Edie Carey at Flipnotics?

While flipping through the Austin Chronicle, I caught sight of Edie Carey’s name on the Flipnotics bill for Monday. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I had to do a Google double check just to make sure my dyslexia wasn’t filling in words for me. It’s been several years now since I last saw Edie at Momo’s, playing to a room of approximately 10, 5 of whom were intrigued staff members.

I caught Edie back in 2003 at a *cough* Melissa Ferrick gig at Red Eyed Fly. Don’t ask why I was at a Melissa Ferrick show, it’s just one of those things that happens to good people sometimes. Edie caught my ear when she threw a capo on her 7th fret and dropped her signing octave down a few notches, creating a hauntingly beautiful love song. Her “newest” album Another Kind of Fire, was put out in 2006 and left me feeling flat and uninspired. The true gold lies in the “When I was made” era, a simple album with plaintive lyrics and melodies that feel right at home beneath a vast expanse of sky and star. One of my favorite songs still is “If I Start to Cry”, an ode to a father and a daughters missing heart.

Edie’s playing Flipnotics with Rose Cousins, a similar acoustic artist. If you’re looking for an easy going and heartfelt end to your Monday, check it out.

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Frightened Rabbit @ Stubb’s

On Wednesday this week, I joined my fellow purple clad mates at Stubb’s for the Frightened Rabbit gig. We got there halfway through the second openers set, Bad Veins which turned out to be a blessing. I had done the quick Myspace check before coming out and had looked forward to hearing the Killer-esque Falling Tide. There was no spark though when it came down to it, Bad Viens rhythm felt like a dirge, barely a warm up for FR. It wasn’t until the last song when they decided it was time to pick up the pace during a breakdown that I finally looked up from my beer. But just as quickly as they went back into their regularly programmed song, I went back to my beer.

Frightened Rabbit set up their own equipment and started up quickly, which given the weekday scheduling, I was pleased about. The set list was a smattering of the best from Winter of Mixed Drinks & Midnight Organ Fight, pleasing the crowd despite the constant shouts for Twist. It was a decent showing for a weekday and a large majority of the crowd appeared to be in the 9 to 5 age range which may account for the low key but pleased response Rabbit & crew generated. It was like a two beer buzz, warm, grinning and genuinely happy to hear the music but not really ready to move into “lets swing from the speakers” mode. Scott Hutchinson demo’d his chops during an acoustic and spotlight session when he lost amplification to his guitar, pressing through the song while he pulled on a new guitar and re-capoed.

This was the 3.5 FR set I’ve seen thus far this year and though I was very pleased to be there, it didn’t ignite me like the first two had during SXSW. Perhaps it’s only because I wasn’t as close to the stage or the lack of the frantic SXSW air, but I left feeling like I’d just hung out and reminisced with an old friend. The biggest spark I felt was in the renewal of my attraction to Gordon Skene, Frightened Rabbit’s newest addition. Something about his mouth and utter mouse-like demeanor makes me want to stalk him after the show..which I promise I did not.

Gordon Skene on Right. Photo: Catherine Murphy

The set list was well thought out, ending on the popular Keep Yourself Warm and holding Twist and Loneliness & The Scream for an encore. All in all, a good showing by the Scots and a demonstration of their small but growing fan base.

Texas Book Fest FTW

I didn’t get to stalk Alton Brown but I still had a grand ol’ time at the Texas Book Festival. My buddy and I headed down there early on Saturday morning to catch Laura Bush’s discussion at the Paramount. For my friend, this talk was more about the fact that Laura started the book fest, was a librarian and attended the same grad program that she’s currently in, U.T.’s School of Information. For me, it was a mix of morbid curiosity, weird intrigue and an odd event for a liberal queer to be attending. Laura was a class act and I was impressed by her comic timing, catching a number of large laughs from the crowd of 40+ bookish types. She also provided a few antidotes bout her husband which, though I still cannot agree with his politics, made him seem more human than monkey. A large amount of the talk did surround her reaction to 9/11 and the days that followed and I was struck by the realization that she truly stood by her man, even though she seemed to have different ideas of how the events that followed should have occurred. Do I condone her silence? Absolutely not, but I do understand where it stems from.

Afterward we grabbed a bite from one of my fave hot dog joints, Dog Almighty which only has a shop down in South Austin. I was disappointed though by their food cart fare. If I had known it was going to be concession stand cheese on my hot dog, I would have stuck to frito pie.

We perused the vending booths and admired the loads of kids wandering around, ranging from infant to high school book clubs. The event and booth offerings were superb, it truly felt like this was a fest geared for all ages and interests.

