In an interview by film critic Roger Ebert, Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory denied that they were playing themselves in their 1981 film My Dinner With Andre. They stated that if they remade the film they would swap the two characters to prove their point. That’s all well and good, but we’re asking ourselves a different question: what if the characters of Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory were played by house cats? Let’s find out.
thinktwiceradio.com for the Andrew Gregory sample w/ music, moviesoundscentral.com for Wallace Shawn samples,Dan Butler & Melanie Westerberg for the actors, Acoustica Mixcraft & Windows Movie Maker for Mixing and Editing, and most importantly Wallace Shawn & Andre Gregory for Inspiration
Let’s take a trip back to Novemeber 1999. I was a Senior in High School not taking a full schedule of classes, working a part time job at the Council Bluffs Target, and spending as much time as humanly possible going to shows at the Cog Factory in Omaha, NE. Hell, my part time work schedule got built around the shows I wanted to go to.
November 1999 holds the distinction of introducing me to Apocalypse Hoboken. I didn’t know anything about them really, beyond that they had advertisements in Flipside and Punk Planet. And that the vocalist Todd Pot wrote seriously twisted columns for Spank fan zine (under the title “penisdragwhoreolympics”). But, like most of the shows I went to at the Cog, it was only $5 and something to do.
I don’t really remember much about the actual show, other than Todd Pot’s extended rants about pills & blow and going on tour with AFI (who he kept calling “Affy”). He seemed pretty off kilter. I ate it up and picked up a copy of “House of the Rising Son of A Bitch”. Which I proceeded to play and play and play. The songs- the subjects- just everything about this record was so wrong and so awesome at the same time.
Jump ahead to 2011 and It’s still one of my favorite albums. I knew this record was twisted when I got it, but as I’ve gotten older it just sinks in more and more how twisted it really is. Songs like “Pulling Worms Apart”, “Hazelnut”, and “Tickeled Pink” so poetically string together their subject matter that you almost miss their references to childhood traumatic abuse, abusive relationships, STD’s, drugs, and an entire list of urbandictionary.com-worthy sexual acts. Granted, not all of the songs are all about shock value, but there is literally nothing nice being put out there on this record. And for some reason I’ve never stopped listening to it. Still, all the aside, there’s nothing sad in the veins of Bright Eyes or those days of the early 2000’s self absorbed emo rock on this record. Just the facts, ma’am. Twisted? Yes. Wrong? Yes. Rocking? Yes- veritably, yes!
My fifth SXSW just ended. Tomorrow I go back to work and take a break from festivals until Chaos in Tejas rolls around in June. That won’t be it for rock shows- Devo is playing the Moody Theater next week and I will be in attendance shaking my shit in a manner acceptable to the music in the GA floor section. But, SXSW is a thing unto itself, and as an Austin local now, for a little over four years, I’m still enjoying that little spring break.
I have not blogged in the recent past very much. I’ve hd other things on my mind and on my plate for awhile and airing all of that over the internet seems self indulgent and unneccessary. The short of the long story is that I stopped drinking in November 2009. And I’ve been fine. It’s been great. But, as a result of that, I am just aro not around boozing, spectacle boozing, spring break boozing, and St. Patrick’s Day boozing all at the same time very often. Only during SXSW. Last year was my first dry SXSW. It went fine, though I did get nervous often. I had similar experiences this year. Not a big deal though. If I wasn’t cool with a place I didn’t stay in it longer than I needed to. Anyway, that’s not what I want to really talk about at all. That’s just background information.
There’s way more to SXSW than drinking yourself to the gills. It happens to combine a lot of my favorite activities. Walking, seeing bands play, successfully attending sold out shows, eat food out of trailers, comradery with friends, and no responsibilities except having a good time for a few days. I’ve been doing Wednesday-Saturday the past few years and have seen a lot of great stuff. This year was no exception.
