Tag Archives: Texas

Psyched out before Psych Fest – Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, Jaggery put on awesome show at the Swan Dive

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I am about to start the last day of Austin Psych Fest 2013 and I have a lot to say about that, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the show I saw on April 20 at the Swan Dive by Boston bands Jaggery and Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys — one of the most psychedelic shows I’ve seen in a long time.

It was an amazing show. My only regret is that there were not more people there to see it.

I enjoyed the hell out of both bands, but the highlight for me was Walter Sickert. He was wearing a kind of feather head dress, big sunglasses, dreadlocks, and a wedding dress. Kind of like a demented Dr. John. He joked several times about being on acid.  As the night wore on, I came to the conclusion that it was somewhere between plausible and likely that he really WAS on acid. “Stop fucking with me. I’m on a lot of acid! My home town is blowing up while we’re on the road. Fucking terrorists! But it happens…”

Most surprising thing was how good the music was. Stylistically, it was mostly acoustic, reminding me a bit of the Asylum Street Spankers. It featured a drummer, melodian/accordion, bass violin and viola (played by the musician from Jaggery). There were dark cabaret influences, but at times, they rocked as hard as Jimi Hendrix. At one point the singer from Jaggery joined Walter in a song that included an excerpt from the song, “Love and Marriage.”

One song really got hold of me and brought chills — and end of the world song called “28 Seeds.” Here it is:


It was even better live.

“Devil’s in the Details was another great one”:


One of my friends exclaimed, “I’m in their fan club after that.” I felt the same way. I will definitely be purchasing some of their music online. I got a big kick of of their closing song — the Ghostbusters theme. “I went back in time to the ’80s to write this song,” Walter said. There were a few lyrics I didn’t remember from the movie. “If a ghost tries to fuck you in the eye, who ya gonna call?”

Very unique group. Visit their website and Bandcamp page. Buy some of their music and see them if you ever get a chance.

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Jaggery (appropriately named after Indian brown sugar) features Mali, a wonderful singer and pianist with incredible power and range (she kind of reminds me of a less scary Diamanda Galas), harp, viola and string bass.

Their music was powerful and dramatic. reminiscent of acts like Rasputina and the Dresden Dolls.

Some of it is incredibly beautiful.

One song which seemed to be about witchcraft, got kind of screamy (hence the nod to Galas), but it I found it really moving and chill-inducing. Mali joked that it probably scared the country bumpkins in Victoria when they gave a free show earlier. She took back the part about bumpkins, but she was probably right. I grew up in that area and kinda was a bumpkin at one time. It’s good for folks around there to experience something strange and different once in a while.

Check out Jaggery’s website and Bandcamp page. Buy some of their tunes if you feel so inclined and definitely catch them live if you can.

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The Sword makes ‘melt your face off’ metal

My relationship with heavy metal has been spotty over the years. I grew up on the stuff they started to call metal later on – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC and the like. Once the hair bands of the ’80s turned up I started to lose interest, getting more into grunge, postpunk and indie rock. And death metal with the cookie monster vocals has always turned me right off. But certain metal bands can still, as a friend of mine put it, melt my face off – in a good way. One of those is an Austin, Texas-based band called The Sword.

I discovered them at Fun Fun Fun Fest back in November. I saw several good bands – it was a frustrating night as several bands I really wanted to see were playing at the same time. Got to check out Peelander Z and Disappears again. Both of those rocked as expected. And I got to see Public Image Limited. That’s the legendary act that convinced me to go in the first place. Johnny Lydon (known to many as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) is overweight, but still kicks ass. My concert buddy Chris Kinney thought they sounded dated, but I still got into it. Maybe I’m dated.

But just as he promised, the top band of the night turned out to be The Sword. They had a ton of energy and reminded me of a somewhat sped-up  Black Sabbath. I wouldn’t know it because I don’t play D n D, but I was told a lot of their lyrics are based on Dungeons and Dragons scenarios. Per Wikipedia, they also get a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology and science fiction writers like George R.R. Martin. Whatever the source, they come across as bad ass. Lots of science fictiony, Frank Frazetta-looking videos to be seen on Youtube.

