SFBG Blogs

Noise Pop popped open


It’s over! And we all feel like we didn’t quite see as much as we would have liked. Ain’t that always the case for we, the pop neurotic? We came. We drank. We rocked. We nodded our heads with our arms folded loosely about ourselves. We stumbled home. We got damp. We didn’t quite conquer, but when we managed to get into the club, we felt that strange, ineffable sense of accomplishment.

Popping open an internal reporter’s notebook, I threw together a few highlights from my not-quite-embedded week in Noise Pop’s world:

The Lips have a lock on SF hearts.

Word has it that beaucoup bucks were being passed for Flaming Lips ticks on Noise Pop’s opening night at Bimbo’s. How nice to finally get inside, out of the drizzle — and to find the special edition silk-screened Lips poster also sold out. Stardeath and white dwarfs — including Lips frontperson Wayne Coyne’s nephew sporting a skin-tight, alluring green costume — opened with palate-tickling psych.

After a short set-up break, Coyne read the proclamation from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, naming March 27 through April 2, 2006, Noise Pop Week. Then all hell, balloons, and costumed Santa’s helpers broke loose. Don’t you miss those cozy, not-so-quiet shows in parking lots?

I’d include a pic of Steven Drodz deep-throating a mic, but I should keep it clean for all those soccer moms out there.

Balloons must be free.

Later, Coyne launched into an anti-Bush admin monologue. We’re with you, guy — I just got the slight, ever-so-slight impression that he uses those same lines on all the states, both red and blue. “We got to make it popular to be gay, smoke pot, and have abortions!” he shouted. Say it loud — say it proud.

The next night at Bimbo’s, Feist managed to gracefully skirt a PA outage, refusing to stop the show and singing a few tunes a cappella. Her drummer, however, threw a hissy fit and stomped off at one point. “We love you, Ringo,” yelled one onlooker. Hey, dude, the Beatles broke up years ago.

Jason Collett resembles the dapper bastard son of Peter Wolf
and Willy DeVille, no?

Feist was name-checked by her Broken Social Scene bandmate Jason Collett, who rolled out some nice 4/4 rock songcraft Friday night at Cafe du Nord. He paid tribute to his bad-seed years hanging at the mall and even unleashed some goofy, little soft-shoe. Brroooo — I mean, Jaaaaaasss…

Saturday day: It warmed the cockles of my dark lil’ heart to see so many turn out for the lady-dominated Indie Night School panel on music journalism, or how to get your CD reviewed (well, we hope).

On Saturday night, we hunkered down at Bottom of the Hill for a full night of hard rock with headliners Wolfmother. Portland’s Danava impressed with their mix of ’70s-referencing hard prog and ’80s-tinged crazed keys. What decade are we in? We had to admit — it was original.

A lotta Danava.

Wolfmother are good at what they do — rocking the house with a mix of Detroit rock, ala the Stooges and MC5, along with, natch, Sabbath. I just wish it they didn’t seem so studied — just a feeling you got watching the bassist go through his not-breaking-a-sweat moves.

That’s no puppy — that’s my band mate! Brightblack Morning Light at Great American Music Hall.

Sunday night wound down with Vetiver, Brightblack Morning Light, Neil Halstead, and Peggy Honeywell at Great American Music Hall. This show was notable for the sheer number of indie folkies sitting on the floor. No standing room only, goddammit. If only we were all reclining — that would complete the cool-down vibe of the fest’s final night.

Halstead forgot the words to one of his songs but was lovely nonetheless. Mojave who? Brightblack was stirring –showing off some slow, swinging folk-jazz fusion chops.

One interesting trend, apparent also at the recent His Name Is Alive show at Cafe du Nord: minion-like band members who sit on the stage like pets. Maybe the sitting thing was simply spreading, like a virus. But does anyone realize that these people are pretty much invisible to most of the room? Additionally these mascot-like stage sitters are usually women, who tend to look shy, servile, and childlike down there. Aw, c’mon, raise ’em up to where they belong.

All photos by Kimberly Chun.

Awesome; I fuckin’ talked to the Beasties!


The Beastie Boys’ new concert film Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That! opens today, March 31, in the Bay Area, so here’s more of my interview with them at the Austin, Texas, Hilton at SXSW a few weeks ago. Why? Well, because you can’t get enough of them, and I didn’t have enough space to include much of the talk in the paper this week. Perhaps some things are best left unblogged, but here you go.

Mike D., ne Diamond, gets a few pointers from the fans in a scene
from Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!

I kind of love this movie, by the way — not the least because the sample of the Dead Boys’ song “Sonic Reducer” recurs so often (in To the 5 Boroughs‘s “An Open Letter to NYC”). Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The premise of Awesome: Beastie Boy Adam Yauch comes up with the idea of giving a slew of cameras to fans in order to shoot the group’s sold-out show at Madison Square Garden during the 2004 To the 5 Boroughs tour. The upshot: Yauch, directing and producing under the pseud Nathaniel Hornblower, ends up spending the next year editing down the footage from 50-plus shooters. Ouch, Yauch. The super-shaky cinema verite handheld camera ack-shun threatened to have yours truly illin’, in a bad way — reminded me of early NYPD Blue — but it’s hard to beat the loud 5.1 mix, and Yauch ended up cutting loose impressively with the effects as the film, and concert, progresses.

Bay Guardian: So what’s with that Clear Channel and Scientology connection you made at the SXSW press conference — is there any reality to that?

Adam Horovitz: No, not at all. I was heavily misinformed by myself.

Mike Diamond: Y’know, Adam, some people would call it delusional.

BG: What were a few of the challenges you encountered making the film?

Adam Yauch: It’s actually harder sometimes having more options. When you have 61 angles to choose from, in a lot of ways it’s harder than if you just had one take or three takes or five takes, and you can exhaust them pretty quick, and you’re like, “OK, that’s the best part of this.” But it’s kind of insane having that many choices.

BG: How much input did the rest of you have?

AH: I didn’t want to get involved.

MD: I actually begged Yauch to take out the scene, the explicit scene of me dancing with the young lady, and … he wouldn’t. He left it in. He didn’t listen to either of us.

[At one point in Awesome, a camera person captures a woman in the audience executing the exact same dance move as Diamond onstage; Yauch then literally flips it and reverses it, superimposing the lady’s image alongside Diamond’s as if the two are dancing together.]

AY: Adam wanted me to take the pee out. [Awesome includes a clip of one of the shooters going to the men’s room and taking a leak.] I went back and said, “C’mon.”

AH: He pulled a Mario C. [Caldato, longtime B Boys producer and collaborator]

MD: Literally, he was like, “You know you love that part.”

AH: “Y’know,” he said, “I’ve talked to a lot of people, and a lot of my people are saying they really like that part.”

