Actually, this isn't new at all, and that's why we're showing it to you. 'Cause let's be honest, the new music from The Ataris sucks. And that's why this video of Kris Roe playing the old favorite "In this Diary" is so great.
From Thursday, March 18 to Sunday, March 21, I was in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Music Festival.
I’m writing this now from the Austin airport, hoping to retain everything I learned from my experiences this weekend, and most importantly, to not lose the hope and inspiration I gained from the hundreds of artists, fans, and music industry professionals I met while here.
Austin, Texas is an amazing, diverse city. I had never been here before and I found myself enamored with the city’s unique life and culture that it so vehemently exudes. I fell in love with certain streets, certain venues, certain foods…I so often felt completely overwhelmed with emotion for music and the people around me, simply because we were all experiencing the same thing together. This, I believe, is what music is truly about.
The South by Southwest Music Festival showcases hundreds of bands in 89 “official” venues throughout Austin’s downtown area (there are unofficial venues and shows as well). The festival is one of the biggest of its kind, drawing thousands of people to the southern city from all over the world.
SXSW from Jennifer Brown on Vimeo.
I came to cover the festival as a music journalist, hoping to experience something unique. The last few days have exceeded any expectations I had prior to coming.
Thursday afternoon I arrived in Austin and was picked up by my brother’s friend. We dropped my stuff off at his house on West 49th Street and took a taxi south, toward the center of downtown. I picked up my press badge from the convention center where I met a guy from the Canadian North by Northeast festival. Together, we went to the Paradise restaurant on 6th street and had some free food at a Montreal music showcase. I then went to Emo’s on Red River Street for the So Many Dynamos show with my friend from MIT who was also in Austin for the festival. So Many Dynamos’ performance was energized and awesome…the guys always perform so well live, and it was really nice to see them again (I had seen them a couple times in Boston).
I then trekked over to the Palm Door, owned by the folks at Austin's Beauty Bar, for The Rolling Stone Showcase, featuring Low Anthem. Low Anthem’s set was engaging and a lot more subdued—a pleasantry after being surrounded by the hundreds of intoxicated music lovers on the street. The Low Anthem guys were gracious and I spoke with them a little after the show about their experience at SX.
Afterwards, I was hoping to catch Wye Oak, but got sidetracked talking to some booking agents, and instead headed to the Sub Pop showcase at the Galaxy on the 6th Street. I saw The Dutchess and the Duke, and then Dum Dum Girls, before running off to Club De Ville for Man...or Astroman? (if you like indie music, and you don’t know these guys, you should look them up). Man or Astroman? became big in the '90s and then broke up in 2002. They had just gotten back together a couple weeks before the festival…in short, the band’s uninhibited and spontaneous on-stage performance was a mix of outer-space hysteria and surf-guitar, fast-paced dance music. It was great.
I then went back to Emo’s to meet my friend and watch the Maps and Atlases set. I’d never seen Barsuk's M&A live and the band was solid. The lead vocals added to their catchy guitar riffing; the 18+ crowd (some kids has X’s on their hands) were so into the performance, and they really brought a fun mood to the set.
My friend and I then spent the rest of the night eating pizza and searching for an available cab—something of an impossibility at SX. While searching, I ran into music industry people I hadn’t seen for a long time, from different parts of the United States. Such a thing can only happen at festivals like SX. I eventually found a cab and paid the driver close to $20 to cart me back north.
The following nights were just as hectic and wonderful as the first. I saw a variety of musicians every night including, Man Man, Frightened Rabbit, Dr. Dog, Andrew W.K., No Age, French Miami, The Watson Twins, Billy Bragg, Memory Tapes, Jeremy Messersmith, and Daedelus. My favorite show went to either Dr. Dog or Daedelus and my least favorite show went to the band Yacht.
The following page includes some highlights from festival.
- White Crosses - A song that addresses the debate surrounding abortion. The white crosses the song references are supposed to represent all of the fetuses that are aborted daily in the U.S. Gabel passionately sings that he wants to smash them all. Guess which side he's on?
- I Was A Teenage Anarchist - Scheduled to be the first single, this song is very catchy and deals with Gabel's earlier anarchism and subsequent dissociation from that type of politics.
- Because Of The Shame - Against Me! put on their Bruce Springsteen costumes, play a little piano and also sneak in a little bit of Green Day influence (although they might not like to admit it). This is a killer track that deals with the loss of a close friend.
- Suffocation - This one opens with an 80s style guitar intro before moving into a more standard Against Me! guitar line. Overall, one of the weaker tracks, but even at their worst, this band is still better than most.
