Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shut Up And Listen To... Red Fang

No matter how many parties and showcases I tried to squeeze in last week at SxSW, I still managed to miss a band I heard a ton of awesome things about: Portland's Red Fang. These guys sound like the missing link between The Melvins and Queens of the Stone Age, with a laconic Sword influence thrown in. I haven't been able to stop listening to their self-titled debut all goddamn weekend.

Here's a video for Red Fang's "Prehistoric Dog."

...And a bonus video of them performing "Sharks" in Austin.

Just shut up and listen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

SxSW '09: The Sights and Sounds, Pt. II

Here are some snapshots of notable shows I saw last week... For the full set, click here.

The Bronx at the Brooklyn Vegan Party / Emo's
The Bronx

Mariachi El Bronx / Red 7 Patio
Mariachi El Bronx

Mariachi El Bronx

Kylesa at Full Metal Texas / Emo's Annex

Hull at The End Showcase / Ale House


Earthless with J Mascis/ Habana Calle 6
Earthless + J Mascis

Year Long Disaster / Red 7
Year Long Disaster

Year Long Disaster

Tricky/ Austin Music Hall


Devo / Austin Music Hall

Gallows/ Latitude 30

Blower at the HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards / Red 7

Mario/Earthless at the HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards / Red 7

Triple 6 Reunion at the HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards / Red 7
Triple 6 Reunion

Bang Camaro / Beauty Bar
Bang Camaro

Priestess at the HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards / Red 7

Explosions In The Sky / Auditorium Shores
Explosions in the Sky

PJ Harvey & John Parish / Stubb's
PJ & John

PJ & John

SxSW '09: The Sights and Sounds, Pt. I

I'm slowly getting my hearing back and remembering what it's like to fall asleep without a beer buzz. South by Southwest '09 is officially over. And though some memories remain a little fuzzy, I've jotted down a couple of highlights from those warm days past in Austin.


After a recount, I can confirm that I caught 38 bands' sets in four days; a breakdown can be found below. Metallica, however, was not among them. Going into SxSW, haters (myself included) speculated that their set would only last 20 minutes and retweeted rumors that their intimate Friday night performance at Stubb's would be impossible to get into. But much to everyone's delight, the lines weren't that hellish—and more importantly, the band went old school. The well-oiled machine played for almost 90 minutes and even threw the vintage cover "Breadfan" into their encore.

Do I wish I tried to get in rather than deciding to see Tricky and Devo at the Austin Music Hall (halfway across downtown) instead? Sure. Maybe I'll check Metallica out when they play MSG in the fall, but I still don't think I could ever absolve them of their sins against metal.

Am I glad I kept my SxSW tradition of seeing acts I'd never normally check out otherwise? Of course. Devo were really interesting to watch, especially considering the only songs of theirs I knew going in were "The Girl You Want" and "Whip It." I kept thinking about how avant garde they seemed—more than 20 years after they came out.


Overall, this year's SxSW didn't include the most top-shelf lineup I've ever seen, nor did it provide me with any transcendent musical experiences. Still, it was great seeing so many artists I like and people I know in one warm, sunny place that smells of BBQ and Lone Stars. It seems that there's no such thing as having a bad time in Austin, so I'm pretty certain I'll be back next year.

Brooklyn Vegan Party:
1. Young Widows - The tightest I've seen them yet. Can't wait to check them out next week at Europa.
2. The Bronx - Great set as always.
Evening Showcases:
3. Worst.Band.Ever - I seriously don't remember the name of this band because I blocked them out, but c'mon, a Flying V and a horn section do not belong in the same band with a mousy chick on a keyboard. Ever. Done.
4. Mariachi El Bronx - Though I don't think I'd hire them for my quinceanera, the Bronx's Mexican outlet was fun to watch. And all the songs were still about blow.
5. Blower - If you like Detroit rock and have an appreciation for platform boots, Blower is the band for you.
6. Arabrot - Recommended to me by Diane Kamikaze, these Norwegians would have been far more enjoyable if they kept their shirts on.
7. Iron Age - Part of a TXHC show at Red 7, these locals were truly throwback crossover. D.R.I. would be proud.