AY: But didn’t I start off my speech by saying, “I’m going to pull a Mario C on you right now”? It’s like when you invent this big background, like maybe one or two people told you something, but you act like it’s 50.

AH: I appreciated the bathroom scene, but I didn’t need to see the guy peeing. That’s all I’m saying.

BG: Too much information?

AH: A little much.

AY: That was Tamra’s [Davis, filmmaker and Diamond’s wife] favorite part of the movie.

MD: The girl dancing?

AY: No, the peeing.

MD: The people overall, when I showed it in my personal screening room. To my test audience…

AH: He does have a screening room.

MD: …Everyone in my audience actually really liked the bathroom thing, but they thought the girl dancing part was their favorite part, too. [Davis] liked it a lot. I was not reprimanded, not once. Rightfully so…because I had nothing to do…

AH: Mike does get reprimanded. Often. That’s a whole other thing.

MD: …That was some digital tomfoolery.

AY: No! That was me exploring you and that woman’s fantasy! Just showing what was going on in your head at that moment.

AH: Hey, you’re married but you’re not dead, Mike. Y’know what I’m saying? Ya can dance.

I gotta give a shout out to my friend Tammy Rae — just had a kid, Rydell. Any shoutouts for SF?

MD: Mixmaster Mike is from the Bay Area.

Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, a.k.a., Nathaniel Hornblower, gets shot.
From Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!

BG: What about that digital tomfoolery in the movie – did you have to cool it after a while? Were there any limits?

AY: I think there’s a limit to it. I think there was times when I think we went too far with some of the effects. And then we pulled back and tried to find where it was most effective and where it worked with the music and the show overall. There were some strobe effects that went too far.

BG: So will there be completely remixed version of the concert film on DVD?

AY [looking stunned]: There will probably be some outtakes.

AH: Would there be some way, Adam, on the DVD that you could have on the full screen, all the angles, and you could somehow click on that one and it opens up and you could watch the whole video.

AY: That would not be possible.

AH: Even if you had it on a DivX file, a really small file?

AY: You can only have nine alternate angles. That is the cap.

AH: You’re gonna have to change the science on that, Adam.

AY: We could make a CD-ROM or a DVD-ROM, but in DVD technology you can’t do that, that I know of.

AH: Fill that ROM shit up.

MD: Yeah, I’ll get ROM-steen right on that shit!

AY: What we could do is have the whole grid going from beginning to end and people could just zoom in on a part.

AH: That’s what I’m wondering, can you magnify that spot?

AY: Somebody could.

AH: How?

AY: Some fool could just like blow it up to that camera. They’d have to have some software to do it.

AH: We should have applications and software and stuff on the DVD.

AY: That would be cool — editing software.

MD: I like that idea.

AH: Talk to our people.

[BG babbles something about how this project dovetails with hip-hop aesthetics and the creative interchange between fans and artists. Beastie Boys wonder what the question is. An embarrassing silence ensues.]

AH: Why can’t anybody just be happy with what they got right now? You got to see the video — you gotta remix it. You go see The Godfather — you gotta remix it. You listen to Crosby, Stills, and Nash — you gotta remix it. Y’know what I’m saying?

MD: That’s what I’m gonna say next time somebody asks me, ‘Have you heard this new record by so-and-so?” I’m gonna be like, “Ahh, you should check my remix!”

AH: “Google me, muthafucka!” [Laughs] I’m on the fence about…

AY: Just a minute ago you were telling people to put software on the DVD, and now you’re against the whole thing!

AH: It is a contradiction. It’s exciting that you can do all this weird shit. But at the same time…

MD: Can’t you leave it alone?

AH: Everything is a mash-up, remix. Sprite remix, Taco Bell remix.

MD: But some of those Sprite mixes are kinda hot. I’m telling you.

AH: I saw an ad for the new Blondie greatest hits, featuring the outtakes and featuring the new Blondie/Doors mash-up, and they’re playing “Call Me” mixed with “Riders on the Storm.”

MD: Adam, this is not…

AH: No, no, Kathleen saw this, too. I’m serious. What’s wrong with people? You can’t just listen to “Hanging on the Phone” and be happy with that?

BG: So has the movie changed your artistic outlook?

AY: Like the tension between us? We’ve been having trouble getting along?

AH: Made me watch that man peeing, I’m not happy about.

MD: I’m scarred and I’m hurt.

Howell at the moon, Buck missed, Jello on Fab Mab


Viz art shows to look out for: SF’s Jay Howell co-runs mt. st. mtn., the vinyl record label that’s putting out the Sic Alps EP as well as other tasty treats. His art will be up at “Jump Over Me,” a group show including works by Andre Razo and Nick Wilkinson, at 111 Minna Gallery in Ess Eff.


Should have some good vibes. The show’s subtitle: “Jump over me and I’ll watch you do well. We don’t hate it when our friends become successful.”

The press release goes on to describe the exhibit as “an eclectic new art show by painters, illustrators, wood carvers, ship builders, skateboarders, house painters, cafe workers, graphic designers, janitors, great dancers, and cactus growers all getting together for a month of fun in San Francisco.” The opening is April 6. Be there or be cultivating cactus.


So sad that California country icon Buck Owens passed this weekend, on March 25. I’ll never forget the time I visited his Crystal Palace in Bakersfield and requested my favorite Buckeroos song at the time, “You’re for Me.” Buck held my hand, from his perch on the stage, and then played the tune. Blew my mind into a thousand bits of Buck-shot.


The Los Angeles Times reports today:

Services for country singer Buck Owens, who died Saturday at 76, will be held this weekend in Bakersfield.

A public viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Valley Baptist Church, 4800 Fruitvale Ave.

Owens’ family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Bakersfield SPCA, 3000 Gibson St., Bakersfield, CA 93308-6110.


This in from Alternative Tentacles headquarters today:

(You’d Think People Would Know By Now, But…) Here We Go Again

We are getting too many reports of people buying $25 tickets to a so-called “Fab Mab Reunion” concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco thinking it is a Dead Kennedys reunion, therefore Biafra will be there.

Jello responds:

Enough people are confused [that] we need to set the record straight. No, it is not a Dead Kennedys reunion. Yes, I am boycotting the whole scam. These are the same greed-mongers who ran to corporate lawyers and sued me for over six years in a dispute sparked by my not wanting “Holiday in Cambodia” sold into a Levi’s commercial. They now pimp Dead Kennedys in the same spirit as Mike Love suing Brian Wilson over and over again, then turning around and playing shows as the Beach Boys. They despise everything our band ever stood for.

“Money Uber Alles” is what all these bands used to stand against. Back in Mabuhay days, no one was more up front about not selling out to Bill Graham than Dead Kennedys and Flipper, especially Will Shatter (RIP). Now Bill Graham Presents has been swallowed and the name is being used as a front for Clear Channel, as nasty a corporate predator as Fox News and Wal-Mart.