I started Wednesday off early with Keef. We went and got in line at Plush for the Topshelf Records showcase. Plush is a tiny little dump that holds about 120 people. We got in and got free merch and stayed for two bands: The Clippers and the World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am Not Afraid To Die. The Clippers were a pop punk band and a fun start to the festivities. The World is…(I am not typing that fucking name over and over again, even if complaining about it takes up more space) were a post-rock outfit. I did not care for their sung vocal parts. When they got loud or gruffer they killed.
We left after that for a show with less of a line and headed to the Brooklyn Vegan party at Emo’s. There we met up with our friend Erin and her boyfriend Adam, who were in town from New York for the festival. We saw Annamanguchi and Turbo Fruits, and stood around and chatted for a bit in the court yard while A Place To Bury Strangers played. Growing bored and hungry we headed over to the trailer court food court at the East Side Drive and got lunch. I ate at Bits & Druther’s and had Fish & Chips. It was delicious.
SXSW schedules being what they are, we all ended up going our seperate ways. I decided to wander around for awhile and found myself wandering to the Can’t Stop Bleeding party at Beerland. I like that club. I enjoy a lot of the bands that play there. I caught one act: Population 1280 and didn’t dig it and left. As Beerland is a cave and I was then out in the sun again, I decided that the sun felt good and hiked my way across I35 to go see what was happening at the French Legation Museum.
I like the French Legation Musuem because I like being able to sit down occasionally and cool my heels when I’m walking around all day. It’s a good spot for doing that. There are plenty of places to sit around in. I saw Still Corners, who were kind of folky, kind of boring, but killed time wonderfully. Once my feet felt like moving again I wandered back to Emo’s and into the same day party I’d been at earlier during the day.
There was a band on stage. I thought they were boring. I thought the singer was trying too hard to sound like Bono or Morrissey or both of them. It turned out that band was Surfer Blood. I had experienced similar feelings of dislike when I saw them open for Superchunk last year. So, there we have it: I don’t like Surfer Blood. Keep that in mind.
As soon as the day show ended, they kicked everyone out of Emo’s, I went and got a slice of pizza, and then went back to Emo’s to stand in a two hour line so I could get into the Bad Brains show (sponsored by Vans) later on.
Let’s talk about what standing in a 2 hour line on Sixth Street is like. It starts sucking five minutes into. It keeps sucking because you end up checking the time awhole lot and that makes it seem even longer. You constantly get hit up for change. And when the venue decides to move the line off the curb and into the street. You have pockets of people walking past you every few seconds like the current in a river. It’s hell, if you didn’t pick up on that already. Your legs tighten up. Your back gets sore. You don’t really move a whole lot. But I did it this year. And I’ll do it again in the future. I got into the show and got to see Trash Talk, OFF! (whom I dislike), and Bad Brains. Trash Talk were pretty by-the-numbers-hardcore, but I did like the way they made my friend Barb sing over their music. It was incredible. OFF! I don’t like after having seen them at Fun Fun Fun Fest in November. Keith Morris’ stage demeanor is a little irritating. Bad Brains on the other hand- HOLY SHIT. That was great. Dr. Know shreds still. They played hardcore and reggae songs. They played “Pay to Cum” and “Sailin’ On”. I never expected to see them.
I’ve found myself saying that over and over again ever since I moved to Austin.
After Bad Brains I headed over to the Dirty Dog Bar to meet up with my friend Thad and see a band he was into called Fake Problems. I’d never heard them before. They’re from Gainesville, Florida and they don’t sound like Less Than Jake or Hot Water Music. They played almost kinda Springsteenish pop punk. They were fun. I saw two other bands there early on, one I didn’t even get the name of because I didn’t need to know. The other was White Arrows, who were electronic mostly, and fairly interesting.
Then I went home and went to bed. There was more to see in the next few days still.
Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day. I slept until 11 and didn’t get downtown until around 1:30 when they sun had come out. I was not looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day crowd. That during SXSW just adds a certain nastiness to the drunkeness level of the people who are out. And St. Paddy’s Day was no different this year. I went to the Trophy Room for the SXCHI Chicago Invades Austin showcase. It seemed a fitting choice to do that for St. Patrick’s Day, at least.
