Austin City Limits (2009) Day 2 Photos and Review!

7 10 2009

WORDS: Q. Manning

You’d be hard-pressed to imagine a way that Day Two of ACL Fest could have been different from Day One. Whereas the day before had everyone putting on sunblock and buying cowboy hats/sunglasses (I know I had to), Day Two created an ocean of umbrellas and ponchos.

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After the first day, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the supplies necessary to brave ACL Fest. I headed to Wal-Mart at 5:30am and grabbed a new backpack, hand sanitizer, Febreeze, gum, band-aids for my newly acquired blisters and everything else I could think of. I was pretty damn proud of my ability to plan and off we headed to the festival.

But all my planning was for naught, as I forgot the one thing needed most: the poncho. We waked our way to the festival, or in my case, hobbled my way, and as we crossed the Colorado River/Ladybird Lake, all you could see on both sides were rain clouds and drizzling. But we had hope things would let up, and onward we soldiered.

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We started the festival with an interview with the Suckers, a progressive rock-band based out of Brooklyn, New York who played 2009 SXSW here in Austin. The band only has out a single EP of 4 songs, but is currently in the studio finishing up some new material for a full LP release, but more on that during Sunday’s coverage when the band plays.

After the interview, the rain let up and we were able to get out to the Grizzly Bear show at the Dell stage. The crowd was excited with seeing the band away from the bad weather as the sun had finally started to peak its way through the thick quilt of clouds. Grizzly Bear played a solid set, being forced a little back from the front of the stage due to the rain. Grizzly Bear played SXSW already and apparently rocked the house, but this time around, some of the pure musicianship from the album just didn’t translate. Maybe it was the potential of rain or maybe it was the open-air format, but when the mud settled, it felt like some of their magic was lost.

Grizzly Bear

By this time, the sun had come out and we were thinking today would end up being great. The rain wasn’t too bad to have destroyed the landscape and Paul and I were both comfortable taking photos and not being worried about our equipment getting destroyed. Flogging Molly was the next stop for us and the energy and anticipation of the crowd made the air crackle. Or that’s what I thought it was, because about 5 minutes before the band started, the rain went from a drizzle to a torrent and we just couldn’t risk the equipment.

To the chagrin of all in attendance, we had to push our way back out of the crowd and stand on the edge of everything where the band did their thing. From the first note, the crowd was going and many folks there were warning people to go ahead and put their umbrellas away because once the pit started, all rules were off. Big words, but the actions didn’t quite match. Even the diehard who were willing to let the music move them found their spirits a little soggy. But the band never let up, probably because they’re used to this sort of weather in their native Ireland.

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We headed back to the Press area to escape the rain and hopefully wait things out. Luckily for us, a media outlet didn’t show up and their tent was available for some of us to hang out in. After about an hour we checked the weather and it just wasn’t going to let up for the rest of the day, so we made the call to leave for the day and see how things would be the next day. For my purposes, I could watch coverage on Hulu and see some of the bands we wanted to cover. Unfortunately for Paul, photos of his computer screen don’t have quite the same impact.

As for the bands later that night, only Ghostland Observatory was being broadcast on Hulu. Watching the show online was a much lesser experience, but some of GO’s patented badassery still came through. Austin music fans have no doubt seen this distinct duo, but it was nice to think of all the exposure the band would get from Hulu and ACL itself. Electronica fans know who they are, but what about fans of Pearl Jam or Flogging Molly? Now they’d get a chance and Ghostland didn’t let Austin down. Frontman Aaron Behren stalked around the stage like a pro, his high pitched, Freddie Mercury-laden voice echoing throughout the park.

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Right before I hopped into the shower to wash off the funk of the day, Paul told me he had a 103 degree fever and wouldn’t be able to shoot on Day Three. Now I was going to be writing and photo-documenting the event.

All I could hope for was a better climate than Saturday, otherwise, things were going to get really tricky, really fast.



The Postmarks at Spaceland

6 10 2009

Fitting their 50’s style dream-pop infused with swirls of fuzzy psychedelia, I couldn’t think of a more suitable venue for The Postmarks to kick off their tour in celebration of their new album “Memoirs at the End of the World.”

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Although front woman Tim Yehezkely may carry the name of a male, there’s absolutely nothing masculine about her. Taking the stage before her in a tiny white babydoll dress, black boots and a big Alice-in-Wonderland-like black bow in her hair, the petite songstress had infatuated every male in the room with her little girl like presence.