It breaks my heart that Dead Kennedys now seems to have the worst reputation of any old punk band trying to cash in on their names, even more than the so-called Misfits. We still get complaints from people who bought tickets to shows expecting Dead Kennedys and getting stuck with the world’s greatest karaoke band. Others report someone they know getting ripped off thinking they were seeing me the whole time because no one on stage ever mentioned the singer’s name. I guess it’s sort of like paying to see Black Sabbath and finding out the singer is Donny Osmond.

So I hope people who go know in advance what they are getting into. As Johnny Rotten said at the Sex Pistols’ own miserable Bill Graham experience, “Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated?”


Heard anything about a “secret” Flipper show, far from the madding crowd?

Deerhoof tracks…Harry Smith


This morning, I went to the press conference for the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 20-May 4) — wunderbar to hear the appreciation for the “avant-pop” Deerhoof, who have been enlisted to score beat filmmaker Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magic for the fest, live, one time only (though that Yo La Tengo score a few years back took on a life of its own, didn’t it?).


You can hem and haw, huff and puff, kvetch and moan about how this fest isn’t up to that fest or how women, Latinos, Africans, and African Americans aren’t represented — and you can be satisfied that those concerns were definitely the focus of the questions at the press conference — but this Deerhoof event is guaranteed awesome. Innovative filmmaking — a band at the top of their freakin’ game. The SF-Oakland Runners Four are supposedly trying to utilize Castro Theatre’s impressive pipe organ, too. I’d get your tickets now for the April 27 performance. Visit www.sffs.org or call (925) 866-9559. You’ve been warned.

Further music-related coolness at the fest: Brothers of the Head, Favela Rising, Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, “Not so Quiet Silents with Alloy Orchestra” — not counting outright musicals like psych-noir-film legend Seijun Suzuki’s Princess Raccoon and actor John Turturro’s Centerpiece.


Guardian film intern Jonathan Knapp wants to wax positive about Noise Pop’s film program this year. Here’s what he wrote:

Bookended by a pair of docs about American musical icons both thriving (Flaming Lips-trailing The Fearless Freaks ) and enduring (Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley), the Noise Pop Film Festival, like the festival itself, spans the indie rock landscape. Of particular historical significance are Borderline: The Heavenly States and The M-80 Project.

The former finds local power-poppers the Heavenly States documenting their 2005 tour of Libya, the first by any Western band since Qadaffi came to power 35 years earlier. Long discussed in the sort of anxious whisper reserved for artifacts considered lost, the footage comprising The M-80 Project captures new wave culture before it became a marketable sound, fashion, and eventual retro touchstone. Minneapolis, 1979: future MTV darlings Devo meet no wave upstarts the Contortions and Judy Nylon and other post-punk experimentalists at a local art center. They play music, young Midwestern lives are changed, and, years later, the legendary video resurfaces.

For doc deets, visit www.noisepop.com/2006/films.php.

Tapes ‘N Horses ‘N Ladyhawks ‘N more


Weekend’s here and I’m hoping to keep it hail-free this time around. There are some heated hip-hop shows this weekend: Ghostface with M1 from Dead Prez at Mezzanine tonight and that massive Andre Nickatina and Equipto at Studio Z Saturday. Arab Strap are strapping the groovy boys on tonight and tomorrow at Cafe du Nord — with much excitement about His Name Is Alive. I’m psyched to see Islands with Metric at the Fillmore (along with the Strokes and Eagles of Death Metal at the Concourse) — and that’s all tonight. My ears are already starting to smart.

BoH_Roof5 sml.jpg
Whoa, it’s Band of Horses.
Credit: Robin Laananen

And Sub Pop breakout beasts Band of Horses are playing with Earlimart tonight at the Independent (and if you miss them, the Horseys also play a free show at Amoeba Music in SF on — fooled ya — April 1, 2 p.m.). Remember these guys from onetime Bay Area indie rock band Carissa’s Wierd? Very wierd how what comes around goes around — and gets reincarnated as equine musicmakers. Nice beards, dudes. Couldn’t bother to shave, could you? S’OK — I didn’t either!

And then it’s open season on Noise Pop starting Monday. Yeehaw.

114_1497 tapes sml.jpg
Whoa, it’s Tapes ‘N Tapes at Cafe du Nord

Last night I went to du Nord to see Minneapolis band Tapes ‘N Tapes play their hearts out and praise SF (and diss LA, complaining about the dreary cold down south — we got lucky, I think). They rocked, all over the place — still forming their sound, no doubt. Twas a strong one.


Your pals at Jagjaguwar (www.jagjaguwar.com) e-mailed, ever so personally, to say they signed Vancouver band Ladyhawk, who are touring with Magnolia Electric Co. Wasn’t that also the title of a cheesy Mists of Avon Ladies-style fantasy flick in the ’80s? Anyway, said band’s self-titled CD/LP debut is due June 6.

The label writes that the band’s album is “a stomping and sweaty ride through the Vancouver streets that they all know well, as viewed from the seats of a bruised and doorless Astro Van. In this ride, you can’t help but feel that you will fall out and you will fall down, and your joints will all be sore at the end of the trip. Ladyhawk’s core is bracing rock. Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night is the hailstorm on the hood of the Replacement’s Let It Be, while distorted guitars invoke the thread and swerve of Silkworm and Dinosaur Jr.”

I write that the ’90s are back and there’s nothing you can about it. Except to bury your combat boots in a small hole in the backyard and then pile dog manure gathered from Dolores Park trash cans all over it. It — the ’90s, that is — will probably still come back — but at least you tried.

If you embrace the grunge revivalism, listen to the MP3 for “The Dugout” from Ladyhawk’s debut at www.scjag.com/mp3/jag/dugout.mp3

NOISE: SXSW, fantasy softball, part 3


OK, I swear, this is it. Enough SXSW, already. We gotta move on. So let’s get it out of our system, down on blog, and tricycle out to greener, sunnier pastures.

First off, the homo-happenin’ Ark may not have as good a name as their fellow Malmo, Sweden, rockers Quit Your Dayjob, but they managed to evoke the gods of candy-colored pop-rock good times not witnessed since Andrew WK headlined Bottom of the Hill. These guys work hard for their money. So hard for it, honey.

114_1452 ark 2 sml.JPG

Manic vocalist Salo was shaking that sheckel-maker, telling the SXSW sloggers they embodied his song title, “Rock City Wankers,” and leading the crowd in a chant of “Tonight, one of us is gonna die young.” Someday the sassy singer is gonna be a “Father of a Son,” indeed — as long as those white hot pants don’t cramp his style. “It’s Saturday and no one wants to hear any more music!” he yelled, echoing the thoughts of so many wandering Austin like zombies with a blood hangover. This superfun Emo’s IV day showcase with the Gossip, Wooden Wand, and the Giraffes was one of my faves at SXSW.

