"Slit Wrist Rock 'n' Roll" 7"
Jackson, MS garage-punk favorites the Overnight Lows deliver the goods once again with their second release for the increasingly influential local indie imprint Goner Records. The A-side is classic Overnight Lows - a fast and furious original punk rock gem with a memorable pop hook and loads of sneer. And the B-side is a faithful cover of the 1978 underground American punk cult-classic "I'm Gonna Be Everything" by Ed Nasty & the Dopeds.
My cover story on the local presence at this year's South By Southwest Music Festival is out. I didn't have space to write about the non-locals in the paper. And though I wrote plenty from Austin in this space last week, I wanted to do a final blog post on non-local SXSW stuff, especially as an excuse to publish some more photos Justin Fox Burks took while down there.
So, here's my Top 12 non-local acts I saw last week:
1. Wild Flag
I don't know that this was purely the best set I saw, but it was the most satisfying in part for not knowing what to expect. Two members of my favorite mid-’90s-mid-’00s band, Sleater-Kinney (guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss) team with a singer/guitarist I hadn't thought about in years (Mary Timony of ’90s indie rockers Helium) and a keyboardist I was unfamiliar with (Rebecca Cole of the Minders). The result could have gone any which way, but Wild Flag was fresh and fun, somehow both poppier and more guitar-oriented than Sleater-Kinney, with great on-stage chemistry. I couldn't make out enough words to get a feel for their songs, but I'm really looking forward to when this band finally puts out their debut album.
I wrote longer on Wild Flag here.
When we last spoke with local musician/songwriter Robby Grant (of Vending Machine, Mouserocket, etc.) in November, he was gearing up for the release of the latest Vending Machine effort, Let The People Sing and looking forward to getting back in the studio. This week Grant caught us up on what he's been up to since.
Flyer: So, how have things been going with Vending Machine?
Grant: We played a few shows here and there but have mainly been recording. I've got three finished new songs and we're going to be going into the studio in next month or so. We've been testing them out live and been pretty happy.
I also got a new 8-track recorder in January and have been making a lot of new sounds. It's is taking me back to cassette 4-tracking days. I just started a new website (http://SongsFromSunspots.com) where I'll be giving away stuff I'm working on. It ranges from sketches to finished songs. Look for a new song every few days.
Day three of the South By Southwest Music Festival exploded, tens (hell, hundreds?) of thousands of civilians pouring into the mix of festival registrants and turning 6th Street into a roiling ocean of colorful, unkempt humanity.
Wild Flag guitarist Carrie Brownstein, onstage at the Parish late Friday night (or, I suppose, early Saturday morning), was speaking for many of us when she couldn't remember if her band had played the club earlier that day or the day before: "I don't remember. It's not alcohol. It's just walking down 6th Street. That's a mind eraser."
Locals: Memphis or Memphis-connected acts were dotting the SXSW landscape. Memphis garage/punk institution Goner Records was holding an unofficial showcase at familiar haunt Beerland, with locals Harlan T. Bobo and The Limes scheduled to play. Playing official showcases at opposite ends of the festival mainland were experimental rockers Cloudland Canyon (at Emo's Jr.) and the North Mississippi Allstars (following their early Thursday show at Stubb's with another showcase at Momo's). Folk-rockers Star & Micey, done with official business, were spotted out busking. And local artists hitting town for shows off the SXSW grid were said to include young indie bands Bake Sale and Modern Convenience and songwriter Bryan Hartley as well as rapper Jason Da Hater and producer Infinito, who showed up at fellow Memphis rapper Skewby's day show and then, apparently, played later Friday night at the Victory Grill.
We ran into Valerie June at Buffalo Billiards. With a day off between gigs — having played an official showcase at the Hilton Garden Inn the previous night and scheduled to play a Folk Alliance event at Threadgill's on Saturday — June was enjoying the fest and conducting a little business, having been approached by a significant booking agent after her showcase the night before.
But we carved out "locals" space on our schedule for a couple of showcases located close together in the middle of the action.
First was Apex Manor early on at the Merge Records showcase at the Parish. The California-based Apex Manor is the brainchild of Memphis native Ross Flournoy, who is returning after the break-up of his fine previous band, the Broken West.
Our second day at Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival got a somewhat earlier start than our first, with one late-afternoon day set and a full slate of night showcases. The highlights:
Seeing them indoors at Stubb's early Thursday night, the Allstars were as good as I've ever seen them. Playing a set that seemed to come almost exclusively from their new album, they were sharp, Luther Dickinson finding a perfect balance between song form and his masterful guitar playing. A constantly smiling Cody Dickinson was crisp behind the drum kit and Chew added bass lines as big as he is, with help on tambourine, backup and, at times, lead vocals. The gospel undercurrent on Keys to the Kingdom came out even more clearly on stage and added more gravity and soul to the band's trademark blues-rock sound.