Quack! Media Party
1. Dios Malo - Nothing like some local shoe-gazers to start off my morning. Thanks for the drink tickets, Al!
Magadee Records Party
2. Brothers and Sisters - Honestly, I couldn't tell you much about this acoustic country band because I was too focused on my Batter Blaster pancakes. Beer with breakfast? Why not.
Kerrang!/Guitar Hero Party
3. Rolo Tomossi - Screamo British invasion
Full Metal Texas
4. Kylesa - Fucking killed it.
5. Skeletonwitch - Old-school thrash + circle pits
Quack! Media
6. The Hold Steady - Great way to end my afternoon.
Evening Showcases:
7. Hull - Neurosis-influenced Brooklyn heshers
8. Dead Confederate - Southern gothic rock at its finest.
9. Ancestors - Tee Pee's latest droning stoners.
10. Chairlift - Inspired pop from Canada
11. Annihilation Time - Frenetic, explosive and angry, these guys are the new Black Flag.
12. Freeway - Though the State Property mainstay stuck with mostly new Rhymesayers material, I almost had a heart attack when he busted out into "Roc the Mic." Is Beanie in jail?
13. Early Man- Neanderthal metal

Metal BBQ /AAM Party
1. Earthless with J Mascis - The greatest post-Iron Works gig ever. Let the meat coma commence.
Evening Showcases:
2. Year Long Disaster - It always makes me happy to see Rich Mullins in Austin.
3. Datarock - I'm fairly certain this is an Andy Samberg/Lonely Island joke.
4. Tricky - So boring, so disappointing.
5. Devo - Amazing video and live show, but I still haven't joined the cult.
6. Cursive - It was so hard to tear myself away from this intimate gig, but I'm glad I left, because...
7. Gallows - ...catching Gallows was the best decision I made all night. They blew me away, but thankfully didn't kick me in the face.

HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards
1. Blower - Celebrating their one-year anniversary as a live band, it was fitting that Blower kicked things off.
2. Year Long Disaster - Played a totally different stoner-friendly set from the night before. Sweet.
3. Earthless - Fun as always, I can watch Mario play all day.
4. Black Water Rising - New York's contenders for the hard rock throne.
5. Bang Camaro - These guys were literally playing around the corner from HT's affair. How could I not show up? Glad I did.
6. Priestess - A great way to close out the Doobies.
Evening Showcases:
7. Explosions in the Sky - A mellow night at Auditorium Shores with a fireworks climax. Couldn't have asked for a better show.
8. PJ Harvey & John Parish - Glad I got to be in PJ's presence, even if it was for the last few songs of the set.
9. The Knux - Not as awesome as I thought they'd be.
10. Amplified Heat - Austin fuzz rockers brought out the local crowd.
11. Broken Teeth - Holy shit, Jason McMaster's new band (yeah, it's the guy from Dangerous Toys) was really good.

Monday, March 23, 2009

SxSW Recap

Before I head out to the airport to resume my life in brick-cold NYC, I wanted to share a quick breakdown of my recent Austin activities.

First off, the HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards were a triumphant success. All the bands who played—including Year Long Disaster, Blower, Graveyard BBQ, Black Water Rising, Earthless and Priestess—were absolutely fantastic. And some notable locals like Nick Oliveri, Kings X's Doug Pinnick and the Sword guys showed up to party (and in the latter's case, it was a chance to pick up the world's only award you can smoke out of).

The Sword Accepting Their Doobie Award
The Sword Accepting Their Doobie

Bobby Black Joins Blower Onstage

In four days, I managed to watch 37 bands play and saw Earthless the most, at three shows. I lost track of how many beers I drank, but I'd say the ratio of freebies to actual drinks paid for was 4:1, easy. And then there were the Flaming Dr. Pepper shots. There are also almost 300 snapshots on Flickr commemorating the sights and sounds of SxSW, with more short videos to come.

Iron Works Combo Platter

I also ate sausage for four days straight, mostly of the smoked jalapeno and cheddar variety. C'mon, can you think of a better snack than that to watch Bang Camaro with? I did miss migas, but we'll see if I can do anything about that at the airport.