114_1450 ark 3 sml.JPG

114_1458 ark sml 1.JPG

Most sighted celebrity, according to Akimbo (who I bunked down with in the Alternative Tentacles flophouse, a.k.a. George Chen’s Super 8 motel room): J. Mascis. “He was everywhere.”

113_1397 dance pants sml.JPG
Not J. Mascis’s ass

Oh look, wait, that’s Andy Gill in the middle, doing a crotch-block dance move, with fellow Gang of Four member Dave Allen and Peaches. This party happened earlier in the week at a smoke-filled, Camel-sponsored V2/Dim Mak thing. Weirdest moment: Peaches shakes a Dos Equis and hands it to Gill to spray on the audience, and he, looking befuddled, opens the can and pours it all over her CDs.

114_1406 peach dave andy sml.JPG

114_1417 peach dance sml.JPG

I didn’t get to catch nearly as many SXSW panels as I wanted to, but the ones I did were incisive and low on bull dookie.

Best quips from the conference panel “Rolling Down the River: Revenue Streams Artists Should Know About”: International Artist Agency’s Stephen Brush on album sales: “Fuck the record. It helps. But at the end of the day, you’re building the audience one day at a time.” JSR Merchandising’s Brad Hudson on merch: “In the 26 years I’ve been doing this, the black T-shirt has been the staple. A lot of artists come up with great ideas but you’ll find the majority of the revenue coming from that T-shirt. Three T-shirts and a hoodie.”

Most Guardian-friendly soundbyte from Damian Kulash of OK Go at the surprisingly well-attended “Ten Things You Can Do to Change the World” panel: “It’s easy to say ‘Everyone vote!’ onstage. It’s hard to say, ‘There’s a media consolidation problem in this country, especially if you’re trying to get your single on Clear Channel station.”

114_1440 change world sml.JPG
Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, Steve Earle, and Jenny Toomey at the “Ten Things You Can Do to Change the World” panel. Earle: “How many Republicans are here?”

Word had it that the city of Austin was cracking down on singer-songwriter and former Kurt Cobain squeeze (and focus of mad Courtney jealousy) Mary Lou Lord, according to Austinist. She called them to say that the cops shut her down for busking in the street “citing a new law banning “amplification.”

Yeesh, this after attending and playing on Sixth Street during SXSW for 11 fucking years. Anyway, she managed to hold this spot next to a late-night convenience store, across the posh, supposedly haunted Driscoll Hotel. Her pal Jason and his gorgeous falsetto deserve to be snapped up by some lucky label.

114_1425 mary lord sml.JPG

SF’s Boyskout got the rock out at a Lava Lounge Patio show with IMA, Faceless Werewolves, Knife Skills, Happy Flowers, Skullening, and Die! Die! Die! Tight.

114_1462 boyskout sml.JPG

The lady — namely Lady Sovereign — looks scary. Here she is at La Zona Rosa. (After losing my way to the Anti- Hoot with Billy Bragg and Jolie Holland, I managed to catch her, as well as Bauhaus-soundalikes She Wants Revenge and the snarksome We Are Scientists down the street at Fox and Hound.) LS’s beats were harsh, and the vibe was, yes, brattay. (She likes to throw down…that microphone.)

114_1466 lady sov sml.JPG

Ghostface made a Wu-Tang face right after the Lady — very fun. GK commanded the stage, the crowd went nuts over the Wu tunes, and I appreciated the sound of gunfire that gently segued between the songs. Whoo.

114_1478 ghost sml.JPG

The official SXSW-closer softball game/barbecue was called for rain. But hadn’t we had enough white bread by then?

114_1441 rainout sml.JPG

Noise: SXSW, too many bands


Dennis Cabuco of the Guardian and Harold Ray Live in Concert!, signing in for a final SXSW posting. I had a blast during the final days of SXSW, so here’s a quick account of my wanderings through Austin, Texas:

Friday afternoon

The North Loop Block Party took place in North Austin with three stages set up in parking lots between vintage shops, a record store, and a kink boutique. I had a few beers with friends and saw the following bands:

The Time Flys — I see these guys often, but they definitely have tightened up since the time we all got drunk for a Cereal Factory show together.

The Cuts — I also see these guys often. Gotta say, they still remind me a lot of the Cars. Yeah, I could see these guys and the Time Flys in SF, but there were a lot of other good bands (whose names I didn’t get) at the block party as well, and with three stages, there was no wait between bands. The audience was composed of nice, well-dressed people. I took some time out to check out all the cool shops and relax from the frantic urgency of seeing bands downtown.

The Nice Boys — I didn’t know they were from Portland, and I didn’t know that one of the guys was in the Exploding Hearts either.

Dazzling King Solomon — This band has a couple of members from the Nervous Exits. Awesome ’60s rock. Crunchy.

I had lunch at Stubbs where I saw We Are Scientists, a threepiece that sounds a lot like the Killers.

Friday night

Ponderosa Stomp — I went to the Continental Club, which was packed, to see Barbara Lynn tearing it up on guitar, playing a leftie strat. She is amazing player, and sings with a soul-stirring voice. I was very moved by her performance. Afterward, I saw Eddie Bo. I say again, Eddie Bo! No, he didn’t do “Check Your Bucket” or “the Thang”, perhaps because they didn’t have the original band to do it, but it was cool to hear him backed bt Little Band of Gold anyway. Archie Bell came up to school us on how to do the “Tighten Up”, which I never know how to do.

OK Go — I watched most of their set on the big screen from outside of the Dirty Dog. It was at capacity, and they weren’t letting anyone else in. If only the industry dorks drinking by the window would leave so the fans could get in. They were oblivious to the amazing show taking place right behind them. I got in just before the last song and the “encore,” the “Million Ways” dance. If you wanna know what that is, you can watch the video on the OK Go website.

On my way up to the Fox and Hound to see Animal Collective, I took Fourth Street, which was blocked off for a St. Patty’s spring-break meat-market hoedown — a block party packed with homogenous, drunken college folks. The good that came of that jaunt: I found out Brandi Carlile was playing at Cedar St. Courtyard, an outdoor patio with good sound. I’ll get back to that.

I made it to the Fox and Hound, which had a long line for Animal Collective. I was still in line when they started their set. The first number lasted about 10 minutes and went nowhere. It was the kind of music I’d hear at a club — a beat, some record scratching, and no discernable melody. I just couldn’t get into it, so I took off in the middle of their second song, out to seek something with melody and harmony.

