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Mild High Club Concert Review
  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Nov, 16 2017 

As I pulled up to Cheer Up Charlie’s, I couldn’t help but smile. I stared in the direction of the neon glowing entrance sign for a lingering moment. It was my first time at the venue, and more significantly, it would be my first time seeing one of my favorite bands in the entire universe—Mild High Club.

The intimacy of the outdoor space established the perfect setting for the occasion, modestly decked out with low hanging string lights, a delicate, cloud-like canopy overhead, and the friendly company of fellow music lovers. It was nearly impossible to contain my excitement.

Mild High Club is the psychedelic pop project of musician Alex Brettin. Their music is the ultimate trip through a broad range of feelings and emotion, whether nostalgia, elatedness, or pure tranquility. The ways in which their songs have been described often touch upon topics of ethereality and surrealism, or perhaps more mundane descriptions such as “stoner elevator music”, as one attendee of the show phrased it. Nevertheless, Alex Brettin is a technically gifted artist, and incorporates the ideal mix of sentimentality and charm. His music indulges in the strange just enough to provoke a persistent wonderment.

The band kicked off the night with “Club Intro”, the legendary start to their debut album, Timeline. The set was pretty fairly divided between their debut album and sophomore album Skiptracing (a perfectly even distribution, in fact). Alex Brettin’s melodic complexities were never once compromised, and endured throughout.

The first three songs off of Skiptracing, which have been described as a “psychedelic triptych”, were thankfully included in the set. I cannot think of a better description. The songs—“Skiptracing”, “Homage” and “Carry Me Back”— seamlessly blend into one another, heightening the proposal of appreciating the body of music as coalescing elements of a whole.

Other favorites like “Tesselation” and “Kokopelli” were also played. The man of the hour, Ariel Pink himself, even joined the band onstage to perform “The Chat”, a song that they collaborated on. Brettin made the unfortunate call of not playing one of their gentler tunes, “You and Me”, due to an overbearing sound-storm, courtesy of the band playing next door. Although a personal favorite was skipped, the decision did not at all take away from the overall beauty of the night.

Ethereal sounding synths and dreamy instrumentals fostered a visceral experience. In many instances, I simply felt as if I were elsewhere, a vivid, beautiful place beyond my present surroundings. For a band’s music to have that kind of effect is something special.

Hearing these songs live was a surreal experience, to say the least, and I know everyone around me felt it too. The band ended the night with “Chapel Perilous”, a magically smooth departure. It is difficult to think of a more melodically chill way to spend a Sunday evening in downtown Austin. Mild High Club exceeded all possible expectations.

 

Written By Gianni Zorrilla

Photo by Isaac Sterling

Manchester Orchestra and Foxing 9/9/17
  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Oct, 19 2017 

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I called into The Morning X with Jason and Deb a few weeks ago hoping to win tickets to see Manchester Orchestra and Foxing at Stubb’s on September 9th. I never actually expected someone to pick up the phone, let alone to win the tickets, but my lifetime of bad luck changed that day. I scored myself two free tickets to the show and I was pumped. After spending the next 3 weeks prepping for the show, the night finally came and I walked into Stubb’s to a packed house.

Due to my friend’s inability to be on time to anything, we ended up missing the opener, All Get Out. We made it just in time to see Foxing take the stage. Foxing is an emo indie rock band from St. Louis, Missouri. Their debut album under Triple Crown Records The Albatross reaks of the emo revival, and I love it.

The lead singer (and trumpet player!), Connor Murphy, sings about ex-lovers in a way that instills nostalgia and longing to be loved. Murphy’s strained voice gives off the impression of instability, but his vocal performance was impressive from the beginning of the first song to the end of the last. Hearing “The Medic” live was healing for me in a totally personal way.

“She says “You don’t love me you just love sex

But I can’t wait around for something better than this

Because you’re the best that I can do

And I wish I could leave you.”

These lyrics still haunt me in a totally normal emo kid way.

