those on my list, only These United States is playing. However, that doesn't mean DC won't be well represented. Others performing include Carol Bui, Middle Distance Runner, Deleted Scenes, and The Hall Monitors (if I missed some please let me know in the comments). I'm told that there will be another DC Does TX showcase but I'm still waiting to hear the official band list.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pussyfooting Around with Fujiya & Miyagi

[Photos By: Mary Rehak]

Fujiya & Miyagi
Friday, February 27th
Emo's, Austin, TX

Fujiya & Miyagi plays with confidence. They have insanely catchy tunes and they know it. You're going to dance to them and you're going to like it. They didn't waste time chatting with the crowd, trying to be humorous, or talking about how happy they were to be in Austin. In fact, outside of a few thank yous they didn't say a word. They didn't need to.

They kicked off the night with "Sore Thumb" from their new album, Lightbulbs. The tune has a nice build up and a funky groove. They followed that with "Ankle Injuries" which repeats their band name over and over. The simplistic, whispered, and perfectly enunciated lyrics acted like a fifth instrument. They were like riffs set on a loop, repeating over and over. The strong start got the full attention of the crowd. From there the band worked their hypnotic magic. Even songs that are a bit flat on the new record, specifically "Uh", had a real punch in concert. "Pickpocket" was another one that benefited from the live setting. It included a finger snapping solo. We've seen a lot of things here at Rock Club but that was a first.

While I enjoyed "Pussyfooting", their most radio friendly tune from Lightbulbs, the highlight was a sped up version of "Knickerbocker". [Side Note: I can't believe they're talking about "Knickerbocker glory". Have they seen the Knicks lately? Fujiya & Miyagi don't know jack about the NBA.] The song got progressively faster and faster. The goofy lyrics and pace of the song reminded me of that chicken dance that's always done at Oktoberfests. Sure, it's ridiculous to dance like that in public but it's also a lot of fun. Considering Fujiya & Miyagi's love of Krautrock and Kraftwerk, they'd do well playing German beer fests.

They closed the night with a song I couldn't place but it had a mix of melody and dissonance that was quite impressive. They kept the crowd dancing while half the band ripped it up. Well done. I couldn't have asked for a much better performance. It was fun yet professional, bouncy, and left the customer satisfied and wanting more. Basically, Fujiya & Miyagi are the musical equivalent of a high class call girl.

Openers Project Jenny, Project Jan consist of Jeremy Haines (singer/rapper/entertainer who reminded me of Joel McHale from The Soup) and Sammy Rubin who mans the keyboards and samples. Together they incorporate a myriad of genres into their music. They mix in everything from hip-hop to reggae to Bollywood dance grooves. A veritable kitchen sink of beats and rhythms.

I had high expectations for PJPJ. I expected them to whip the crowd into a dancing frenzy. Unfortunately, there was more dancing onstage than there was on the floor. The guys are fun loving and likable but they were a little "jokey". I wasn't sure if they were they were being serious, satirical (like The Lonely Island), or a little of both. However, I have to give them credit for finishing the night on a high note. They joined Fujiya & Miyagi's encore to perform their excellent song, "Pins And Needles":

Project Jenny, Project Jan: Pins And Needles (Featuring Fujiya & Miyagi)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

'Stache for Cash

Before: Beardy Face

After: Baby Face

Eric Axelson is known for playing bass in such bands as The Dismemberment Plan, Maritime, and most recently, Statehood. He's also known for his gloriously grizzly Nordic beard. Well, Eric shaved it off and for one month is going straight 'Stache. It's all part of the Capitol Letters Moustache-a-thon 2009, a charity event to raise money for the Capital Letters Writing Center. The center supports student writers through workshops and tutoring. As someone who struggles with even the basic rules of grammar, I fully support the Writing Center. Everyone should know how to properly use words such as "affect", "whom", and "pants".

You can follow the growth of Eric's mustache at his blog, Camp Teacherman. Better yet you can pledge your support at http://www.capitolletters.org/moustacheathon. Scroll down to Eric A and hit that donate button. The first moustache progress check-in is 7 p.m. tonight at Asylum (2471 18th St NW). Stop by for a drink and laugh and all the stubbly lip hair.

Mr. Three Opalous

Hooray for Tuesday. If only it were Threesday.

It's the third day of the third month of the year. There are 303 days left of 2009. Lots of 3s... and check this out, it's Square Root Day. So if you're at work reading this, pack up you things, and tell your boss to get bent. You get the day off. The next SRD isn't until 4/4/2016.