Bang Camaro
Bang Camaro

That said, I wanted to give a shout out to Bobby Black & everyone at HT, Merilee 666, Doug Didgit, Mel & Patrick, Diane Kamikaze, Vegas Price, Pot Star, Sonya, Aaron Bush and all my favorite locals for making the trip a fantastic one. See y'all next year!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SxSW: Day One

My ears are still ringing from last night.

Even though I didn't rage into the wee hours of the night on Wednesday, the first day of the SxSW's music festival, I still managed to put in a solid 12 hours of partying and loud music. Partying really is such hard work.

After scooping up my badge and getting a breakfast burger at my beloved Casino El Camino, I was off to the Brooklyn Vegan day party at Emo's (and no, that irony was not lost on me) to catch a spectacular lineup of Annihilation Time, Young Widows and The Bronx. Unfortunately—if that's even the proper term—I missed Annihilation Time as it conflicted with a previously scheduled smoke session. Oh well, they'll definitely be around this week for more shows. I did, however, made sure to catch the spectacular Young Widows who were absolutely awing with their tight AmRep-infuenced sound. They were followed by a sweaty set from The Bronx, who did not disappoint.

Young Widows

The Bronx

No matter how intense the Bronx's set, it definitely seemed like everyone couldn't wait to check out their alter ego faux band—Mariachi El Bronx. But art always seems to come at a price, so I had to suffer through one of the worst bands I've ever seen (seriously who mixes a keyboard, a horn section AND a Flying V?) to watch the mariachi explosion. Happily, Mariachi El Bronx were a fun to watch and not an utter riff on Mexican culture (that is, if you don't count the songs dedicated to registered sex offenders and the one track comparing the similarities between Jesus Christ and Pablo Escobar).

Mariachi El Bronx

Though it seemed most of Austin was determined to catch Jesus Lizards' David Yow jam with The Dicks at Austin Music Hall, I met up with HT's Bobby Black and Pot Star to watch the most exciting rock n roll band in years—BLOWER! If you like Kiss or Turbonegro, there's absolutely no reason for you to miss them when they open the [HIGH TIMES Doobie Awards ||CLICK HERE] on Saturday at Red 7.


From there, Diane Kamikaze of WFMU (my official partner in crime) and I bounced between a ton of clubs on Red River seeing everyone from Oslo's Arabrot to Texas' own Iron Age—a young hardcore band more reminiscent of old school crossover than anything suffixed with "-core."

Iron Age

From there, it was time for my last session of the night. After all, I've got to be at four parties today: Alternative Press', Quack! Media, Full Metal Texas and Maggadee Records—all before 5 pm.

Bands Seen: 7
Beers Consumed: 7
Beers Paid For: 2
Smoke Sessions: 3 1/2

Pray for Mojo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I [Banged] Camaro

Bang Camaro

What was the worst thing about seeing Bang Camaro last Friday? The fact that I've still got their hook-laden hard rock anthems stuck in my head the following Tuesday.

The best part? Everything else. Not only did the Boston-based band bring it to Santos Party House last weekend, but they also made sure to bring their entire arsenal of singers with them. Before BC dragged several friends and fans up onstage, there were nine—friggin' NINE—vocalists on stage delivering the goods.

And, if somehow, you were bored despite the fist-pumping hits and plentiful power chords, you could pass the time inventing nicknames for the gallery of singers. Some of the names my companion and I came up with: Meatloaf, Affliction, Jonah Hill, Shamus O'Malley, Lil Bow Wow, Ted Nugent, Chelsea Lately (one dude looked like a frequent panelist on said show), and John Norris.

Further proof of their rock skills below (thanks, Michael!). The only thing that can cure this Bang Camaro loop in my head is a week-long music bender in Austin. SxSW, here I come!

