Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Bang Bang Rock & Roll
It sometimes seems like Austin is becoming a home away from home and if that’s the case, then the Mohawk and Club DeVille are my home at home away from home. Following up on the Hot Freaks blogger party we threw during SxSW back in March, the folks from An Aquarium Drunkard, La Blogothèque, Brooklynvegan, Gorilla vs Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, You Ain’t No Picasso and myself joined forces to put together a second event coincidentally timed with but absolutely unconnected to the Austin City Limits Festival.
The Hot Freaks! Part Deux, as some of use were calling it, were after parties across two nights at the aforementioned clubs sponsored by the good people at Dell Lounge.com and featured some terrific local and international acts in a tag-team set up between the two stages. Also nice was the fact that both clubs had undergone some extensive renovations since March and were now sporting improved lighting rigs, capacities and sightlines. Throw in packed houses both nights and you had a party and a half.
Things both nights opened with the winners of a battle of the bands-type contest sponsored by Dell called The Sound & The Jury and though something like that could have been cringeworthy, Homer Hiccolm & The Rocketboys, as the winners were called, turned out to be alright. Young and fresh-faced, they offered up a set of earnest pop in the vein of Coldplay or fellow young and fresh-faced Texans, Eisley. Except all boys.
Openers on the Friday night on both stages could have been flip sides of the same Austin-based coin, though that might just be because they shared the same drummer. Both traded in skittery indie pop but Brazos leaned slighly towards the gentler, folkish end of things while White Denim – playing under the pseudonym of Crazy Sexy Rainbow to avoid a double-booked scolding – were considerably more frantic and in-your-face. Both were well-matched to their respective headliners… can you guess who was playing whom?
Grizzly Bear’s show was greatly enhanced by the Club DeVille setting – when lit by the rich green and purple lighting, the rock face behind the stage gave the impression of a mysterious and magical grotto, perfectly suiting the Bear’s hypnotizing, haunting and faintly medieval songs. Maybe they should get a faux rock wall backdrop and tour with it all the time.
The highlight of the night was, however, the UK’s Art Brut. While I’m not especially won over by the band on record – Eddie Argos’ spoken word rants over classic rock riffery don’t really translate in a studio setting – live, they’re fantastic. Argos is a hilarious frontman and whether he’s being sincere or ironic, he throws himself into the show – and occasionally the audience – 110%. His bandmates don’t hold back on the rock star moves either. Displaying a ruthless efficiency, they crammed upwards of twenty songs into their hour-long set, possibly every song they had, and still found time to take playful digs at the show’s sponsors. Exhausting, but so much fun. That Fall tour they’re doing with The Hold Steady is going to be one big sweaty orgy of shouting and pointing. I envy those who are going to be there. The Gateway and Georgia Straight have interviews with Art Brut.
Photos: Art Brut, Crazy Sexy Rainbow, Homer Hiccolm & the Rocketboys @ The Mohawk – September 14, 2007
Photos: Grizzly Bear, Brazos @ Club DeVille – September 14, 2007
MP3: Art Brut – “Moving To LA” (acoustic)
MP3: Grizzly Bear – “On A Neck, On A Spit”
MP3: White Denim – “ShakeShakeShake”
MP3: Brazos – “Hands Up Little Gun”
Video: Art Brut – “Direct Hit” (YouTube)
Video: Grizzly Bear – “Knife” (YouTube)
MySpace: Art Brut
MySpace: Grizzly Bear
And that was just night one – a blast was had and there was still another party to go. But while I’m in a UK state of mind…
And some bits from NME that have elicited varying degrees of excitement from me – firstly, British Sea Power will release the five-song Krankenhaus? EP on November 20 (much excitement). Secondly, Graham Coxon is “raring to record” a new Blur record (moderate excitement, some trepidation). Thirdly, Spiritualized have finished their new album and will be releasing it in early 2008 (mild excitement, more fear that it’ll be as underwhelming as the last couple records).