I saw The Bears of Blue River, The Hounds Below, In Tall Buildings, True Womanhood, Wave Array, Bob Nanna, and Smoking Popes. I only was really there for the openers to make sure I got to see Bob Nanna and Smoking Popes. My favorites of the early bands were In Tall Buildings and True Womanhood. In Tall Buildings were more mathy art rock and True Womanhood were largely electronic. I would’ve loved to have seen Braid instead- especially with them working on new material- but Bob Nanna solo was awesome too. He played covers of Lifter Puller’s “Secret Santa Cruz” and Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come On Eileen”. I had a good spot for the set too. Smoking Popes played “Rubella” and “Need You Around”. They were a lot of fun. I’d seen Duvall when I lived in Iowa City, but never had seen the Caterer Brothers as the Popes before. After their set, I walked out onto Sixth Street, observed that everyone was stinking drunk and walked home. I didn’t go out again until later.
When I went out again, I checked out the Burger City Records showcase at Spiderhouse Ballroom with my friend Thad. I saw Apache, Fleshlights, John Wesley Coleman, Personal & The Pizzas, OBNIIIS, White Wires, Barerracudas, and Mean Jeans. The best acts were Fleshlights, Personal & The Pizzas, White Wires, and Mean Jeans. Personal & The Pizzas were great! Hilarious. I enjoyed their banter immensely. It was a good show.
St. Patrick’s Day was pretty low key in contrast to the day before. That was intentional. I made the decision to be lazy when I got home on Wednesday night. I was on vacation afer all. No reason to not relax. Relaxing through SXSW became my mission from here on out.
I slept in until noon and didn’t head out until 1:30. I went to the High Tea for Nitwits at the Dog & Duck Pub for lunch and saw Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves, Ethan Azarian and Doug Gillard. I ate Fish & Chips there too. Delicious. Ethan Azarian is a local folk musician and painter. I would make small children listen to his records to scare them. That’s what I would do. I’m trying to find out where to buy them. He had a singin’ saw player who sang back up vocals through a telephone receiver they’d mic’ed that provided an eerie contrast to the music. Doug Gillard’s set was awesome too. I love Guided by Voices and I love getting to see their related projects.
From there I walked downtown and got coffee. And then met up my friends Erin & Adam, and then met up with our friends Barb and Keef and their collected ensemble at Cafe Crepe for crepes. The crepes hit the spot. Fueled and ready for more rock and roll, I headed off to the Hilton to meet up with my friend Thad so we could walk to the Screeching Weasel show at Scoot Inn.
We went to the Fat Wreck Chords showcase. We saw The Biters, Banner Pilot, Dead to Me, The Flatliners, and Screeching Weasel. There was a $20 cover. I dug Banner Pilot & The Flatliners. I was excited to see Screeching Weasel. But, as life would have it, something incredibly awful happened during their set:
“Screeching Weasel singer Ben Weasel was involved in an on-stage altercation Friday evening (March 18) at Austin’s Scoot Inn as part of SXSW.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday (March 19), the singer made repeated comments regretting the band performing in Austin before being hit by an ice cube. Weasel confronted the fan who tossed the ice cube — reportedly a woman — and asked them to come on stage to fight before approaching the fan and throwing a punch.”
I paid $20 to see that. He ranted and raved like Charlie Sheen between every song. He was an incredible asshole. He fired his entire staff and rehired them later on in the set. Up until the point he jumped into the crowd and attacked those women, I thought he was just playing a character. There is currently some debate on if that event was staged or not (NOFX member and Fat Wreck Chords President Fat Mike pulled a prank of some notoriety last year during SXSW where he made people think they drank his piss), but it was a pretty intense thing to witness.
I tried to meet friends at the Cedar St Courtyard following that show, but couldn’t get in, and walked home processing the events of the Screeching Weasel show. Crimany.