Manchester Orchestra played a long headliner, filled mostly with songs from their newest album, A Black Mile to the Surface. Manchester Orchestra is an indie/alt. rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. Formed in 2004, Manchester Orchestra has emo roots, which are evident in their albums Cope and Simple Math. The rest of their albums, especially A Black Mile to the Surface, is influenced by their emo sound, but relies mostly on indie/alt. rock to appeal to a wider range of people. I guess it proves that no one can truly stay emo forever.

Manchester Orchestra is one of those bands that sounds exactly the same recorded and live. They have evolved to be one of the best rock bands of our generation by consistently producing music that not only reaches their listeners but stays relevant as time progresses.

 

By: Grace DeChant | Blog Manager

Shows You Wish You Saw from SXSW 2017
  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Mar, 29 2017 

As always, the city of Austin was buzzing with new faces and loads of musicians during SXSW. This year, hundreds of talented artists from all over the world treated crowds with what seemed like an endless amount of shows. From exclusive SXSW Official showcases to intimate performances inside a church, these are my highlights from SXSW 2017.

 

Mobley

I had been wanting to see Mobley, a local Austin musician, for a while and I finally got my chance during SXSW. Mobley played a small showcase presented by Ditto Records towards the latter part of the week. I can confidently say that it was one of my favorite shows. Aside from being an exceptionally talented one-man band, Mobley knows how to engage a crowd. Mobley brought down one of his drums into the crowd during the second song and had a group of people help with the percussion. After that, people were singing and dancing throughout the entire set, along with Mobley’s crazy stage presence.

Middle Kids  

Middle Kids are a trio hailing from Sydney, Australia who were already making waves before SXSW due to exposure from Elton John’s show on Apple Music and Zane Lowe’s Beats 1. I saw the band at one of those early morning broadcasts at the Four Seasons hotel. I would describe Middle Kids’ music as beachy-indie rock and the cool vibes that the band brought was a great way to start the day. Lead singer Hannah Joy is a bad*ss with gritty vocals who shreds equally as well as her male counterparts Tim Fitz and Harry Day. Middle Kids are currently on tour across the US and Australia, including some supporting shows with Cold War Kids.

MUNA

I feel very lame for just now getting into this band. MUNA (Los Angeles, California) is made up of three baddies and best friends Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson who create great dark-pop tunes. MUNA focuses on inclusiveness and expression of social issues in their songs and it really translates into their live shows. MUNA’s performance at RCA Records’ showcase was my introduction to the band and I have not stopped listening (and dancing) to “I Know a Place” from their debut album “About U,” released in February earlier this year. I highly suggest watching their performance of this song on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Khalid

Khalid was on my Must-See list for SXSW this year. The 19 year-old R&B singer is one of the hottest up-and-coming artists in the industry right now, and is already getting impressive features on tracks like Kendrick Lamar’s newly released “The Heat Part 4.” Khalid gave a fun and highly energetic performance to a large crowd at the RCA Records showcase. What made this show special was the fact that there seemed to be a high attendance of people from El Paso, TX which is where Khalid identifies as home. Be sure to check out his debut album “American Teen” out now.

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Mar, 27 2017 

A side project that redefined all expectations we have for side projects from here on out, Dams of the West brings a familiar voice with a completely new sound and feel from Vampire Weekend’s Chris Tomson at Waterloo Records SXSW day party on March 16th.

With his quirky style and talent combined, Chris Tomson (CT) has a project outside of Vampire Weekend which has a unique and feel-good sound. His first record entitled, “Youngish American” was released this year on February 24th. With relatable lyrics with underlying political meanings, CT’s debut solo project makes for a great album and memorable performances.

As part of the local Austin record store SXSW day parties, Dams of The West brought energy and laughs from the crowd. Upbeat and dancey tunes in addition to CT’s comical commentary in between songs made the SXSW day show a whole lot of fun for the whole crowd. Even in muggy, cloudy weather, Dams of the West kept the Waterloo parking lot rocking during the short 45-minute set.

CT wanted to experiment with a new sound. Most people know him for playing the drums in Vampire Weekend but in “Youngish American” he plays every instrument on the record; he even learned how to play guitar to take on this solo act.