Friday, March 13, 2009

SxSW Flashbacks

The first time I attended SxSW, the mega-music fest in Austin, TX, I was a 19-year-old intern at High Times and was flown down to produce a streetwear fashion show as part of the magazine's annual party. I had no idea what I was in store for. Between party planning, model fittings, self-medicated tangents enhanced by the dozens of bats circling the high-rise hotel party room—plus seeing acts like Clutch, Wesley Willis, Iggy Pop, Karma to Burn and Red Aunts—I was definitely not ready for the madness (not to mention the following week's Comparative Political Systems midterm I hadn't studied for).

Over the years, I've gotten the SxSW experience down to a science. Being familiar with the 6th Street clubs and knowing all the fun locals usually helps; and it's absolutely crucial to have a forcible partner in crime. Enter Merilee 666, aka Zombie Kitten. Together, our bitch powers exponentially strengthened and our ability to talk our way into—and, sometimes, out of—situations created a legacy and more than a few funny stories.

Granted, I've probably forgotten more crap that I've done at SxSW than I actually remember, which is sometimes for the best. But before my memory's shot for good, I wanted to count down my Tex-ass adventures. Some are goofy, a lot are medicament related, and then there were a few really f'd up things that happened—like Merilee jumping into traffic on the then-undeveloped South Congress Ave. and giving herself a concussion—that just didn't seem right fitting under "awesome." But since she's the one that reminded me of that day, fuck it, read about it under #5. And please, I know it's hard, but don't trip on all the names I dropped. (I may be an asshole, but at least I'm self-aware.)

Of course, I'll be doing it all again this year... and blogging/Tweeting about it. So before I get caught up in this year's whirlwind, here's my run-down of SxSW moments from years past:

Mastodon @ Town Lake/Austin

1. Meeting Mastodon & Kicking Them Out - For a while there, Merilee and I toyed with the idea of starting a company called C.W.I. And though we could never get a good business plan going for it, we knew our core mission had something to do with tray wares and role reversal. Enter Mastodon's Brent Hinds, who was one of our earliest adapters. He, in turn, invited the rest of his great unwashed band to our hotel room for a demo—and the then-unknown act presumed that they'd be crashing with us that night. Not so. I kicked their asses out. The boys were not pleased... and over the next year, each of them took me aside and individually chewed me out for my bitchy behavior. Well deserved, I suppose, and thankfully we got past it way before they became poised to take over the rock world (when are those Vans coming out, Brann?).

Lemmy & Me

Lemmy & The Yellow Rose - My good friend Wes has been following around Lemmy Kilmister for a documentary he's filming on the legend, and he didn't have to ask me twice to accompany them to one of Austin's premiere gentlemen's clubs, the Yellow Rose. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the quality of dancers (then again, I'd been living in Atlanta, and it's sort of a huge point of pride there), but there was one showgirl who performed a trick involving her nipple and a lit match. I was intrigued and asked her to show me how she did it, which she did, demonstrating on me. I did it all for Lemmy.

Oh, Isaac Hanson - One of my favorite restaurants in Austin is the BBQ mecca, Iron Works. During our first visit there years ago, I discovered a giant Texas-shaped mirror in their womens bathroom and insisted Merilee see it as we left the restaurant. Once inside, we probably tapped a one-hitter to help settle dinner and giggled at the mirror, then stumbled out—right into the eldest of the Hanson brothers, Isaac. He looked at us, staring closely at Merilee's wild 10 lbs worth of dreadlocks (replete with quarter-machine prizes as ornaments), and nervously greeted us. Then, turning to Mer, said, "Your hair is very... cool. You're very brave."

"Right on," she responded casually, handing him an invite to the High Times party. Then, as we left the joint, Merilee turned to me and said in all seriousness: "time to shave my head."

4. Being Stalked By Shat's Jeff Wood - I wouldn't exactly say I was in any kind of danger, but considering my Psilocybin-enhanced demeanor, I was in no mood to entertain date requests from a guy who followed me into a women's bathroom whilst wearing a tie that read, "I [Heart] Cunt." Still, there was something endearing about the Shat figurehead (maybe it's hit songs like "Cunt Flavored Lollipops" and "Vagetarian") that keeps him close to my heart. One day, Jeff. One day...