Is this badass or what?

And check out this cover of ZZ Top’s Cheap Sunglasses. Wish I’d been there to see this.

The band’s official website is SwordOfDoom.com. And check them out on Facebook.

Edit: I was just informed that the band actually has its own hot sauce that can melt your tongue off while their music melts your face off. Tears of Fire, was made to the band’s specifications by Tears of Joy hot sauces “banned in most galaxies” it is apparently incredibly hot. I’m afraid and tempted at the same time. If you dare, you can get it here.

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Experimental film music from My Education, Einsturzende Neubauten member

Einsturzende Neubauten is one of those groups I always put in the category of “respect more than enjoy.” (Also, I never could and probably never will pronounce their name correctly – I finally gave up and took to calling them “Ein” for short).

They were among the pioneers of industrial music – an aesthetic that takes what used to be considered just plain noise – and incorporates it into songs. I have gotten into some of their early stuff, but honestly it comes across as abrasive and hurts my ears after a while. One exception – an old school song that I always enjoyed is “Yu Gung” – very exciting stuff and catchy in its way.

Thanks to my friend Chris Kinney, I recently discovered that there is more to Einsterzende Naubauten than I new – especially recently. The group has left much of the abrasiveness behind and taken a much more melodic approach.

“Sabrina,” from their 2001 album Silence is Sexy, is a pretty good example.

A few weeks ago, I attended a showing of Glasshouse at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, an event co-hosted by The Church of the Friendly Ghost. Glasshouse was a silent film about Danielle de Picciotto’s last night in New York City in 1987.  Accompanying the film was an ensemble that included Ein member Alexander Hacke, Danielle de Picciotto (who gave a spoken word performance about her experience) and Algis Kizys (The Swans, Foetus).

It was on a Sunday night and I was a bit drowsy – I had already had a very busy weekend – so the music and scenes drifted in and out of my consciousness, very dreamlike. Some of the sounds were darkly beautiful, others more abrasive and strange. At times it was almost catchy.  All in all a very surreal experience.

I can’t find any video of the Glasshouse performance, but here’s an interesting collaboration between Hacke and de Picciotto.

My Education

My Eduction from Psych Fest 4 (where I could’ve seen them, but for some reason didn’t)

As interesting as the main act was, I was most impressed by the live opening act, an Austin-based ensemble called My Education. Chris liked them so much, he bought several of their albums. I will probably buy a couple of them myself.

The group consisted of drums, piano, bass, guitar, slide guitar and violin. They performed a beautiful, flowing postrock that reminded me a lot of another Austin group, Explosions in the Sky.

The music really went well with the trippy video. They make excellent movie soundtrack music. In fact, they wrote a score for the 1927 German expressionist film Sunrise. You can watch the movie and hear them perform live at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar in Austin on Sunday, Sept. 9.

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Filed under experimental, industrial, live show, movie, video

Hailey Tuck and East Side Showroom – throwbacks to an older, classier era

Hailey Tuck, framed between two hipsters at East Side Showroom.

The first time I heard Austin’s Hailey Tuck, I left wondering if she really was as impressive as she seemed. I turned up late for her set at the Butterfly Bar during SXSW and only got to hear a few songs. A couple of weeks ago I finally got to hear more of her and yes, she is that good. I also got to check out the East Side Showroom, a place I’ve been curious about for a while.

Hailey is a torch singer of sorts. She’s young, beautiful, and has a gorgeous voice (If you liked Amy Winehouse, you should definitely check her out). She also genuinely loves jazz music. She performed jazz standards, as well as some songs I hadn’t heard before – and spent a little time sharing her knowledge with the audience.

Hailey was accompanied by a keyboard player and a drummer – who on this night was her father. I guess that shows where she gets her love for jazz.

The venue added quite a lot to the experience. Like Hailey, East Side Showroom was like a throwback to an older, classier era. The antique decor and lighting makes it resemble a speakeasy from the Prohibition days. The menu is unique – both the food and the cocktails have made the place popular with local hipsters. It’s also rather pricey. (It apparently costs a lot more to be a hipster than it does to be a bohemian.)

