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.

ACL Day 2 Gandersman - 29

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.

ACL Day 2 Gandersman - 30

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.

ACL Day 2 Gandersman - 25

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.

ACL Day 2 Gandersman - 16

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.




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.

ACL Day 1 Gandersman - 039

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.

ACL Day 1 Gandersman - 067

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.

ACL Day 1 Gandersman - 078

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.”

The Postmarks at Spaceland - 04

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.

The Postmarks at Spaceland - 23

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.

The Postmarks at Spaceland - 12

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.

The Postmarks at Spaceland - 05 The Postmarks at Spaceland - 19 The Postmarks at Spaceland - 18

The Postmarks at Spaceland - 30 The Postmarks at Spaceland - 32 The Postmarks at Spaceland - 33

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.

Asobi Seskun at Troubador - 14

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.

Asobi Seskun at Troubador - 08

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.

Asobi Seskun at Troubador - 03 Asobi Seskun at Troubador - 13 Asobi Seskun at Troubador - 15

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.

Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 09

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.

Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 06

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.

Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 01 Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 02 Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 03

Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 10 Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 05 Lonely, Dear at Troubador - 16

“Summer Close” Photos by Jeremy & Claire Weiss/Day 19

15 09 2009

Cruising though San Francisco the same weekend as I am, swing by the Medicine Agency on Sept. 19 for a photo show celebrating the spirit of summer. “Summer Close” a set of photographs by Jeremy & Claire Weiss (AKA Day 19).

©Jeremy & Claire Weiss/Day19.

©Jeremy & Claire Weiss/Day19.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Jeremy and Claire Weiss are a husband-and-wife photographic team, internationally known as Day19. Their work confuses what can be viewed as fine-art, commercial or snapshot photography, with some of their greatest shots living a life as each of the above and holding up to the same quality as their large body of work.


Outside Lands Festival 2009 Day 3

3 09 2009

Outside Lands 2009 Day 3 - 25Considering we didn’t go to bed till 6a.m. the night before, we got off to a very late start on Day Three of our Outside Lands experience. I woke up at 11:30a.m. and was super bummed because I was going to miss Big Light. Be sure to check out these jammin’ indie rockers, as they are quite a treat,

We caught the last few songs of Matt and Kim and they are such a fun two-person band. Kim had a perma grin as she banged away on the drums. They closed up with their hit song “Daylight” and got the whole crowd bouncing up and down like a bunch of nerds.

Next up and who I was waiting to see all weekend long, THE DEAD WEATHER! And might I add, the cold gloomy weather surrounding us couldn’t be any more suiting. This band has the sound, look, and powerful stage presence that every rock band should exude. Alison Mosshart owned the crowd before her with her gyrating Patti Smith-like movement and fierce howls. When Jack White rose from the drums to take the lead, the crowd went nuts as though God had come out from the dark San Francisco fog. The Dead Weather = A-Grade Rock Star.

We then went back to the dance party at the Heinieken Experience where Amp Live was throwing down the old school beats and bass. The shit was hot and induced our next wind of Outside Lands energy. Energized and ready to dance some more, we wen to check out MIA. After seeing her not-so-great set at Coachella we really hoped for something stellar. Easy on the fog horns and high on the energy, MIA definitely redeemed herself. However, her new song “Born Free” was kind of a downer even with the heavy punk undertone. Unfortunately, it also slowed down the pace for “Paper Planes.” Either the sound died a good half or she was just not feelin’ it, because “Paper Planes” got nobody moving. Regardless, she played a killer set except for the last two songs and damn were her dancers on fuckin’ point! Those two ginger-headed twins, those boys can cut shit up!

We closed the night up with an amazing set by Band of Horses. Song after song the band just played an inspiring set. It was great way to end our Outside Lands experience. As for Tenacious D., we opted out.