Even though it is a one man band, he wasn’t able to make the record completely solo. He found help from The Black Keys’ own Patrick Carney, who produced the record.

The record has ten songs, a few of which have humorous lyrics that many millennials can relate to, such as “Pretty Good Wifi” and “Flag on the Can,” which refers to the American Flags that have recently appeared on Bud Light’s can branding.

At the Waterloo Records day party set, CT kept making remarks that “it felt like a real show.” The energy and excitement he had while performing reflected how proud he was to be playing his new work for others. The opportunity to play at SXSW with his solo project must have been one of the first large crowds it had been debuted to.

Even though he has performed several times with Vampire Weekend, you could tell he was not used to performing and being the frontman. After every song, CT would chat with the crowd about the next song to explain his inspiration for the lyrics. He had a nervous energy that showed when he stumbled over words and at one point accidentally pushed over the mic, but it came off as quirky and endearing that kind of exemplifies “Youngish American.”

If you are looking for a feel good album with relatable lyrics that makes you feel like taking a stroll on a sunny day, or going for a picnic with friends in a park, this is it. While that’s a pretty specific scenario, this album would basically work to be the soundtrack for any positive and relaxed environment. The upbeat tracks and positive attitude exuding from Dams of the West are a refreshing addition to the indie music world. Seeing a Dams of the West Show and buying or streaming “Youngish American” is a must for all you indie/alternative junkies out there!

Katy Szendrey // Alt About It

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Dec, 24 2016 

 

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Peep more of these spectacular shots of Day For Night in Houston by our own Levi Thompson here. You won’t be disappointed.

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Dec, 23 2016 

Deemed “the festival of the future,” Day for Night has quickly made a reputation for itself as one of the most unique and immersive festival experiences out there. With an eclectic music lineup of current artists and cult favorites alongside several captivating art installations, I can say that Day for Night truly makes for a one-of-a-kind festival experience. It seems that many festivals nowadays use the same copy/paste formula of overpriced beer, food trucks, and music, but Day for Night (which still had all three of those things) was curated with the precision and thoughtfulness of a fine art exhibit. Here is why I think DFN is one of the most exciting festivals in the world right now:

THE VENUE:  Held at an abandoned post office complex in the middle of Houston’s theater district, the vibe was dark and dystopian. The stages, which were both inside and outside, offered different levels of intimacy with the artists and provided much-needed refuge from the cold when I needed it — indoor bathrooms were also a plus. Aside from a few bottlenecking issues between stages, the layout was planned well. I never got bored walking around and exploring the different parts of the venue throughout the weekend.

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Irving

Photo Credit: Jennifer Irving

Photo Credit: Jennifer Irving

THE FOOD: The food was very, very Houston. There were so many Asian-fusion options, which I enjoyed a lot (pho burritos!!), and a couple of Houston’s most popular food spots like Oh My Gogi! and The Waffle Bus. Prices were modest compared to other fests, and the vendors actually brought their trucks to the venue and offered their full menu.

THE ART: The installations were spread out across the first and second floor of the building. The Björk digital installation amassed a huge line the entire weekend, and from what I heard it was nearly impossible to go see it without making a prior reservation online. I was one of those that did not make a reservation, so I was a little sad that I did not get to see it since it was one of the main spectacles of the weekend. Nonetheless, they offered over 12 installations that gave everyone more than enough to enjoy. My favorite installation: Outlines by Tundra, which featured moving laser patterns accompanied by ambient noise. Pictured below.

photo credit: Tundra

THE SOUND: The lineup was absolutely spectacular. Many festivals spend a lot of money booking just a couple of really huge acts to attract a crowd, but Day for Night knew better than to do that. They booked performers from far and wide across the music scene – people that could offer very special and/or rare performances. I never would have thought I would get the opportunity to see The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Butthole Surfers, and Aphex Twin in my lifetime, let alone in one weekend. Aiming more to please a target audience than buying into commercial acts really paid off and made the festival memorable. My favorite sets: Blood Orange, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kamasi Washington.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Day for Night’s title of “festival of the future” is well deserved. It may not be for everybody, but if it is your thing, it is a hell of an experience. It is obscure, thoughtful, and immersive as hell. Furthermore, I think it perfectly embodies Houston’s reputation as a cultural and artistic hub. I really admire the team that put this festival on because it is hard to make such a big event feel so personal. I would tell them not to change a thing, but I am excited to see how they will make it even more innovative in years to come.