- We're Breaking Up - Buoyed by tasteful piano arpeggios and a muted guitar riff during the verse, this song explodes into a triumphant chorus. An excellent ode to the end of a relationship, perhaps addressing the band's near break-up in the time between their last record and this one. A time during which long-time drummer Warren Oakes left and was replaced by former Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo.
- High Pressure Low - The intro to this song could be right out of a John Hughes movie. Another catchy track that showcases how well this band constructs bouncy, melodic punk songs with hook-laden choruses.
- Ache With Me - If the last song showcases the band's ability to make punk catchy, this one proves that they can also write slower, more contemplative songs that win you over on the strength of the lyrics and their delivery over an acoustic rhythm and simple drum beat. Spoiler alert: this one's a bit of a downer. The moshers might not know what to do when this song is played live...
- Spanish Moss - The intro is a definite nod to The Who, followed by some beefy power chords and excellent drumming from Rebelo. This is an idealized song about getting away from it all without owing anyone an apology.
- Rapid Decompression - An incredible burst of sheer energy. This song is one minute and forty-three seconds of punk injected directly into the bloodstream. The best punk song on the album.
- Bamboo Bones - Against Me! knows how to end an album. Write a song with lyrics about God, throw in some passionate guitars, bass, and drums, then give it 135%. And that's exactly what they do.
Maturity might not have been on display on Jenny Owen Youngs’ Spring Break Forever Tour, which stopped in Allston at the Great Scott last Wednesday, but for the 28-year-old singer/songwriter who has progressed from covering pop songs to recording her second full-length album, maturity is embodied in her composure, her skillfully crafted songs, and her years of experience on the road.
“I’ve been doing a lot of designated driving on this tour,” Youngs said about the Spring Break Forever Tour before jumping on stage last Wednesday. Sharing the stage and time in the car were close friends Allison Weiss and Bess Rogers, who each played their own sets and then joined Youngs at the end of her headlining performance. With the three girls cracking jokes about body shots, hook-ups, and ideas for tattoos influenced by excessive alcohol, it was clear that they were “totally having a blast,” as Youngs said.
While the mood was light and the jokes were fresh, Youngs and her friends and bandmates took the opportunity to demonstrate their careful songwriting and experienced performing, featuring songs from her most recent full-length, Transmitter Failure. “It’s all about how the ‘I’ of the song interacts, communicates, and relates with another party,” Youngs said about her sophomore album. “I feel like as I mature my relationships become something I approach more and more from trying to understand everyone’s perspective and not just mine. It’s part of growing up,” she said.
Youngs has mastered the ability to account for the other person and it shows in the way she connected with the audience at the Great Scott.
“I strive to make songs that can mean something to me but can also mean something to other people,” she said.
She allowed herself to be accessible to the crowd by telling personal vignettes and letting everyone laugh along while Weiss and Rogers came on-stage to finish up the show with the catchy and hilarious theme song for the Spring Break Forever Tour.
Youngs has played the Boston area at least a dozen times and has toured the Northeast with Regina Spektor who she met at SUNY Purchase while getting her degree in Music Composition. Her music has been featured on Showtimes’ Weeds, Perezhilton.com and Daytrotter.com, among many other places. She will play at Austin, Texas’ South By Southwest music festival this week.
Her full interview will air on the Fleshy Fresh on Thursday, April 1 at 6 p.m. EST on www.wtburadio.org.
In case you're wondering what I'm doing tonight....
Great Scott, Doors at 9 p.m.
For this week's New Tunes Tuesday we bring you the Lonesome Mississippi Drifters. Go check out their version of "My Humps" that they played live on our show last week by clicking here.
The Lonesome Mississippi Drifters will be on the show tonight for live in-studio performance. You know them from their infectious cover of "Get Low" and their amazing performances at the WTBU Awards (scroll down for videos).
Also, tonight we are featuring new music from Kevin Devine, Jarrod Gorbel, and Ok Go.
Here's your concert update as we go into spring break. See you on the other side.
BU QUAD Magazine Haus Party
Christopher from C&G
Cage the Elephant
w. As Tall as Lions
@ Paradise Rock Club
w. Silversun Pickups
@ TD Banknorth
Copeland (farewell tour)
w. Ace Enders
I can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business
@ Middle East Downstairs
@ Paradise Rock
Jenny Owen Youngs
@ Great Scott
@ Harpers Ferry
@ House of Blues
(first concert in a series up to St. Patrick’s day).
Bowling for Soup
@ Middle East Downstairs
This week we bring you new music from Kevin Devine, an incredibly talented wordsmith out of Brooklyn, NY. Check out a video of his live performance of his new song "You Wouldn't Have to Ask" courtesy of GetAddicted.org.