I fought the St. Patty’s revelers once more to get to the patio where Carlile was playing. She was getting a lot of praise from a pop music station in Austin, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. With a new album just out, she kicks off her first major tour with SXSW in Austin, and if the crowd was any indication of the response she’ll get on tour, it will be a success. It took a while to get the sound worked out as the crowd grew anxious, but we were rewarded with a professional show, and the sound was the best anywhere that evening. She did a couple of songs with a cello player. The bass and guitar players are twins. Brandi is a natural on stage and sings with a sweet sincerity that you can’t help but love. Her songs have universal themes with broad appeal, and it’s a pleasure to watch her perform.

When I left the Courtyard at about 2:00 a.m., the college crew had disappeared, leaving only the canopies, bad leprechaun decorations, and plastic cups littering the street. I walked along Sixth Street to find that the spring-breakers had spilled out to mix with the SXSW crowd, and it was mayhem. People were yelling into their cell phones looking for parties. I witnessed some groping, some drama, and a girl sporting red flashing LEDs on her nips, highlighting her 38D bustline. She should meet up with the guy who had a scrolling LED belt buckle.

Saturday afternoon

I went to Cream Vintage for a show in their back parking lot. The fans were undaunted by the rain as petite blonde Annie Kramer played her set. She was joined by A FirJu Well, who backed her up for a few songs. We sang along to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” as the PA cut out because of the rain. If the Grateful Dead kept playing ’60s stuff throughout their career, they might’ve sounded like this. These guys obviously hang out and play music all the time — they were so comfortable backing others and improvising through technical difficulties.

Saturday night

I got to Zona Rosa to see Morningwood midset, and they were excellent. See them live if you get a chance. I was convinced to stay and see the Stills by a fan named Rene. She gave me a quick rundown on the band’s background and their songs as they played. They had great energy, keyboards, harmonies, and danceable songs. I couldn’t tell what was old or new, but I liked it all. Emily from Metric made an appearance to do a new song with them, which she had just learned in their tour bus on the way fom Canada.

I took a cab over to the Continental Club to see Andre Williams. It was nice to see him, but most of the good tunes, like “Rib Tips,” are practically instumentals. For this, the band makes all the difference. The Continental Club was packed, and it had a party atmosphere, but the music was nothing like what I heard on the recordings. I know Williams is also a good keyboardist, so I was disappointed that he didn’t strut his stuff on organ. I left after about five songs and took a cab back to Red River Road.

I ran into my new friend Rene while at at Emo’s Annex to see a fun indie band called I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. One song, “Your Worst Is the Best” reminded me a bit of Death Cab for Cutie. I went to the Velvet Spade for a drink and to say hi to the Nervous Exits (whom I had missed at 10 p.m.). I went upstairs to see the stage where my band played our first SXSW two years ago. They had a tent around the outdoor patio this time. I heard some good R&B and looked up to see a guy who looked like he should be in a ’70s rock band singing and shaking his head while hammering a Hammond XB2 and a Fender Rhodes. John and the drummer Van make up the Black Diamond Heavies from Nashville belting out some heavy blues rock with no guitarist!

I left on my way to Stubbs to see the Pretenders, but was distracted by some good music coming from Club DeVille. The doorperson told me it was the Cribs. I walked up to the stage and ended up staying for their whole set, riveted by their performance. Hailing from England, this threepiece reminds me of the Jam and early Green Day. It’s refreshing to see a young band so into their music. They were also tight and well-rehearsed. The guitarist knocked over his Orange amp during their final song, the drummer knocked over his set, and the bassist left his amp oin to feedback as they exited the stage. I missed the Pretenders, but heard it was a great show.

My last hoorah was the super-exclusive, invite only, no-getting-in-without-a-special-pass, Vice Magazine Party, attended by hundreds. I arrived at the Blue Genie in East Austin just in time to see Wolfmother, who were amazing. Where do they get all that energy after playing (at least) four shows at SXSW? I stood right in front of the keyboard player to watch him use all his effects, which were duct-taped to the top of his XB-2, which of course had to be duct-taped to the stand for all that dancing around. This show was way loud, and they ended with the keyboard player leaving his rig sideways, effects looping with his amp on.

Probably the coolest people I met there were Sara Liss from Now magazine http://www.nowtoronto.com/minisites/sxsw/2006/
and her friend Melanie. We compared notes of our SXSW experiences while we sipped mixed drinks made with Phillips vanilla whiskey. Wierd! Yummy though.

My last, last hoorah was Fuzz club for a pcyched out 60’s night at Beerland on Sunday night where the Mojo Filters played a tight set.

Sunday evening, I saw a much more subdued Austin, catching its breath from the biggest party of the year. Besides SXSW, there were also roller derbies and a rodeo. This is the most hectic week Austin experiences, and I’m sure a lot of the natives are glad it’s over. It was raining as a thunderstorm pulled in, but still relatively warm. I will miss Austin and will likely come back next year.

With an overwhelming number of bands playing at the same time, it was inevitable that I would not get to see everyone I wanted to see, so here’s a partial list of other bands I wish I saw:

The Noisettes
Mates of State
Of Montreal
Film School
Allen Toussaint
Rock and Roll Soldiers
Persephone’s Bees
Seventeen Evergreen
The Nervous Exits
Gris Gris
Drunk Horse
the Pretenders
the Charlatans

Thanks, Amy for being such a gracious host, and for taking me to the best Mexican restaurant in Austin.

NOISE: SXSW, the final fantasy, part 2


SXSW — oh, that old thing? That was sooo…last Saturday. Before it fades from memory, only to be replaced by the latest whiskey bar, here are a few more toasts.

On Friday, we swung by the Band of Gold (featuring Archie Bell, DJ Fontana, and Barbara Lynn) but drove on by Club De Ville, daunted by the early line-formations. We saw the chalk outlines of a very long wait and checked in on Bettye LaVette at La Zona Rosa to see she cancelled. Oh well, Fatcat Records, Pawtracks, Bubblecore, and Motormouthmedia.com hosted an avant-art-hippie-core hoedown right down the street at Fox and Hound, featuring the Mutts, Tom Brosseau, and headliners Animal Collective. That brought out the girls with dyed black hair in tiered skirts and, natch, the boys with beards. I was wondering where they all were. Great merch table, by the way — a righteous free CD with every purchase.

113_1387 ice sml.JPG

The lady-centric First Nation disappointed with their low energy musicmaking, but man, Storsveit Nix Noltes from Reykjavik, Iceland, worked those accordions, trumpets, cellos with lovely Eastern European folksong abandon. “Dance, dance!” yelped the cellist leader. We hear and try to obey — but the beards are screwed on too tightly. I hate when that happens.

Earlier Friday eve, I stepped into Yard Dogs, near Club De Ville, to glimpse the finale of the Bloodshot Records party. Nice music-related folk art inside, including Mekon Jon Langford’s faux-weathered works in tribute to Hank Williams and other country and American idols and icons (he was throwing down an opening the next night), and Jad Fair’s whimsical, colorful ink and paint pieces. “Folk” art here means art by music folk or about music folk — got it? Get it. The best buy had to be Rev. Howard Finster’s wood cutouts of musical legends (I know I was tempted by a Merle Haggard piece with very defined teeth).