I woke up early on Saturday. I had to be downtown by 12:45 for the New Granda Day Records showcase at the Ghost Room. Joan of Arc were playing and I wasn’t going to miss that. I love that band a lot. I first saw them play in Iowa City opening for Jets to Brazil in 2000. I’m amazed at how many other bands they’ve outlived. I try to catch them whenever they’re around. The instrumentals were tight. Tim Kinsella’s signature scream came out during their last song. I also saw Versus, whom I really wasn’t paying attention to as I spent most of their set drinking a cup of coffee to wake up.
After Joan of Arc I headed towards the Convention center to meet Keef, Paul & Liz, and headed for the East Side drive in to the Mess With Texas Party. The Dead Milkmen were playing at 7:45 and we were going to spend the entire day there. We only watched a few things. Mostly we just hung out and lazed. Took trips to the food court next day for things. Watched Ted Leo and Mind Eraser. Accidentally caught Surfer Blood while working on making our way up in the crowd. Saw !!! and then the Dead Milkmen.
The Dead Milkmen were great. They opened with Taco Land and the set, ncluded Tiny Town, I Walk The Thinnest Line, Punk Rock Girl, Methodist Coloring Book, Gary Numan’s Cars, Bitchin’ Camaro, Smokin’ Banana Peels, Right Wing Pigeons From Outerspace, VFW, Suart, and Big Lizard in My Backyard. The new tunes were great too and I just purchased their new album this morning.
From the Dead Milkmen show I headed over to Elysium on Sixth Street to try and get into a showcase that I knew Yoko Ono was performing on at 1 AM. I got there right after nine and just in time for the first act. This was the Chimera music showcase and ended up being one of my very favorite things this year. They kept closing and reopening public ticket sales at this showcase. I’d gotten there right when sales were cut off and got in. This put a chink in our plans for getting people to that show, however. I had to text friends and let them know about the line situation.
The first act was If By Yes, who it turns out features Petra Haden (of That Dog, the Rentals, and a lot of other interesting projects) and longtime Mike Watt collobrater Nels Cline. The harmonies were beautiful. The music rootsy and spacey at the same time. I dug it a lot.
Next up was Consortium Musicum, a noise project by Sean Lennon (yes, THAT Sean Lennon) and Greg Saunier of Deerhoof. It reminded me of Lightning Bolt in some ways, but it was totally it’s own beast. The drumming was amazing. The AV display was quite colorful and interesting. I dug their set a lot too.
Following that were two Japanese acts: Fig and Mi-Gu. Fig was spacier music. Mi-Gu was full of noisy rock jams. My friends Dan and Melanie managed to get into the show at this point and we were all reunited to see Yoko Ono. Apparently, sales had been opened and closed again a few times during the night while I had been inside the show. Good information to remember for future reference. Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, the last thing I saw for SXSW 2011 was Yoko Ono with her newest incarnation of the Plastic Ono Band (featuring members of Cibo Matto, Mr. Bungle, and John Lennon’s offspring himself, Sean Lennon). They were great. Tons of instruments. Yoko’s signature yowl. The room was loving it. The band was loving it. It was totally different than the Screeching Weasel showcase had been. No drama, just music.
After that we caught the 481 to Kerney Lane, at a late late meal, and I finally went to bed around 4 AM. There you have it. SXSW 2011.
Man, I used to update this thing all the time. Maybe it’s time to start doing that again. Yes, that seems about right.
I got my Fun Fun Fun Fest ticket today:
I’m totally excited to see Devo, Snapcase, Mastadon, Bad Religion, The Hold Steady, Monotonix, The Gories, Cap’n Jazz, and the Dwarves. I’m suspicious about Weird Al Yankovich, but I’ll probably catch a little bit of his set anyway. It can’t be too bad, I don’t think (granted this is coming from the same guy who stood through an entire confusingly stupid hour of Andrew WK spoken word).
I turned 29 four days ago. Yep, still getting older. Here’s why I felt older today: In addition to Fun Fun Fun Fest, I’ll be seeing the Pixies and Guided By Voices in September. These are all advance ticket purchases. I felt old because there are tickets involved for things I’m not even going to do for another 2-3 months. Look at all that planning ahead. Fuckin’ old fart!