My one and only book purchase was from Book Woman and I couldn’t be more excited. I picked up Girls to the Front, the true story of riot grrrl revolution by Sara Marcus which I’d been eyeballing on Amazon for several days. I was too young to catch the Riot Grrrl kick while it was still in full steam but it’s legacy got me through living in small town Texas. Hurray for my local feminist book store having one copy at it’s vendor stand!

Overall, it’s free festivals look these which cater to a wide range of ages and encourage learning that make me love Austin.

ACL Day 2 & 3

What a fest! I’m still recuperating from my treks across Zilker. On Saturday, I showed up prior to the doors opening for the first time ever and was shocked that C3 blasted the Star Wars medley to welcome the throng. Check out the below video from a staffer watching the crowd come in during a past ACL:

Givens
The Muse light show was spectacular.
The DeadMau5 show blew my mind
The Flaming Lips brought out the hamster ball and had crazy stuff going on stage and I was totally into it
I totally dug the LCD SoundSystem set
I heard the Eagles play Hotel California, though it was as I was leaving

Letdowns

Gayngs : What a letdown, for both the fest goers and for Gayngs. A bus that gets sent back full of equipment? Truly, what sort of customer service is that? Obviously the kind that you would expect from a guy who names his business after himself and talks about himself in the 3rd person (re : “If CJ takes your bus away from you, it’s either because you’re tearing it up or you didn’t pay me. Ask anybody: I’m one of the fairest guys in the business.”). Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed when I came up to the Zync card stage to find Lance Herbstrong dj’ing rather than Gayngs though I will say that he gave the crowd a great time.
Broken Bells : I was totally psyched for this set, I even arrived early enough to catch a space up at the front. Two songs in though I realized that they left all the magic on the album. The showmanship wasn’t there, the feeling of euphoria I felt when hearing the album just didn’t translate onto the big stage. I left before they even got to High Road.

M.I.A. : I left early from the Muse show to catch the M.I.A. break it down. First, the jumbotrons weren’t on. Who in the world turns off the jumbotrons on the big stage? How will the people who have been camping out behind the chair line all day waiting to see you catch a glimpse? Maybe they came back on later, but I was sorely disappointed to not be able to walk up and catch what was on the stage. I heard the opening strains of Paper Planes and jetted, it wasn’t worth the energy to try to get close enough.

Morning Benders : I recently started enjoying this album and was interested in seeing their live set but it was, in a word, a bore. They seemed unsure of what to do with the crowd and though they played well, the energy just wasn’t there for me. Maybe next time after a few more rounds of touring.

Monsters of Folk : I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a big Conor Oberst fan. I’ve seen Bright Eyes 3 times and I love me some My Morning Jacket. I came up to the stage looking forward to sticking for a while, even though I haven’t heard much of the Monsters album. The crowd though was just absolutely overwhelming, I couldn’t get close enough to be able to hear well enough to park it. These guys should have been on a larger stage.

Dawes : These guys didn’t really seem to hit their stride until the last song of the set which is truly their best one, When My Time Comes. I was hoping to see that same flaming energy throughout the entire set but instead got a slow burn.

Fave Sets

Lissie : First thing on Saturday I caught Lissie, one of the shows I was most psyched to hear thanks to her incredible voice and superb ability to create memorable covers. Lissie came out in a sun dress, barefoot and rocking a telecaster. She launched in to songs off of Catching a Tiger and kept up the pace even when beats from the Budweiser stage seeped in. Her stage banter was on target and made her seem like a more seasoned performer, undoubtedly thanks to her recent touring. Her lead guitarist, Eric Sullivan, brought his A game on some well placed solo work during “In Sleep” and “When I’m Alone”. The thing that really draws me in to Lissie is her soaring voice, even when singing softly she conjures up images of images of vast prairies and sky for me. She ended with one of my fave covers, Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi. Her ability to strip down what is an otherwise dense hip hop song to the meat of the lyrics blows me away every time.

Check out the video below to hear her version of it at ACL

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros : I caught the last portion of Edward Sharpe’s set at Lollapalooza and was blown away by the crowd, the energy and the participation. For the encore, he had everyone sit down while he sang, amazing! So I showed up early and made sure to get a front spot for what was one of the most awe inspiring shows of the fest. Sharpe & crew are clearly making waves thanks to their album, Up from Below, and feel good foot stomper, Home. This set’s pureness of heart and honest brought me to tears and enormous smiles. Despite their obvious popularity, the band is still in what I call the “freshman stage”. They still seem blown away by the number of people waiting to hear them, they still react to the crowd with pure heart, they still give such an enormous amount of love and energy. I sang, I cried, I raised my hands to the sky. It was akin to being young and brainwashed by the Baptists, truly believing that in any moment God, or in this case Edward Sharpe, would bring you to a point of pure love and light. Which is fitting considering the persona of Edward Sharpe was shaped by Alex Ebert to be a Messiah of sorts, sent to the world to bring peace and love. It was beautiful in a way that is just breathtaking.