113_1385 yard dogs bldsht sml.JPG

Stepped into Ba Da Bing/Leaf’s showcase at Blender Balcony at the Ritz (just had to fight the lines for Brakes, the Kooks, Editors, KT Tunstall, and the Feeling for the Blender Bar space at street level). Early on, Utrillo Kushner of Comets on Fire played songs in the key of “solo project” alongside Garrett Goddard of the Cuts on drums. It’s called Colossal Yes. Dig the ironic Magnum PI shirt!

113_1391 col yes crop.jpg

The Ba Da Bing showcase closed with a rare show by London’s Th’ Faith Healers, one of my pre-grunge post-punk faves from back in the early ’90s day. Thrilling. Regained faith. Was healed. Went home and fondled the flannel.

114_1420 faith heal sml.JPG

Another awesome, somewhat unappreciated aspect of the SXSW music conference (which Guardian contributor Kurt Wolff had to remind me about): Flatstock Poster Convention, usually held simultaneously on the groundfloor of the Austin Convention Center. The denizens of one booth silkscreened T-shirts as you waited, and most artists also designed a poster for the exhibit. Drool over the splashy graphics. Be pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices. Reach for your wallet. Shield your precious new piece of art from the rain.

114_1433 flatstck 1 sml btr.JPG

Philadelphia’s Pushmepullyou Design boss lady Eleanor Grosch; www.pushmepullyoudesign.com

114_1428 flatstk 5 sml.JPG

Boss Construction from Nashville, TN; www.bossconstruct.com

114_1431 flatstck 2 sml.JPG

Matt Daly of the Bird Machine, Inc., Chicago; www.thebirdmachine.com

114_1430 flatstk 3 sml.JPG

The Decoder Ring Design Concern, Austin, TX; www.thedecoderring.com

NOISE: Go Bats


Who drunkenly referred to New Zealand band the Bats as the “Hobbit’s Go-Betweens?” Were they cracked out on ethereal pop?

Judge for yourself when the Bats attempt to cement last year’s comeback long-player, At the National Grid, in your consciousness — with, of course, a tour. They stop at Amoeba Music, SF today at 6 p.m. for a free show, then wing over to Rickshaw Stop at 8 p.m. (then on to the Starry Plough March 23). Essential for NZ popsters — you know who you are. You love the guano.

BATSwToys sml.JPG

NOISE: SXSW, the final days, part 1


So much has happened and so little blogging has gotten done. Could there be a connection? Yep. So here’s a little more on SXSW, the final days, revolving around what photos I could take before my camera died a horrible death –like all the other electronic devices around me.

The Nice Boys from Portland, Ore., tapped a fun Cheap Trick/Faces vein of pure ’70s-era gold. Rawk at the Birdman Records Showcase.

113_1344 nice sml.JPG

Power rock with extreme volume and lots of melody — all from a lil’ ole threepiece called the Evangelicals. Very fun — and worth checking into when not studying Bay Area DJ Mike Relm’s DVD scratch technique next door at the Blind Pig.

113_1399 evan sml.JPG

Shows at houses, record stores, boutiques, garages — one thing you gotta love about SXSW is the way the entire city seems filled with music. Music is oozing out of every corner of its mouth, dripping sloppily all over its chin and into its crotch. And it doesn’t care! (Though of course it does care, deeply, about music) These shows were strictly for locals on South First Street — I came to see Palaxy Tracks.

113_1354 palaxy sml.JPG

Ran into John Vanderslice, who only wanted to talk about how much he wanted to get back to SF after touring Europe with Death Cab for Cuties (where they were treated, if not like kings, then well-regarded “court jesters,” he chuckled). He performed with Matt from Nada Surf and Rocky Votolato, fellow Barsuk artists, at End of the Ear, a cool vinyl store on South First.

113_1377 jv sml.JPG

Palaxy Track’s guitar player’s other project, Octopus Project, headlined in the backyard of Bella Blue boutique nearby. Boys in tights and hot pants played basketball in the driveway.

113_1381 oct proj sml.JPG

113_1375 bella blue sml.JPG

The music just couldn’t stop — it didn’t matter if you couldn’t play an instrument and just wanted to play 7-inches on your battery-powered turntables. “Sit and spin” takes on yet another meaning.

113_1390 turn sml.JPG

NOISE: SXSW’s Peach-y keen naked ladies


Stealth “special” appearances by Jane’s Addiction/Perry Farrell, Norah Jones, and Flaming Lips? Those SXSW events were one-upped by a spontaneous session of the itty bitty titty club (and prominent potbelly chapter) when Peaches teamed with Dave Allen of Gang of Four for a DJ set at Friday night’s V2/Dim Mak party, charmingly titled “Clusterfuck.” That was sort of the vibe as Peaches and Allen spun Suicide-like beats, hard-edge dance numbers, and the Rezillos — the most screwy aspect was all the endless Camel advertising/product placement going on. (And what was with all the cigarette giveaways at this year’s fest?)

In any case, I confess I like Mistress P’s style: She basically yelled at the crowd, ordered them to dance, and then jumped into the audience and moshed into me. It was like bouncing into a big, fluffy cinnamon bun — Peaches smells just fine! And that’s enough to make anyone dance.

114_1405 peach dave sml.JPG

Later a slew of burlesque dancers got onstage and shook it like a Polaroid land camera. Entertaining — too bad it seemed to drive half the crowd away. Maybe Suicide Girl-style go-go schtick’s moment has passed. Or perhaps the culture vultures would have stuck around if the ladies stripped and threw Camels… Now that would be a sight to see.

114_1413 pch burl smller.JPG

Noise: SXSW disarm the harm


That’s a line from Protokol’s “Moving Forward”, who played at the I Heart Comix party at the Beauty Bar. They remind me a lot of the Killers and the Bravery. Let’s see if there’s room for them on ever shifting fickleness of pop.

Wolfmother also played at the same party, and I’m so glad they’re playing a lot of shows at this festival ’cause they F*ing rock! They’re an energetic 3-piece with the keyboard player holding down bass duties on a porta- Hammond.

Bransen was OK. They played at Red 7.

Helio’s Creed was OK. Their brand of psychedelia was too heavy for me. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Check ’em out: http://www.helios-creed.com

The Like were likeable. They played a packed house at Elysium.

The Gossip was fantastic! The lead singer had authority, and she had no qualms telling the audience she had to correct some wedgie issues. That rules. I still don’t know how they did bass lines with no bassist. I guess the guitarist was handling it.

I missed Ian McLagan but met him afterward and some friends in front of the Whisky bar where he played. I heard it was a great show. He lives in Austin, and I hear he plays here often, so I’ll see ya’ next time I’m in town, Mac.