If you’re looking for a performance doused with high energy and any sign of emotion, you will not find that in Yehezkely’s live set. However her band can throw down some pretty mean instrumentals, full of life. Although a bit more harmonious on audio, Yehezkely is very monotone and detached on stage. At times it almost seemed like she was stoned or something. Not saying that it’s a bad thing, but if you’re familiar with The Postmarks, it’s almost like her trademark sound — and it absolutely works.

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At times Yehezkely sang as though she were a four-year-old sharing with you a new song she had learned with her 50’s “doo wop doo wops” and shy persona. It was all very cute and totally worked in her favor. I bet lots of dudes in the audience felt like a total perv or pedophile though!

As for the band, they totally fuckin’ kicked ass. Guitarist, Christopher Moll thrashed out like he was on some crazy hallucinogens, while drummer Jonathan Wilkins banged out some pretty smooth, and mean beats on the drums. As they closed up with their encore, the two jammed out into some chaotic punk rock madness. It was righteous! Adding to the psychedelic fuzz bombs and warped out electro-fits, Jeff Wagner was superb on the keys. A bit under the shadow from the rest, Brian Hill handled some pretty smooth basslines, but like Yehezkely, is very mellow.

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As for the cute and sexy, Yehezkely, I don’t think she really knows how to play the guitar. As I watched her fingers each time she picked up the guitar, I saw all but two chords played with the slowest of motions. Not to mention the poor girl had some major problems during the last minute of their encore getting her guitar to work, (or turn off). Thank goodness Moll and Wilkins diverted our attention with their insane thrash out. My ears were totally fuzzrocked well into the following day’s afternoon.

Would I check them out again? Yep.

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Brookville at Spaceland

6 10 2009

In support of their September 29 release “Broken Lights,” Brookville joins Unfiltered Records labelmates, The Postmarks, on a five week tour US tour. Opening up for The Postmarks this past Friday, Oct. 2 at Spaceland, Brookville played a totally engaging and at times comical set.

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When I first took a listen to Brookville’s new album “Broken Lights,” I wasn’t digging it at first listen. Although I try to keep an open ear to all walks of music, I tend to lean towards the edgy, eccentric and high energized musings of rock n’ roll. Needless to say, after seeing their amazing live set, I’m now a total fan.

Towards the second song of their set, front-man Andy Chase got the crowd laughing. Apparently a suspicious hair had jumped from the mic and into his mouth. “Somebody left a hair in the mic, and it some how warped it’s way into my mouth. And it’s not a pube,” shared Chase. Whether he was poking fun or not at the skinny-long haired rockers (Endless Hallway) who graced the stage with their interesting performance beforehand, it made us all laugh pretty fuckin’ hard.

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Aside from being quite the hottie, Chase has this soulfully alluring voice that can easily make its way to any woman’s heart. Talented on both the guitar and keyboards, Chase would move from one instrument to the other like a true smooth-operator while producing the loveliest of vocals.

As I stood next to a variety of females, swaying their hips as they gazed towards chase as though he were a high school crush, I could hear one dude next to me say, “This shit is straight up love-making music.” Take note men, this is straight up love making music. Go to a Brookville show and you’ll definitely see the ladies.

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Off their new album “Broken Lights,” I truly enjoyed the lullaby-like track “Dreaming On.” Opening up with a series of tings and tangs and soft xylophone melodies, “Dreaming On” is full of hypnotizing bass lines and dreamy guitar chords, but it surely didn’t put me to sleep.

Closing up with “Tell Her You Love Her,” also off their new album “Broken Lights,” this song is the jammy jam, and I say that in an R&B-kind-of way. Jumping back on the keyboards, Chase harmonized into the mic with a soulful tone. By far a song you can get your groove on to.

All in all, Brookville put on a very pleasing show.

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Anna Ternheim at the Troubadour – Show Review

5 10 2009

When I first got a hold of Swedish songstress, Anna Ternheim‘s new album “Leaving On A Mayday,” I though she had an exquisite, delicate voice that flowed so smoothly with the soothing aural landscapes of “Leaving On A Mayday.” Last Thursday, Oct. 1st she played a show at the Troubadour with Asobi Seksu and Swedish friends, Loney, Dear.

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In a way, Ternheim reminds me of Dido, where her soft voice can ride on delicate orchestrations of sound or more energized dance induced beats. It was quite the treat to have Loney, Dear sit in on her set and lend us their awesome instrumentals. In the same turn, Ternheim is more than apt to carry on a stellar show on her own. With a voice like an angel, clear as crystal, I loved that you could still hear her accent through her singing. Many singers with accents tend to cover it up when singing English lyrics. I think its soft presence made her performance all the more alluring.