5. Merilee's First TX-Sized Concussion -
After persuading Hank III & Assjack to perform at High Times' party (along with acts as varied as Keller Williams and Stephen Perkins), Merilee and I wound up inadvertently taking off on their bus as they made their way to their second gig of the night at Continental Club. At that point, HT's party was hosted at a venue specializing in making frozen drinks with Everclear and grain alcohol, so we were probably a little hammered when we decided to walk back to our hotel on the unpaved and elevated strip of South Congress that led back to the Embassy Suites. When we came to an impass, we had only one choice: to jump down six feet or so down to the traffic-heavy street. Merilee went first, and promptly made contact with the concrete using her head. Her eyes started rolling into the back of her head and we freaked out a little. Mel and I helped her back to our room, settled her in the bed and made sure Merilee stayed awake and ate some room service fries. As soon as she was feeling better, I went off to my next adventure of the night... getting cock-blocked by Jello Biafro (see below).

6. Cock-Blocked By Jello Biafra - Sure, he's a punk legend and all, but that motherfucker can talk. Especially when he's coked up. And adding more cause to speculation that he bats for both teams, I clearly caught him checking out both me and my date. Paying close attention to the detailing on my boy's custom leather pants, Jello announced that he would thereby refer to him as Shank Skullbutt. That's when I rolled my eyes and thought, "Jello Biafra get the fuck off the bus so I can make out with my boy." But he STILL didn't get it. Be warned, Jello Biafra is a furious cock blocker.

Yngwie Malmsteen

7. Yngwie Who? Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen! - It's kind of a trip thinking about how many different kinds of acts I've caught at SxSW over the years. Last year, my big bragging rights came after seeing the Clipse immediately after headbanging to Motorhead—all before 5 pm. But nothing was quite as trippy as seeing Yngwie Malmsteen at the gratefully dead Back Room (for a long time, all metal shows were relegated to this strip-mall rock joint). Malmsteen, in all his bloated, foundation-wearing glory rocking out. It would be years before he unleashed the fury, but at least we had that one night in Austin.

8. Smoking The Bible - Picture the scenario: A group of us throw our luggage down in our off-strip hotel room, we get our hands on some premium green... and there are no papers anywhere. Then someone (Rob? Derek? E?) remembered that Bibles were printed on rice paper, thereby making the blank sheets inside safe to smoke. It worked in a pinch, but it didn't spark that well. Am I going to Hell? Sure. At least I'll be with all the cool kids.

Karma To Burn

The Meaning Of 'Karma To Burn' - During my very first SxSW, I met (and damn-near adopted) an instrumental trio from Morgantown, WV named Karma to Burn. And in our many years of friendship, I have never met a group—led by charismatic snake-oil salesman Rich "Little Dickie" Mullins—so deservedly and ironically named. There have been a few years between now and that fateful meeting so long ago when I didn't know what they were up (but hoped for the best) and I'm glad we're all around today to laugh about it.

10. Getting Busted - As mentioned above, I was 19 when I first came to SxSW—just two years shy of legally drinking. So what was a girl to do? Get a fake I.D. Little did I know at the time that
Texas was super strict about checking licenses, and not surprisingly, I got caught... in front of a bunch of music-biz execs. Thankfully, I still had my official badge and was let in after the legendary Harry Crossfield Jr. hooked me up.

What does this year have to offer? Bring it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Young Widows Make A Video

I've long championed this Louisville, KY band. And if you're a fan of Breather Resist and Jesus Lizard, you'll love Young Widows, too. Coincidentally, YW will be playing no less than three shows at South by Southwest, making this post the perfect way to kick off my pre-SxSW prep week.

Enjoy... and keep coming back for more bloggy-style posts about my favorite times spent in Austin, as well as my schedule for this year for all my (ha!) stalkers.

That said, here's some "Old Skin."

Old Skin - Young Widows from J.J. Johnstone on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mastodon's "Divinations" Video

I'm still a little bummed at Brann for not spelling "The Czar" with a "ts" in front, but whatevs. Also, is that Bill or Morgan Spurlock? Either way, here's Mastodon's first video/single from Crack The Skye, "Divinations."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lil' Kim, I Call 'Bullshit'

As I sweated to oldies Metallica on the elliptical machine last night, I happened upon Lil' Kim's "25 Random Things About Me" survey, as published in US Weekly magazine (yes: I can read, sweat and rock all at once). Generally, I tend to skip over this feature, but Lil' Kim has always held a certain underground dirty diva appeal for me—plus we never had to hire security to keep her out of the XXL offices the way we did Foxy "Meshugatz" Brown.