I decided to save my energy for the next day and not go to any after parties, but I still managed to stay out ’till 4:00 AM.

NOISE: Mani, dancey, and ssssecretssss at SXSW…


Wednesday night, I checked out the Death and Taxes party at Austin’s new Beauty Bar, owned by Trail of the Dead’s Jason and open all of three days, he told me. He seemed to be coping well with his anarchic new life as a bar owner (the fiancee ran up to tell him he shouldn’t treat people to multiple rounds of drinks). This place used to be a car repair joint — above the conversation pit, former Bay Area- and now NYC-based rapper and Stanford grad MC Lars was playing old school hip-hop.

113_1335 crplarsbbarsmall.jpg
MC Lars stoops to DJ.

Z is for “zany”: The costumed, manic Japanese punk combo Peelander-Z drummed up an audience outside their show on packed Sixth Street. Can I get some ham with my band?

113_1338 peeland small.JPG

Darlington, UK, art-punk group We Start Fires got some fellahs hot under the collar — all while making ragged but right-on Fall-like rock. “You’re sexy!” someone yelled. “American men are so nice,” the keyboardist said demurely.

113_1339 wsf small.JPG

Thursday afternoon, at the Kill Rock Stars/5RC day party, Panther broke out the nasty now-I-lay-me-down dance steps for the small but psyched crowd. And there was no KFC from KRS! Just plenty of that SXSW party staple: BBQ pork and chicken, beans, cole slaw, and white bread. Can’t forget the sliced white bread.

113_1358 panth smal leg.JPG

Spider and the Webs also performed at the KRS/5RC soiree. Maggie Vail of the Bangs, who works for KRS, jumped up to sing backup vocals.

113_1367 spider smaller.JPG

Thursday night, I slipped into the secret Beastie Boys 7 pm show at Stubb’s. Kewl to see the three without costumes, close up. But you’re going to have to trust me on this: My digital camera pooped out far too soon. Ask me to show you my cell phone camcorder “short films.”

113_1373 adrock small.JPG
SXSW gets it up for Ad-Rock.

NOISE: After the goldrush


About a thousand were said to be turned away from the capacity SXSW Neil Young and Jonathan Demme keynote talk/interview yesterday. Bay Area veteran music writer Jaan Uhelszki did a great job drawing out the insights and animal metaphors from Shakey.


The creative process was on Young’s mind. “You have to stay in the rhythm till it drys up. Commitments are the worst thing for musicians!” Even romantic commitments? asked Uhelszki. “All commitments.” Big laugh.

113_1356 smaller neil and jaan.JPG

Demme said he saw Young’s movie, Greendale, as a challenge to all American filmmakers.

On the terror of presenting Greendale as musical theater to Young arena fans, the songwriter claimed, “If you’re terrified then you know you’re on the right track. It’s good to be scared.”

On the arrival of the Crazy Horse’s muse, Young said, “It starts with a feeling that something’s changing. I hear this massive, distorted, crunching, hideous noise. And it makes me feel like I’m going home.” When he performs with Crazy Horse, he said, “it’s like being in subzero temperatures. It’s when you’re transcending.”

Noise: SXSW Everything is subject to change


Damn. It’s only Thursday and I have a hangover the size of Texas. It’s a warm, humid afternoon here in Austin, and Amy, my host just handed me her remedy: a vodka and carrot juice. I’ll piece together what happened yesterday. I ran into Oscar and Lars of the Gris Gris with Brian Glaze while wandering on 6th Street in downtown Austin. We went to Mr. Natural for yummy veggie chalupa before they went to Club DeVille to load in their equipment. Gris Gris is chillin’ in Texas until their tour next month. We won’t see them back in Oakland until May. They just played four shows in California with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who asked Gris Gris to tour with them ‘cause dig this: the Gris Gris is Karen O’s favorite band! Crazy.

I met some kids in line who came from Arizona to see Belle and Sebastian at Stubbs, a big outdoor venue, which was packed for the show. Nice harmonies. They did one song with melodica.

I had a $2 fajita, which was worth about 50 cents, at at Colorado River on 6th that would go out of business in two days if it were in the mission. They got Yelp.com in Austin? That’s my review. To be fair there are lots of great mexican food joints in Austin; even the taco truck on Red River is great. A couple next to me was figuring out who to see in the next two hours. I suggested they see Friends of Dean Martinez at Oslo. The guy said, “We just came from Oslo, so we don’t need to go back.” I found out he plays in We, described on their flyer as “cosmic biker rock from Oslo”. They’re playing at Emo’s on Saturday at 8:00PM. I’m so there (if I remember, and don’t get distracted). I felt justified in recommending Gris Gris to them instead, who were starting that very minute, so I rushed them off and finished what was edible of my snack.

I ran into Shane and Joe of Night after Night and was promptly handed the Rambler schedule. From the literature: “The Rambler is a 1980 Chevy Box van that transforms into a sound stage complete with backline and P.A. to make every band sound their best…” It’s parked at Ms. Beas for the likes of Erase Errata, Von Iva, ZZZ, and DMBQ.
Anyway, I got roped into going to Emo’s Annex with them to see an Oakland band called WHY? The first thing I noticed was there was no drummer and no bassist. Who then was playing the drums and bass? I walked up to the stage and saw that the three piece had all their limbs hard at work with one member playing bass drum with a trigger, snare, and xylophone at the same time—while singing harmonies. The guy in the middle was singing lead and playing a synth, sharing the cymbal duty with the xylophonist. The guy on the right was playing a Fender Rhodes and bass with pedals. I got respect for people who play bass with pedals. They had been together for four years and recently lost a member. I asked if it was the drummer. Answer: no, a guitarist. I highly recommend seeing them next time they play in the bay area. WHY? Because I like ‘em,

I ran into my band mate, Jason, in front of Exodus with a couple of girls from Austin. He had just seen the Plimsouls and raved about what a great set they played. They did a Creation song and a Kinks song, playing a 60’s rock and roll/garage set—a far cry from “A Million Miles Away.” If they play again this weekend, I’ll try and catch ‘em, otherwise, I’ll have to be happy with a CD of their live tapes.

I squeezed into Exodus to see the Go! Team, from England, and thought about leaving because their set up was taking so long, but no one else was leaving the packed house. Man, was I glad I stayed, because their set was awesome. With samples which included horns, bass, and other indescribable sounds, they used the best elements of hip-hop, disco and rock to captivate the audience with an infectious groove that made us dance. They had two drummers, and members switched up to play different instruments on certain songs. This was the best show yet. I’m gonna see ’em again on Friday. I highly recommend this band.

