Damn, I'm beat. Not because I spent today trudging around Austin in the hot, hot sun, mind you, but because I spent today kiddie birthday party-hopping, hitting two exhausting, extremely loud gatherings of munchkins in one long, long afternoon. I managed to overdose pretty severely on frosting, greasy pizza, bouncy castles, and Hannah Montana, all in the span of about five hours.
Which is pretty sad, really, but after last night I don't feel that bad about it -- who needs Austin, anyway? I managed to coerce/cajole buddy Jowell into coming over to Midtown with me to check out the Teenage Bottlerocket/The Femurs/Broadway Calls/Something Fierce/Teenage Kicks show at The Mink and happily walked away reassured that even when SXSW is on, the rest of the musical universe doesn't just stop moving. I've got some pics of the show below, with a few more up here for anybody who's interested.
First off, I'm now heartily jealous of anybody who lives in the Montrose or along the Midtown edge of the Main corridor; that one block-long section of Main St. that includes The Mink, The Continental Club, Sig's Lagoon, The Big Top, Tacos A-Go-Go, & Julia's is an awe-inducing chunk of condensed coolness these days, not to mention one of the few areas in town where you can -- hey, imagine that! -- actually walk from one music venue (sorry, but dance clubs downtown don't count) to another. It was fucking cool to be able to step out of the show for a minute (more on that in a sec) to drag my fellow showgoer over to Sig's to gaze in awe at the copies of Down in Houston they've got for sale (one of which I will be buying someday soon), meander over to see who's playing at The Continental, and then head back in to catch the rest of the show.
And what a show it was. Despite a somewhat low turnout at the beginning and some technical difficulties w/a bass cabinet that'd been dropped down the stairs earlier on, local boys Teenage Kicks utterly ripped the floor off the Backroom, proving to be probably the highlight of the night, at least for me. You wouldn't think it to look at 'em, but they do a ridiculously good job of channeling the spirit & fire of late-'70s punk/pop, stuff like The Buzzcocks, The Undertones, The Boys, or The Jam, and trust me, I don't throw around comparisons like that lightly.
I'm still somewhat in shock that a trio of guys who look like they're young enough to be students are able to spit out snarling-yet-poppy tracks like "Bound For Glory" or "Electric Girl," but hell, there it is. Plus, the banter & occasional string-changing gave the whole thing a down-to-earth feel that was pretty entertaining, like we'd all just happened into a really, really together, on-fire band practice or something. Picked up a copy of their new demo, so look for a review of that sometime soon...
Something Fierce took the stage next, looking somewhat tired but still, um, fierce -- Stephen G. said they were worn-out from a weird-ass outdoor house party show out in the hot Austin sun where the house itself was apparently so filthy the band was afraid they'd picked up scabies. (And if that ain't punk, well...) Even with the tiredness, though, the band rocked it, tearing through a some of Come For The Bastards and the 7" tracks, along with some newer(?) stuff I didn't know as well. "On Your Own" came off even better this time than the last time I saw SF play, and "Modern Girl" proves pretty much indisputably that these kids get better with every single thing they release, seriously.
My ears were ringing pretty badly by the time SF had finished, so I decided to make the aforementioned trip down to Sig's Lagoon & my car (for earplugs, although I somehow neglected to actually get them when I got back to the car...argh). Jowell & I ogled the CDs at Sig's, admiring the goofy books & such they sell, too, before we realized that hell, we'd better get back upstairs. Sadly, we missed all but the last two songs by Broadway Calls, which sucks, 'cause what we did hear actually sounded pretty good, quite a bit like the Alkaline Trio, whom I happen to really like. Dang.
Honestly, though, they weren't who I'd come to see -- the band I was most curious about had to be Seattle/NYC duo The Femurs, who I'd heard & fallen in love with pretty much just this past week. On disc the band comes off like a cross between The Ramones and The Beach Boys, all down-strummed acoustic power chords & earnest-boy vocal harmonies, but the live show turned out to lean heavily towards the Ramones side of the equation.
Rather than the ultra-clean guitars and pretty, amped-up love-lost melodies of Modern Mexico, the live Femurs were loud and distorted, so much so that it was hard to hear the harmonies and get past the full-on punk fury. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you, but I was kinda bummed that songs like "Crazy Girl" and "Not Giving Up" didn't have that nice sheen they had on the actual recording. I never thought I'd actually want a band to sound flat & jangly like a couple of coffeehouse bohos, but in this case, I think I do.
The nonstop, rapid-fire onstage banter between Rob & Colin Femur (friends since age 13, hence the witty repartee) made up for the over-distortion somewhat, and the band blew the doors off the place with "Crazy Girl" (distortion and all), "Plastic Swords," b-day song "September 1st," and "Peter Wolf" -- especially loved the Noo Yawk sneer on that last track. The vocals were a little rough at times, but all in all, it still worked for most of the set.
Sadly, at that point in the evening, yours truly had to bail and head for home; I'd promised the wife I wouldn't get home at or after 1AM, like usual. Sorry to the Teenage Bottlerocket guys -- I'm old & lame. sigh. On the way out, got to chat a bit with Austin/Houston-dweller Travis of He Said She Said Presents, finally meeting him for the first time after much email, and met Jon of Teenage Kicks, who also apparently runs the Always Summer Booking crew. Good people, both.
After that, Jowell & I wandered smiling & happy with the world out into the street, enthusing about the bands and dodging the light rail trains and the cops rousting some guy from Tacos A-Go-Go as we started to make our way on back to the near-'burbs of the Heights & Meyerland. Screw Austin; here in H-town, we make our own good times, and we don't need an industry lovefest to do it, right?
Labels: H-Town News, Live Reviews, Pseudo-Reviews, Random Ramblinggaijin || Link || E-mail || 0 comments
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