 

John Griffin

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Dec, 23 2016 

It was the first day of the second annual Day For Night fest and it had been an unreasonably hot day in December, when I had the chance to see Devonté Hynes aka Blood Orange live. I had listened to the Palo Alto soundtrack that he composed spring of my sophomore year of high school and to about half of his most recent album, Freetown Sound, the day it came out. Other than that, however, I didn’t know too much about him or how much he really cared about his music.

The minute Dev Hynes and his two super-stylish background singers stepped on the stage, the entire crowd was mesmerized by his infectious dance moves and funk-inspired songs. Throughout the set I found myself feeling more and more like I was actually good friends with Dev himself because his lyrics are so personal and often detail his experience growing up black in the world today. By the end of the set, I became a huge Blood Orange Fan and did not even realize he had played a full 12-song, hour-long set until he thanked the audience and danced off stage. One of my favorite things about a really good concert is when I don’t even pay attention to the time because I’m so into the show, and that definitely rang true Saturday night.

The show he put on was one of the funkiest, boppiest, and jam-filled shows I had ever been to, and not only do I recommend trying to see him live should you have the opportunity, but I recommend going and listening to Freetown Sound, which is definitely one of the best albums to come out of 2016. Blood Orange has to be one of the most fun and genuine acts out there right now and definitely brought a breath of fresh air to my Day for Night experience.

Thank you Dev Hynes for your fashion sense, your tunes, your dance moves, and your existence.

Jennifer Irving // Alphabet Soup

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Dec, 21 2016 

About this time last week, I had arrived to the first-ever Sound On Sound Fest. I was excited but nervous because I had no idea where I was. That’s the thing about SOS Fest — I didn’t know what to expect. Unlike most festivals, I had to travel almost an hour from the city to a remote location where I was supposed to find the Renaissance grounds.

Let me tell you: it was so worth it. The magical atmosphere brought together a group of very different people who all shared in the start of a brand new festival experience for Central Texas. If you did not go to Sound On Sound this year, I recommend that you try it out next year. Here are my reasons why:

The Lineup
Sound On Sound definitely had one of the strongest festival lineups of the year. Similar to the precedent Fun Fun Fun Fest, the lineup was heavy in hard rock, rap/hip hop, indie, experimental, and even included comedy acts. Some of my favorites were Beach House, Alex G, Car Seat Headrest, Purity Ring, and Deerhunter.

The Location

SOS Fest is located in McDade, Texas, which is where the Sherwood Forest Faire happens. The Renaissance atmosphere that was tucked away in the woods made it a destination worth venturing to. The festival organizers made sure to go all-out in creating a unique experience. The main stage, called Dragon’s Lair, had a huge dragon head peering from the top of the stage. There were turkey legs, people dressed in Renaissance garb, fun activities like axe throwing, and a castle. Not only is SOS a great place to enjoy music, it is a place to become immersed in another world.

The People

From what I gathered, Sound On Sound is for true music fans. Everyone I encountered, whether it was someone I knew or a complete stranger, was really passionate about the acts that they saw. It was all love at the fest, even though some of the mosh pits got a little bit too intense. Aside from that, the festival fashion was amazing. Guys and gals were serving looks all around.

I would like to thank Sound On Sound for creating one of my new favorite things. I am looking forward to the lineup for next year and I can’t wait to see the growth of the festival in the years to come.

Kanya Maliwan // Pants Optional

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Dec, 21 2016 

I have the best luck sometimes. Exhibit A: the AJJ show on the 20th. I remember seeing that they were coming to Austin and immediately asking my friend Cameron if he wanted to go. He introduced me to them nearly a year earlier when they were still going by Andrew Jackson Jihad. For a month we talked about how awesome the show was going to be and how excited we were to see them.