Musically relevant topic: This past Saturday night, the Black Cat featured local rocker Benjy Ferree and celebrated the release of his latest work, Come Back to the Five and Dime Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee. That's really the title. I didn't stutter. I've enjoyed a few Benjy tracks over the past couple years, and it's always nice to see a local act ascend a bit. I think I speak for all of DCRC, when I say, good luck Mr. Ferree. He put on a solid show, and his music, while mostly unfamiliar to me, resonated nonetheless. Emma Peel tells me his new album is great. I believe her.

But that's all prelude to today's YouTubesday clip which comes from Benjy's opening act on Saturday, Tim Fite. Mr. Fite performed to a throng of x-handed youngsters who were definitely there to specifically see his unusual brand of rock. Performing to pre-recorded music, in front of a video screen, Tim Fite mixed art forms masterfully, and had me mesmerized. Have a look at this:

Not my video, but this is pretty similar to what he brought to the club. If you want to see more of the type of multimedia art that he weaves into his performance, check this out.

*"Mr. Three Opalous" is sacklunch-speak for Dr. Theopolis.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Free Willie

[photo credit: Sounds Like Austin]

It's not everyday you see a living legend perform. For free. In front of about 200 people. On Thursday I was 4 feet from the stage when Willie Nelson played a free show at Waterloo Records in Austin. Willie was there along with Asleep At The Wheel to promote their new album, Willie and the Wheel, a collection of classic Western Swing songs. The in-store was promoted as an Asleep At The Wheel only performance. I would've skipped the event but I was tipped off that Willie would also be there. They kept it hush-hush so there wasn't a massive crowd. They didn't want to deal with denying hoards of people from entering (you know, Fire Marshall rules and all that).

I got in line at 4:40 and at 5:00 the doors opened. I easily made my way close to the stage as they finished the sound check. I was unsure if Willie would actually be there, until I saw his ratty old guitar - pardon me, Trigger - up on stage. After a few songs by Asleep At The Wheel, Willie descended from the tour bus and entered the store. He was sporting a cowboy hat over long braided hair, black jeans and some comfy New Balance sneakers. He was also wearing a "Willie & The Wheel" shirt with their motto, A Joint Production, on the back. A "Joint" Production - get it? Har-har. That Willie is such a kidder. And by kidder I mean total pothead.

When Willie appeared, a lot of people were caught off guard. I guess the word hadn't spread about the "surprise" appearance. Willie hopped onstage and they launched into a number of tunes off of Willie and The Wheel. In fact, they played almost the entire album. Unlike most in-stores where the band plays four songs and is out the door, Willie and the band kept going. They even covered some of Willie's classics, including "Poncho and Lefty" (originally sung by Townes Van Zandt). During the show, Willie messed up a bunch of lyrics (weed is a hell of a drug) and had some sound issues. It didn't matter one bit though. Each song was great and the fans couldn't have been happier (myself included). Asleep at the Wheel is a sick band. They're all killer musicians. Even if it was just Asleep at the Wheel it would've been a great show (but I'm glad Willie was there).

[photo credit: Sounds Like Austin]

I must admit - this was my first Country show. I grew up in Upstate NY (yes, I'm a Yankee) and listening to Country music was unheard of. Even the band dorks made fun of kids that liked Country. Through the years I came to appreciate certain genres within Country music, namely Outlaw Country (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr.) and more recently Texas Country (Townes Van Zandt, Doug Sahm, not the Dixie Chicks). Willie fits into both of those categories. The Man in Black is great but Willie Nelson has always been my favorite. Who doesn't love the guy? He's like Ferris Bueller. The sportos and motor heads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads...they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude. He proved it too by playing for over an hour and then spending another hour talking with his fans. He signed CDs, albums, boobs, and posters for almost every person at Waterloo Records (both those inside and those waiting outside). He took his time as he chatted and posed for picture after picture. I always respected the guy, but after seeing him on Thursday I have nothing but total admiration for the guy.

I've been to hundreds and hundreds of shows and without a doubt this ranks as one of my favorites. As everyone was having a great time, cheering loudly after each song, I kept thinking, "This is fucking awesome." As far as Country shows go, I don't know if you can top that performance. Maybe I should go out on a high note, like Constanza. Or maybe this is the first of many Country shows to come. Who knows, maybe I'll ditch DC Rock Club and start Austin Country Club.