In celebration of her new album “Leaving On A Mayday,” Ternheim performed a variety of songs from this must-buy album. Some singers sound like vocal perfection on audio, what truly lies beneath is revealed when you see them performing live (assuming there’s no Brittany Spears-like lip-synching). Ternheim blew me away! She appeared to sound identical, if not better than her studio albums.

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Although I enjoyed her entire performance, a couple songs that stood out for me were “What Have I Done,” “Summer Rain,” and oldie-but-a-goodie, “My Secret.” With a sexy little dance beat, “What Have I Done,” had the audience engaged in a hypnotic-groove. “Summer Rain” was quite the charming duet with its country undertones as Loney, Dear’s, Malin Ståhlberg, joined Ternheim in an uplifting duet that was all smiles for the two songstresses. To close up her set, a fan amongst the crowd had requested she play “My Secret,” Ternheim was impressed that he was familiar with the single that came out in 2005 and proceeded to make her exit with this heartfelt song.

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Asobi Seksu at the Troubador – Show Review

5 10 2009

Two man bands seem to be all the hype of the late, but only a few select performers can pull it off. In the case of Brooklyn duo, Asobi Seksu, they played a high-energy show last Thursday at the Troubador, alongside Anna Ternheim and Loney, Dear. I wouldn’t quite call them a duo though. And I don’t know why “others” have referred to them as such. They’re a full-on kick-ass band with a guitarist, drummer, bassist, and an adorable Japanese doll by the name of Yuki Chikudate, who womans the vocals and keyboards for the band. Let me tell you, standing barely 5ft. tall in heels, that lil girl maybe tiny in stature, but she has the vocals of a GIGANTOR. Although her sweet melodic voice can be oh-so-delicate, homegirl can also thrash out with the best of them: both on the keyboards and her vocals.

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Lead guitarist, James Hanna, is a fierce guitar player. As hard is it is to take your eyes off the cute and sexy, Chikudate, Hanna’s energized stage presence pulls you in like a magnet. That dude can shred the guitar and has the raddest movement. Drummer Larry Gorman can keep a slow and steady roll or whip out the insanely chaotic drum lines, while bassist Billy Pavone, stands tall as he handles the bass with such smooth motives.

Very moving, very psychedelic, very energized …  very fuckin’ cool. Check out Asobi Seksu’s live performance, you won’t be disappointed.

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PS – Did you know “Asobi Seksu” is colloquial Japanese for “casual sex”, or more literally “playful sex” ? All the more reason to enjoy this thrashing, yet soft band.

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Loney, Dear at the Troubadour – Show Review

5 10 2009

Holy shit! Did your mic stand just hit me!? Yep. As Anna Ternheim’s set finished last Thursday at the Troubadour with Loney, Dear sitting in as her band, their mic stand fell from the stage and landed on my arm as they were clearing the stage. Thank goodness it didn’t touch the camera! As sweet as they are, front man Emil Svanängen and Malin Ståhlberg totally apologized and made sure I was okay. No harm done. Was kinda funny though.

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Although I didn’t stay for their entire set I did catch a healthy amount of songs and was totally impressed. Their music is just straight up lovely and skillfully orchestrated. Not only does Svanängen have a unique fluid voice, but he was quite the comedian in between songs sharing with us his Scientology experiences here in LA.  Poor guy’s now on their mailing list!

I was engaged by the entire band as a whole with the music that they produce. It was all just so beautiful and full of emotion, as though you could feel each individual instrument flow through your body. And the dude on the keyboards was awesome!

When Svanängen performed “Ignorant Boy,” I as well as the entire audience was in complete awe. For being such a simple song with hardly any lyrics it’s probably one of the most powerfully emotive. It radiates this bittersweet feeling that you can’t help but feel pleasantly affected by.

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Next time Loney, Dear is in town I’ll be sure to check them again—only this time I’ll make sure I can stay for their entire set.

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2009 Vans Downtown Showdown Photos

29 09 2009

The Vans Downtown Showdown went off this past Saturday at Paramount Studios, Hollywood. The courses were sick! Not to mention I felt like I was back in Brooklyn. Vans Downtown Showdown 09 - 05

A total of $85,000 was given away to the top rippers and some sweet guitars as the awards. Get the full results at

1st – Foundation ($30,ooo)
2nd – Blind
3rd – Toy Machine (5 years in a row in the top three)

Girl’s Little China Bank
1st –  Zared Bassett (Zoo York)

Flip’s Extremely Sorry
1st – Jani Laitiala (Blind)

Creature’s Hesh Cross
1st – Vince Del Valle (Black Label)

Black Label’s Drunk Tank
1st -Nick Merlino (Foundation)

Top Am: Nick Merlino (Foundation)

Top Pro: Jani Laitala (Blind)