The National : This set I have been waiting for since I missed them at Lollapolloza so I could get a close up spot for Arcade Fire. The National have been on a slow and steady rise, thanks to the success of Boxer and now their latest release, High Violet. Add to that their ability to bring what are otherwise incredibly dark, dreary and haunting songs to the stage and keep the crowd engaged and you’ve got one superbly talented band. Matt Berringer, the lead singer with the golden baritone, is known for his on stage antics and his ability to delve into himself and pull out his heart for the crowd. This set did not disappoint. Matt & Co provided witty banter, played a range of songs from several albums, hit the crowd favorites at all the right moments and brought the haunting, desperate feeling you found on their albums to a new level. I attended this directly after hearing Edward Sharpe and the stark contrast of the two bands could have never been more realized. The fact that both seeped straight through to my heart’s core though is undeniable. This was the last show of the fest for me and it was the perfect, blue and howling note to end it on.

books in the morning

Up early this morning to catch the former first lady Laura Bush chat about her memoir. Surprisingly, there’s a limited number of the under 30 set here. I’ve never had the chance to come down for the Texas Book Fest (its ACL for books!) and was thrilled to see the number of tents put out. Now if only I can touch Alton Brown…

ACL Day 1 Recap

To say my ship came in for ACL weekend is..well really just a metaphor that has nothing to do with ACL. What it does tell you is that I got severely lucky in the realm of “free wristband” thanks to my wonderful wife’s connections and superb baby-care skills. I didn’t buy myself a wristband prior since I had decided to go to Lollapalooza instead. As much as I had tried to convince myself I did not want to go to ACL, I could not convince my heart that there weren’t bands there I truly wanted to see, even if I was sharing the experience with 100,000 other people.

So on Friday, I hightailed it down to the fest in the early afternoon in time to catch the Mountain Goats set.

Mountain Goats

I’ve been a lackluster Mountain Goats fan to say the least. I have a high appreciation for John Darnelle’s ability to write engaging stories about incredibly creepy things (like wanting to kill his wife) but that only translates to a very specific type of mood and copious amounts of whiskey. His most well known song to date has been This Year which he hit mid set with vigor. The crowd perked up and Darnelle reciprocated, providing bits of banter between songs and revving up his on stage antics.

Girls

I headed over to catch the Girls set which I was rather psyched for. Though I’m not a large proponent of the dreamy, beach pop, Girls caught me with Lust for Life and Hellhole Rat Race. Unfortunately they’re audio was abysmal low. I stuck around for a couple of songs but gave up after I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Pink Char

Lucky for me, Miike Snow was not experiencing anywhere near the same audio issues. I walked up and slid into the side of the crowd right at the start of Animal which the crowd went wild for. I slid further in as the Miike Snow crowd cleared out to setup a front right spot up against the fence for Beach House. From my vantage point I could hear the Black Keys set and got to witness a slightly drunk dude sit in this tiny chair for 30 minutes before crushing it to pieces.

Beach House

It’s been only recently that I’ve finally gotten tuned in to Beach House so I was psyched to see them up close and personal since I missed out on their sold out Spring show. Beach House did not disappoint, giving a slowly rising performance. What they lacked in audience banter they made up in pure layers of sound. Victoria Legrand sems to be moving towards a mix between Patti Smith & Karen O on stage antics between her black button down, longish hair and waving arms. I for one am all for active front women, the crazier the better. I left the show wishing I could swim into Beach’s sound.

Post Day 1 Glow

All in all, an easy approach to ACL Day 1. Added bonus, I picked up a new hat!

More on Day 2 and the Mayer Hawthorne after show as soon…

ACL Day Two/what else to do?

My luck came in! Waiting for Lissie to start up this beautiful Saturday morning. If you’re aching for some live music but don’t want to come down and buy a ticket off a hawker, head over to Cheer Up Charlies for Ditch the Fest. They’ll have some great local bands, including Yellow Fever, it’ll be easy to find parking and, most notably, its FREE!

Whatever you do, enjoy this wonderful Austin Saturday