I had a tequila-based cocktail called a Devil’s Left Hand. Very tasty. I think I’ll try a Moscow Mule next time though. I hear good things about that one.

I couldn’t help but notice the silent movie playing overhead as Hailey sang. Buster Keaton was a genius. I definitely enjoyed the vibe of the place.

I went with my girlfriend and one of her friends and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Yes, the experience could be described as pretentious (the waitress tried to seat us someplace we didn’t really want to be, but it pretty much went over my head – girlfriend ensured that we got the table we wanted, with a good view of Hailey).

Speaking of my girlfriend, she blogged about her impressions of Hailey and East Side Showroom. Check it out here.

Hailey will perform at the East Side Showroom again on Aug. 14 and 28 and Sept. 11 and 25. I would highly recommend you check her out. Let me me know what you thought of Hailey and what cocktails you tried.

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Zach Anner announces new show: Riding Shotgun

Just got a great Facebook update from Zach Anner of Austin, my favorite wheelchair travel show host/comedian. He is about to start a new travel show that looks very promising.

You may remember that Zach won a national contest by Oprah Winfrey and got to make a travel show for OWN, her new cable network. I fell in love with him back then and was rooting for him the whole time. I posted about him and even went to see him at the Alamo Drafthouse.

I got to see most of the episodes of Rollin’ with Zach. I liked them, and I think it was a great launching pad for his career, but I didn’t think it demonstrated his real potential.

I got the feeling the show’s producers didn’t know quite what to do with him and were calling too many of the shots. He was funny and he had some interesting and adventurous experiences, but he didn’t get to be as spontaneous and funny as he can be.

The new show could be just what the doctor ordered. It will be “by the Internet, for the Internet.” He’s teaming up with Reddit and will make his travel choices in the U.S. and Canada based on input from Redditors. That’s an audience that can appreciate some adult humor, believe me. He’ll be able to be himself, and I bet it will be a lot of fun.

Here’s his announcement:

You can keep up with what Zach is doing by following his Facebook page.

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Dandy Warhols rock Emo’s Austin

Last week I finally got a chance to see the Dandy Warhols, one of my all-time favorite bands. Avant garde yet catchy, nice and psychedelic. I saw them at Emo’s in Austin in the company of some good friends.

One of my friends referred to them as the coolest-looking band on the planet, and he could be right. They don’t do a lot of jumping around on stage, they just look really cool. As cool as they sound. I sort of get the impression of lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor as someone who’s been around and seen and done pretty much everything, kinda  sleazy, druggy and wise.

The Dandy Warhols are still on tour. Check here to see if they’re coming to a town near you.

Didn’t manage to get a decent photo with my cellphone, alas, but check out this video of my favorite Dandy Warhols song. They killed on this one.

 

They also had some really kickass songs that I hadn’t heard before, many from their new album, This Machine.

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Yann Tiersen rocks Austin, Texas

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On Friday night, May 18, I got a chance to see one of my favorite French musicians – one of my favorite musicians period – Yann Tiersen. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I saw Amelie and heard his gorgeous soundtrack. Later on I discovered Les Retrouvailles and Rue des Cascades, both wonderful albums. I was surprised at how “rock ‘n’ roll” the concert was. There was a full band featuring Yann on keyboard and synth, two other guys on electronics, a bass player, guitarist and drummer. Yann is a multi-instrumentalist, as are several band members. Yann also played guitar, sang, and absolutely tore it up on violin. The best song by far was Yann’s violin solo on “La Vie Quotidienne” from Rue des Cascades. Here is a good overview of Yann’s career from Austinist magazine. Opening for Yann was a one-man band calling himself Piano Chat. Not much piano involved. He played drums and guitar and used a lot of loops. The highlight of his show came at the end, when got into the audience, placed a small harmonium on the floor and sang into a mic, while the crowd sang a chorus. Check out Yann’s website, where you can hear some of his music, watch some videos, and order a copy of his new album, Skyline.

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