Before they performed, I had an extensive conversation with the brothers Dickinson in which we talked about the passing of their father, Jim Dickinson, his influence on their current album, the future of his Zebra Ranch studio, the duo's long list of side projects, the difficulty of pleasing fans and critics who want different things from the band, their personal SXSW history, and other topics. Look for plenty of material from that interview in next week's festival cover story — and probably a collection of interview outtakes in this space after the paper hits the streets.
This week, local concert promoters Beaver Productions announced that grunge-pop pioneers (and more recently, classic rock revivalists) Foo Fighters will return to Memphis on May 20 to headline a big 3-band show at Fed Ex Forum. British hard rock legends Motorhead and Scottish alt-rockers Biffy Clyro round out the bill.
Both the Foo Fighters and Motorhead are touring in support of what are being called comeback albums this year. The Foo Fighters' highly anticipated new record, a supposedly harder-tinged effort entitled Wasting Light, is being hailed as a return to the group's late '90s heyday-form and comes out on April 12. Meanwhile, Motorhead's latest album, the solidly Motorhead-ish The World is Yours, hit stores back in February.
Tickets for the show go on sale to the general public tomorrow morning (03/19/11) at 10 a.m. at the Forum box office as well as all local Ticketmaster locations and www.ticketmaster.com.
About 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, fully caffeinated, two colleagues and I hopped into a rented Chevy Impala and began the long journey to Austin, Texas, for the annual South By Southwest Music Festival.
This is was my sixth trip to Austin in the past eight years, but this year there was one change in the scenery: Some boldly crazy political billboards. First we saw George W. Bush smiling down at us, posed next to the question: "Miss me yet?" That one we'd heard about. The next one took us by surprise: A glowering portrait of President Obama next to the enormous allegation: SOCIALIST BY CONDUCT.
Welcome to Texas!
Austin, of course, is a different story.
"This Austin isht is crazy. Kinda like an interracial freaknick!" — Atlantic Monthly writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, a personal fave, tweeted from outdoor amphitheatre Stubbs, apparently experiencing SXSW for the first time. And, at SXSW, the freaks don't just come out at night. They're on the roam 24-7.
By the time we got into town, got settled into our respective temporary abodes, and had Mexican food and margaritas on the outdoor deck of one of probably hundreds of Austin haunts that offer such sustenance, the opening night of the festival was half over.
But we still got off to a pretty good start.
My experience of SXSW has been that the artists I end up seeing tend to fit into four categories: 1. Memphis artists we're there, in part, to cover. 2. Emerging bands that are the purpose of a festival meant to be primarily and industry showcase. 3. The comfort food of established favorites. 4. Acts you stumble upon by accident or while waiting for something else.
This weekend (Friday night in particular) is incredibly loaded with great live music options, so here's a rundown of the best of what's going on in the local clubs and venues for the next couple of days:
Friday, March 11
Davila 666, True Sons of Thunder and Tyler Keith & the Apostles
The Hi-Tone Cafe
For my money, the highlight of the weekend should be this dynamite triple-bill at the Hi-Tone headlined by Puerto Rican garage rockers (and Gonerfest 6 standouts) Davilla 666.
The full lineup is out for this year's Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place Friday, April 29th through Sunday, May 1st at Tom Lee Park. It's being heralded by Memphis in May as "the biggest lineup ever." At the very least, it's certainly one of the most interesting and most contemporary lineups in a long time, blending the familiar mix of strong local, blues, jam-rock, and hard-rock acts with a better-than-usual blend of contemporary hip-hop/pop (Ludacris, Ke$ha) and alt/indie/roots-rock acts (Wilco, MGMT).
And if you watched last month's Grammy broadcast, you'll see lots of familiar faces, with four Grammy performers — Cee Lo, B.O.B., Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers — on the bill.
Three-day passes for the festival are on sale now. Single-day tickets go on sale starting at 2 p.m. today. For more information on ticketing, go here. For a full lineup and a stage-by-stage breakdown, keep reading. Set times have not been announced, but we do have the ordered lineups for each stage:
Horseshoe Casino Stage: Manchester Orchestra, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, Flaming Lips
Early Read: This stage will be alt-rock heaven Friday night, with relative newcomers Manchester Orchestra and the ascendant Cage the Elephant starting things off and veterans Flaming Lips — who had to cancel a scheduled set at last year's BSMF — capping it off. The flamboyant, theatrical Lips are definitely the safest live bet here, but most interesting might be seeing the Memphis-connected MGMT (lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden is a White Station High School grad and the son of Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden) in their biggest local setting yet. (Previous local MGMT shows were at the Hi-Tone Café and Minglewood Hall, respectively.)