Eventually, the day finally came and I was jumping off the walls. We drove down to Mohawk and immediately entered in a state of jubilation. After a beer, we watched the opening act Chris Farren who was undoubtedly one of the best one-man shows I have ever seen. He is best known for his work with Jeff Rosenstock in Antarctigo Vespucci but his solo work is a wonder to behold. Playing on top of premixed drums, his symphonic guitar playing and beautiful voice shine. He was also hilarious between songs, cracking jokes and telling everyone how much he loved us.

Following him was Diners, a band from Tucson. My friend described them as “desert rock” and it made sense why. The frontman Tyler Broderick had a soft yet eerie voice that grounded the light, and twinkly guitar and keyboard parts. I fell in love with their song “15 on a Skateboard” and proceeded to listen to it on repeat for the next few days. Their music has an addictive groove that quickly causes them to burrow into your mind. They were an incredible band to see, and one of the best discoveries of the evening.

Finally, after much anticipation, AJJ came on stage. My heart was beating so fast I could not even process what was happening. The clearest thing I remember was saying, “I love this song” before pretty much every song. An especially great moment was when they played “Junkie Church,” my favorite song off their newest album The Bible 2. There were several moments where the crowd would get into a frenzy, singing and pushing, loving the music. That is one of the best things about AJJ, the way their music is so incredibly upbeat and reassuring, even though they talk about how much life can suck. It is relatable on the rawest level.

The best part was when they closed out the show with Cameron’s favorite song, Big Bird. The minute it started, I had to turn to him and see what was happening. He was swaying back and forth, eyes fixed on the band, and he started to sing. Seeing him in that moment almost felt like I was intruding on something personal. I had to look away and let him take it in by himself. I sang along, too, knowing that this moment was one for the memory log. After the show, he thanked me and gave me a hug, and I knew I couldn’t have asked for a better gift to give him than that moment because music is the greatest gift of all.

Melody Swope // Third Coast Radio

  Blog, Concert Recap  /    Oct, 31 2016 

Busdriver on October 14th 2016 at the Flamingo Cantina

Conscious rap is one of the most under-appreciated genres in my opinion; it is rap music that makes you think about concepts deeper than money and women. Regan Farquhar, also known as Busdriver, has been practicing this art form since he was a kid. In the words of Milo (another conscious rapper who is very much inspired by Busdriver) “[Driver] raps like the eldest sap of the Everglade/ His raps move heat like thermostats adjusting centigrade.”

Doors were at 9 and openers started at 10, but I showed up at about 11:45. I caught the end of a rapper named Metasota, and even though I only saw the last couple songs, when I got home that night, I immediately bought his most recent album entitled #RUMDMT. After Metasota I got a sticker from his merch desk and got to talk to him for a few moments; he is a fucking cool dude. His raps remind me of a more energetic Earl Sweatshirt.

Driver started at about 12:10 AM and it was a sight to behold. Busdriver is one of the fastest rappers I have ever heard; he’s up there with Daveed Diggs or Busta Rhymes. I noticed during his show that every word shot from his mouth was accompanied by some sort of hand gesture. During each song, his hand waved furiously in the air or his fingers flicked with each lyric, making it look as though he was tickling the atmosphere of the room. I have never been hit with such a barrage of powerful language; each bar carried some kind of critique on this day and age. At one point he did his own version of the Flying Lotus song “Never Catch Me”, which took everyone by surprise. A lot of the songs performed were from his most recent album entitled Thumbs, which I highly recommend. You can find that here.

Some of my favorites from the set were “Imaginary Places,” “Much,” “Hyperbole 2,” “Great Spooks of Enormous Strength,” “Worlds to Run,” “Ministry of the Torture Couch,” and “Black Labor (as understood by Equiano).” After the show, I tried to get a station ID from him but I could see how exhausted he was, proving that he put his whole being into the performance. Overall, this was a great experience: 9.5/10. It would have been a ten, but the barefoot guy standing in front of me smelled like feet.

Jack Riggs