Things have been pretty chill for awhile. I started working from home in February and I’ve been exercising a lot more. I started running again. I haven’t done a lot of that in the past few years and the running has started to feel really good to me again. I like listening to music, focusing on the run and my pacing, and being out in the sun when I get the chance (if it’s really hot out, I run after 9pm when the sun goes down). It feels good too. I go five days a week and rest two days. Usually I try to keep my running days as the same days that I’m working because it’s especially nice to leave the house for 30-40 minutes following work after being home all day long. I may be spending a lot more time at home than I used to, but I make sure to get out of the house as much as possible when I can.
Lipstick Homicide, “Isn’t it Glorious?”, Public School Records
Friday night I checked out the Bassturd show at Headhunter’s with Iowan acts Grism and Lipstick HomIcide. I bought a cd from Lipstick HomIcide and I’ve gotta give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.
I haven’t heard a full on pop-punk band done right in years. That changed last night. Lipstick HomIcide is pop-punk done right. Everything about this record is what I used to always want from music. It’s got hooks a plenty, break neck beats, and roaring guitars. It’s got fist pumping anthems a plenty. In the 24 hours the cd has been in my possession I’ve already listened to it six times through. I’ve even repeated a few tracks in a row- “paper route”, “solitaire”, and “Call it Art” have gotten more than just a few repeats.
It reminds me of bands like the Muffs, Mary Tyler Morphine, and Cleveland Bound Death sentence, while still retaining a charm all it’s own.
You can download the album directly from Public School Records HERE.
I read the menu like the morning paper,
looking for something familiar
and interesting and possibly tasty
that I can chew on for awhile and
walk away from satisfied.
Two eggs, toast, fresh fruit and someone
got shot last night in a parking
lot I’ve never been to.
I’m not having it.
French toast, hash browns, and a protest
at the Capitol Building- something
about abortion- these omelettes
have no yolks. I sigh.
Biscuits & Gravy, Chicken Fried Steak, and
the Death Penalty isn’t just the
cholesterol. The state execution
toll just hit seventeen for the year.
I examine the contents of my wallet
and assess my national budget.
The wait staff buzz about like talking heads
on a cable television pundit show.
I’m thinking about a life spent
“Can I take your order?” asks the Waitress
as effortlessly as one exhales.
I place my order and she nods
distantly, almost disappointed. I
think she wanted something else
The waitress leaves for the kitchen and
I read my bus schedule as though
it were a menu. The number one
and the number five both look good
but I wish there was a lunch special.
Perhaps the whole world is a restaurant
of one sort or another with decisions
made to order and consequences
delivered with a bill and a peppermint.
There are just as many options
in a buffet line.
Must I wait to be seated when I’d
rather seat myself?
Oh Bad Cafe-
I left you like a one night stand
and nearly as satisfied.
I left you like a one night stand
and nearly as hungover.
Oh Bad Cafe-
You pulled back the curtains
and said “GET OUT!” in not
so many words. I’m not sure
why I came inside you.
Oh Bad Cafe-
Neither of us got what
we wanted. I wanted comfort
and you wanted a tip. I
wanted a refill and you
rolled your eyes as if to say
Oh Bad Cafe-
That hair net just doesn’t
compliment you. Those stains
on your apron just show
how many others were here
Oh Bad Cafe-
We both had a cigarette
afterwards and neither of
us said a word. You just
shook your head and I
couldn’t look at you the
Oh Bad Cafe-
There was a short hair
in my waffles and roaches
in your toilet. What will
the Health Inspector say?
Oh Bad Cafe-
I’m going to tell all my
friends about you like this:
STAY THE HELL AWAY.
Tater tots are all they’ve got
that I can’t get somewhere else.
They remind me of being a kid
in public school back in Iowa.
They let you park your car
and eat in the parking lot
under neon lights drawing
“Drive in restaurants were a big deal
after living through the Depression”
my Grandma once tried to tell me.
I’d suppose anything hinting at
prosperity would look good next
to relief lines & ration stamps,
so who are they kidding?
Sonic is the boom that follows
digestion. I’ll be dropping gut
bombs on the porcelain city tonight.