Afterward, I met up with the Cuts/Drunk horse entourage to go to an outdoor party on 1st and Red River. It was drizzly, kinda like Portland, but warm. We arrived right as the cops pulled the plug on the music and broke up the party, but not before I got my beer. Everyone I met there was really nice. We went to the Nervous Exits house and partied until about 5:00 in the morning, hence, the hangover. I missed their gig at Emo;s today at 1:00PM (sorry fellas), but I’ll be at the North Loop block party Friday at 1:00PM.

Tonight, the plan is to see Wolfmother, Peaches, She Wants Revenge, Giant Drag, and the Lashes at the Beauty Bar, then the Like at Elysium, and the Gossip at Emo’s Annex.

Everything is subject to change.

NOISE: SXSW B-Boys, B-Girls! Beastie Boys hand down words of wisdom from “big-ass chairs”


This blog schtuff is truly wicky wack because you feel like you can’t stop. And you don’t stop.

Speaking of which, here’s your update on the Beastie Boys conference at the SXSW HQ in downtown Austin — minutes, nay, seconds after it got out. There was a lot to love:

(1) The running jokes about Prince’s Purple Rain, Dolly Parton getting robbed at the Oscars (Mike D: “Someone was clearly the victim”), and corporate sponsorship (D: “We don’t use Reason anymore because it conflicts with our Pampers endorsement”).

(2) Their take on New Times/Clear Channel convergences, particularly between advertising and editorial and in terms of booking (they’re against it, by the way — and on a larger level, against the disappearance of mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar operations everywhere, with Ad-Rock going on a serious tangent wondering whether Clear Channel had anything to do with Scientology — “They’re very clear, right?”)

(3) The riffs on the furniture — “This is real Actors Studio type shit,” said D. “And what was with that intro music? The same person who picked out the music at the Oscars is probably the same person who picked out our intro music and picked out the chairs.”

(4) Sample clearances were a “bee-yatch” for the new movie because Mixmaster Mike was playing all kinds of great stuff live that weren’t on record.

(5) In answer to the question “What can a label do for the artists to help them and to make the artists work harder?”: “Toiletry kits,” sayeth D. “If you can give them a bullshit folding bicycle for Christmas that really does it,” MCA joked.

(6) What did they learn from Russell Simmons? “We learned how to order drinks properly,” said Ad-Rock. “How to get drinks in a timely fashion.”

(7) The line they wished they wrote themselves? “Big Daddy Kane said, ‘Put a quarter in your ass because you played yourself,'” offered MCA, who looked like Moses with his beard. In a big daddy sleazy chair.

113_1343 lite mat stubbs small.JPG
Make my day, scenester: Lines like this make me want to shoot myself.
The queue in front of the Matador Records showcase (with Mogwai,
Belle & Sebastian, the New Pornographers, Brightblack Morning Light,
and Jennifer O’Connor) at Stubb’s on Wednesday night.

NOISE: Well, we’re here and the SXSW action is just starting…


If it’s Wednesday, this must be SXSW… sorta. IMHO, the affair is off to a slow start though peeps at the last party I sloshed through were bemoaning missing the interactive part of the conference from March 10-14. Another theory floated around out there: The humongoid, pricey official SXSW dinner that all the industry titans attend is tonight and nothing must detract from the rubber chicken. Ahem.

But that’s OK — we’ll start slow, too. All the better to catch the 1,300 or so artists and bands that are performing at this year’s event. Efficiency geeks out there will be pleased to know that the speed of registration has greatly improved — gone are the long langorous lines that snaked through the second floor of the Austin Convention Center in years past. You got to know your neighbors, but the joint feels a lot more together, organizationally, in 2006, and the mood is catching. Last heard in the press room from a local radio reporter: “Do you want to interact with me or just talk?” Glad there’s a clear option.

At 1 pm, I was still bleary-eyed from the three-hour layover in Phoenix. It always seems like the SXSW air ferries will turn into party jets/soul planes any sec — what with the many musicians, writers, industry-types aboard — but the layover bit didn’t improve anyone’s mood. Nonetheless I dropped into the Riverboat Gamblers/Thrasher/Volcom Party but nada was going on — just the faraway music of a distant jukebox. So I moved on down the street to IUMA’s bash at Emo’s Annex (it’s like restaurant-going in SF; if everything’s quiet or too crowded on one front, just stroll to the next joint). Tim Mitchell of the Decoration (and IUMA, where he works with Noise Pop founder Kevin Arnold) knows how to throw a party! Empenadas, drink ticks, and music by the Herms (singing brainy songs and rocking a noisome organ; they’re ready for the release of their upcoming debut LP) and Phosphorescent (who were doing the zany, mile-long horn section thang as the singer sported strings of holiday lights). All lit up and it’s not even 2 pm.

Note to self: Folks seem psyched about the Beastie Boys’ press conference for their upcoming concert doc, Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That! And yo yo yo, the Beasties are giving a press conference shortly. An antidote to the doodness might be Pick Up the Mix, the doc on gay, lesbian, and transgendered hip-hop featuring the Deep Dickollective.

Otherwise, tonight, my untrained eye is roving over and considering Houston hip-hop showcases including sole Oaklandish type Balance; the Birdman Records showcase; Kris Kristofferson and Jessi Colter at the Austin Music Awards; Lesbians on Ecstasy with the Metrosexuals; the Castenets with Wooden Wand; Octopus Project; Field Music with Serena Maneesh and Of Montreal; Jose Gonzalez with Annie, the Presets, and Wolfmother (the hype was turned on full blast for them, with lonnnng-ass infomercials on cable last night); Absolutely Kosher showcase; Cut Chemist with Jean Grae; Austin’s Weird Weeds; Matador Showcase; Immortal Technique; King of France; the excellent Envelopes with the Ponys, the Grates, and standout non-“s” band Art Brut.

What does it all mean to you? I have no idea. But it sure sounds like I’ll be busy.

102_0294 deerhead smaller.JPG
Here, my deer: This comes with your chicken-fried steak
at the Broken Spoke honky-tonk in Austin.

NOISE: Welcome all music fans who dare to enter!


C’mon into the San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s new music blog. Yeah, we’re doing this now, and all the middle-aged journalists around the office are getting real jumpy. It may be the end of their careers as they know it. Yee-pee!

Anyway, expect very strange and perhaps wonderful things from this blog: pop, rock, rap, Turkish protest psych, gossip, mud-slinging, trash-talking, odes to Ali Farka Toure, block-rocking beats, oblique references to Santa Cruz noise-dealers like Zdrastvootie (last seen opening for Breezy Days Band at Hemlock Tavern and out with relatively new CD on Holy Mountain, cryptically titled 2), and even possibly news. Lots of sleepless nights. ‘Tis the season because SXSW is right around the corner, and guess who’s going to be there?

Yours truly, the blogging fools at the Guardian.

Get a room — or a hospital bed: Reluctant to miss a minute at the Gossip show at last fall’s CMJ Music Marathon.