When I actually started reading the column, I almost fell off the exercise machine laughing. Sure, I can believe that Kim learned to "cook amazing and interesting meals in prison" (#2), she definitely looks like she enjoys candlelit bubble baths (#21), and I most certainly can see how a crab—instinctually, probably—bit her on the vag while she was swimming in the Bahamas (#10).

Still, there are just a few things I'm not buying. For #25, she wrote "I'm very intelligent," which as a survivor of the music business, I can believe she's no dummy, but c'mon, writing that is the meme equivalent of seeing homely chick on the Jersey Shore wearing T-shirts that say "Hottie" or "Sexy." If you have to say it, you're probably not.

Finally, I call utter Bullshit on #23: "I enjoy reading my Bible every day." Really? This is the same woman who's second highest Google search request is "Lil' Kim Bathroom Pics," and gave us such soul-searching lyrics as, "Queen bitch red lipstick/The all black harlot call me black Barbie/Fuck a blow job it's a motherfuckin' hobby/Under 7 inches, uhh sorry." Every day, huh? When does she find the time?

Kim, stop lying. You are a bass-ass bitch, and bad-asses just don't have time for Bible Study. Leave that shit to Elizabeth Hasselback.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Night of New York Metal


New York hasn't had cred as a metal mecca since well before the grunge invasion, so last week it was fun to check out a solid show comprised fully of local bands. Unfortunately, my interest level was in direct contradiction of the lineup order, which featured Wetnurse, Villians and headliners Bloody Panda. Still, everyone's energy was fantastic, and any time I'm in a dark, loud club hearing power chords, I'm a happy girl.

The main attraction for me, far and away, was Wetnurse. Having gotten more and more into their album, Invisible City, over the past few months, I was pretty eager to see them live for the first time. And despite the lack of stage lighting and liberal fog machine usage (seriously, it was like an SF Bay morning—save the masking effects for an uglier band, like Crowbar, maybe?), they in no way disappointed. Vocalist Gene Fowler prowled the stage like a feral Black Flag-era Henry Rollins while delivering a spastic, guttural performance. Meanwhile, the band showcased their refined amalgam sound—which seems as impervious to pigeonholing as ever—throughout their all-too-short set. And any time I see two Warlock guitars on a stage in this day and age, it's a mitzvah. But no offense, guys, I really want to see you someplace far grimier than Santos Party House. Hopefully, I'll get that chance when they play Public Assembly with Genghis Tron and Tombs on April 12.


Next up were Villains, and though they were new to me, the shady band members were not. Featuring Cattlepress' Eddie Ortiz on guitar and Hemlock's Leno "Beat Poet" on vocals, this act was far less refined, yet retained all the raw energy I enjoyed about their former groups. Though half the songs sounded like the intro to Metallica's "Damage Inc." they ultimately won me over with their brutal sound.

Bloody Panda

The same cannot be said of Bloody Panda. As soon as I saw the hooded band members (perhaps they don't want people to know they are in Bloody Panda?), I realized I'd seen them a month ago opening for Nachtmystium. Imagine my disappointment. Better yet, imagine a band that sounds like Yoko Ono meeting Boris and you too would realize that nothing good could come of it. Though the atmospheric performance seemed to enthrall the crowd, it was definitely just that—a doomy, dramatic performance, but not a headline-worthy set. Shit, I'd rather have seen Wetnurse come out again for an encore—or even a set full of covers (imagine what they'd do on a Dillinger Escape Plan/Plagiarism-type EP... Makes my nipples hard just thinking about it).

So, in closing: go see Wetnurse, save the bloody panda love for Gloomy Bear and sign my forthcoming Facebook petition for Leno to be the write-in candidate for NYC Mayor (he can run on the Hater platform).