Austin City Limits (2009) Day 1 Photos and Review!

6 10 2009

WORDS: Q. Manning

Day One of ACL was about as picturesque as you could imagine. The sun was out, the grass was lush and the party had started, because, when you get down to it, that’s all any music festival really is. Great food, music, a sea of cowboy hats and and scantily clad genders of your choice.

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We arrived at the festival a little later than we’d planned, not accounting for the massive amounts of traffic in downtown Austin. We hopped on the shuttles and arrived at Zilker Park just in time to head over to the Austin Ventures stage to see The Parlor Mob tear up the stage. I’m a fan of 70’s style rock and these guys brought it. From the wailing vocals to the pounding, tribal drumming, these guys at times invoked the very essence of Led Zeppelin but infused with a modern rock sensibility. I walked away from the set a fan.

The Parlor Mob

Next up we headed over to The Walkmen at the XBOX360 stage. Braving the Austin sun with collared shirts and slacks, the band opened up with a greeting of “Hello music lovers!” and proceeded to infuse the festival with some much needed folk-inspired indie rock. Frontman Paul Maroon may look like Captain America but his voice is a little bit Bob Dylan meets Black Francis with the phrasings of Jeff Tweedy. Their music was infectious, rousing the crowd, and all that was compounded when the guys brought a great horn section to come out and accompany them. Like with The Parlor Mob, the sound wasn’t anything new, but it was definitely something I enjoyed.

The Walkmen

Phoenix was one of the bands everyone in the festival had been buzzing about and the crowd at the large AMD stage was massive, forcing me to hang back on the periphery and enjoy sitting on the soft grass. The French band brought their particular brand synth infused rock to the crowd and the attendees loved it. My exposure to the band had been limited to only their most from their last album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” and I’ll admit to being a tad disappointed by the set. Much of the energy and style I’d heard in their studio recordings was missing, though I could see I was in the minority.


After Phoenix, we hung out waiting for John Legend to perform and the sounds of Raphael Saadiq came wafting in from the XBOX360 stage across the park. Saadiq’s music was wonderful, classic R&B with a heavy bass line and amazing horn section, he moved the crowd gathered around his stage and most of the people waiting for Legend alongside me.

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Legend started his set by moving along the walkway that bisects the crowds at the larger ACL Fest stages, telling the crowd to “Emancipate yourself!” and went into his set. Never having been a huge John Legend fan, this was my first real exposure to much of his catalog and I found the experience to be similar to what Legend wore on stage that day – safe and toothless. Even his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” was lacking in soul and emotion. When he started I wasn’t a fan and when it was all said and done, my opinion hadn’t been changed.

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But then came one of the biggest surprises of the entire ACL Fest and a band that was much anticipated: supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. I knew Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters & Nirvana fame was in the group, but I wasn’t sure to what capacity. Was he singing? Playing guitar? He was playing drums and the power everyone first heard when Nirvana hit the scene was here in spades.

Them Crooked Vultures

Even more interesting were the other members of this supergroup: Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass & keyboard with Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. Helping out was QOTSA guitarist Alain Johannes on guitar.

Them Crooked Vultures

If I had to compare the band to another band, I’d have to say Queens of the Stone Age, but more for their pure rocking rather than the vocals of Homme, who didn’t quite sound the way I expected, with his voice often taking on a David Byrne/Talking Heads quality. Most songs play with time signature and cadence, making most songs unpredictable. Everything seems to be driven by Grohl’s power drumming which had the crowd moving and gyrating. Coupled with Jones’ bass lines, the best description for this collection of musicians has to be “churning rock and roll.”

Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures are relentless and tight. Unfortunately, they don’t have an album available, meaning the great songs I heard will have to stay part of my memory rather than in my iTunes. Hopefully the guys will either get into the studio and record or release whatever they’ve done. Right now, the world needs some solid, true rock & roll.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Alas, moving over to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs after Them Crooked Vultures was a let-down. Like many people, the songs “Maps” resonated with me as just a well-crafted song. But I’d never been able to connect with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a live performance didn’t change that. The vocals for lead singer Karen O needed to be cranked. This is odd considering the subdued music coming from the band. Each song I kept wanting the band to bring it, but it never happened. Karen O puts on a great stage show, however, with some truly fantastic stage presence. If you went in a fan, it was probably great to hear your favorite songs live, but for someone who was wanting to be impressed, the end result was lackluster.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

And such ended the first day of ACL Fest. The sun was hot, but the situation was tolerable. Day Two, however, would be a much different story.



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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Jay Reatard’s Band Quits On Him!

6 10 2009

jay-reatardYep! You read the headline correctly. Apparently Jay Reatard and his band must have had some sort of falling out! This is what he tweeted this morning:

“”Band quit! Fuck them! They are boring rich kids who can’t play for ahit anyways … Say hello to your ugly and boring wifes opps I mean lifes guys suck it.”

Well, that kind of sucks, I rather liked his burly bandmates. Good news for other thrashing musicians seeking work though. Now that Jay Reatard’s bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes have quit the band, Reatard is currently looking for new band members. Another good thing: No upcoming tour dates have been canceled.

I’m very interested to see who will replace the two and exactly why Pope and Billy quit the band. I’ve heard some stories from other musicians who have toured with Reatard and he can be quite the chaotic handful. But hey, it’s all fun and games isn’t it?

Wanna play in Jay Reatards band. Here’s his email. He gave it out in a tweet this evening. If you got the shredful goods, bring it.

“So who wants to see just how terrible it is to play in my band . I mean its so so hard I promise its the worst 🙂”

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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Historics Cover Sub Society in Classic Homage to the Golden Age of Skateboarding

6 10 2009

Historics have a brand new video out for their cover of Sub Society’sA Lot Less.” The track is off their just-released debut album, “Strategies for Apprehension.


The clip is a tribute to the original Matt Hensley part in “H-Street’s Hocus Pokus” video (1989) which features the original Sub Society version. It was directed by Patrick O’Dell and features the following skaters: John Rattray, Alex Olson, Braydon Szafranski, Andrew Allen, Heath Kirchart, Mike Rusczyk, Chris Pastras, Clint Peterson, Clark Hassler, Kevin Spanky Long, & Matt Hensley

Pretty sweet shit I suggest you check out!

Download a FREE mp3 of the track “Skin Orders” here, and peep the video for “Taverns” here.

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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