There’s little I can say to add to the conversation about our reigning Best in
(though that’ll change when next week’s <i>Gazette</i> hits the
racks), except that the last two years, while being low-key in terms of
activity, have definitely preserved their live skill as players.
The Non are
experimental and progressive, sure, but you can count on them being consistent
in that progression, wherever and whenever they play. I still have yet to see
them play show that’s anything less than thrilling.
But yeah, they did their usual instrumental ping-pong in space thing we all
love so much. It was Zach Zeller’s (pictured) second show of the night, and bassist Tom
Bishop and guitarist Wil Norton flew in from Norman (Bishop’s a certified pilot)
and out in the same night, just to play. Gotta admire that determination.
Not sure what it’s called but, the Norman/Tulsa punkers opened up with
something that had “gotta get — gotta get it” in the chorus, and it was catchy
as hell, but in a bouncy, rhythmic way. Very different from “Try Me Out
Sometime”’s melodic catchiness.
Credits: Insert Credits...
Nonetheless, Broncho remain catchy, grungy, unserious in demeanor (there’s
something kind of unsettling about watching three
late-twenties/thirty-something dudes all droning in unison into their
respective microphones, their eyes fixed upon something seemingly hours away),
and hella loud. The crowd for their set was bigger than any in the Buffalo
Lounge yet, and we’ll see if anybody on tonight’s bill (which includes Fiawna
Forte, Green Corn Revival, Jacob Abello, Junebug Spade, JD McPherson, and OK
Sweetheart) can step up and draw more.
They may not be aiming, high, but The Boom Bang are sure realistic.
Singer James Smith announced to The Buffalo Lounge earlier this evening that
the garage-housed four-piece were “probably the worst band to play here all
night.” He was kinda right, but that didn’t make their set any
Smith mumbled his way through their usual schtick: noisy, propulsive rock
styled after The Ramones’ sonic blitz and Andrew W.K.’s intentionally stupid
revelry. It was a tie-loosening; a rowdy break in between two much headier
bands — The Defining Times and The Non — that brokered the evening’s bill of
rock acts nicely.
The show ended with a brief episode involving the sound guy, who chased a fan
off the stage when the latter yelled “Fuck you!” into a microphone, shortly
after McKenzie and drummer Brian Whetstone traded places for a final, scuzzy
jam. If ever there was a better end to a Boom Bang show, I wasn’t there for it.
The day-long party was celebrated with Cloud Nothings, Bob Mould and The Roots.
After three days of hiking all over a dirty, crowded Sixth Street crawling with exhausted hipsters, I decided to hit up the famed Austin venue Mohawk (with its highly convenient indoor-and-outdoor stage setup) for a nice balance of old and new, rock and fusion, folk and punk to cap my excursion to South by Southwest. It didn’t disappoint.
Blitzen Trapper I’ve seen Portland’s Blitzen Trapper twice before — once at Opolis in Norman, again at London’s Camden Barfly, which is a whole ’nother story entirely — and the band has been a longtime favorite of mine for its earlier, more pastoral albums like Wild Mountain Nation and Furr, which are more creative, indie takes on the classic rock radio I grew up on. It’s a seminal band for me, the first whose work first I actively started following online, which is sort of what I do for a living now.
I was hoping Blitzen Trapper would dip back into that catalogue (and it did, playing the vivid murder ballad it will probably be best remembered for, “Black River Killer”), but hung on to its newer, country-riding American Goldwing material for the most part, which I haven’t much cared for. So I split a little early for the Mohawk’s indoor stage to see …
Cloud Nothings After hearing Brooklyn rock monsters The Men with Stephen Carradini on Friday, he and I were wandering around when the unmistakable intro riff to “Wasted Days” suddenly beckoned us around a corner. By the time Dylan Baldi was howling about how he knew his life wasn’t gonna change, we were watching Cloud Nothings play the last song on its set, an eight-minute hardcore epic from its excellent new album, Attack on Memory. We got super-depressed when the band started packing up, so the opportunity to hear one of the loudest acts at the festival inside a closet of a venue got my excitement perked up again.
After a few failed attempts of shooting the band on the decently lit indoor stage, I just said, “Screw it,” and turned on my flash, as there was no possible way of getting unblurred shots of these dudes without it. They were playing songs like “Fall In” and “Stay Useless” much too fast, with too much power to do that.
But the most remarkable part of it all was how Baldi’s voice held up after a week of unrestrained hollering. It sounded just as strained, but sturdy as it does on the album. Unfortunately, Cloud Nothings didn’t inspire the same rambunctious crowd activity as Titus Andronicus did the previous day, but its members are just much too skilled as players for the audience to do anything but focus on them and admire their combination of speed and dexterity, particularly that of drummer Jayson Gerycz.
Bob Mould Playing with the prolific Jon Wurster on the drums, Bob Mould wound through a career’s worth of heavily distorted and purely pleasurable post-Hüsker Dü songwriting, including Sugar’s classic, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” It felt like a reunion that ended all too soon, with an older crowd singing along with the choruses, and Mould shrugging and pointing at his wrist in between the last two songs. There wasn’t any doubt in the guy’s showmanship, however — his pale face turned Fender-guitar red and gushed sweat by the set’s end.
Also worthy of note: I was hanging out in the back of the crowd when I noticed Dylan Baldi wander in from outside the venue, and subsequently watched him take in the show for a few minutes. It was a beyond-cool experience to watch one of hardcore’s latest innovators watch one of its greatest innovators.
The Roots And that all gave way to the top-billing Philly soul-fusion-hip-hop act The Roots, which appropriately played for a rowdy St. Patrick’s Day crowd. I was a little disappointed in the lack of material from their latest, the terrific, socially conscious undun, but not surprised, as this wasn’t the time or place for that stuff. Instead, they played a few of their best-loved easy-listening hits like “The Seed” and covers of “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Apache,” “Immigrant Song” and “Jungle Boogie.”
Also worth noting: Damon Bryson literally taking his tuba for a walk on a solo, as he hiked up and down the Mohawk’s staircase to mix it up with the crowd.
The Rockettops play a brand of pop-rock that fans of The Fray would
enjoy, as the sound is built on piano-based songwriting, deft bass lines
and soaring guitar lines. Vocalist/pianist/acoustic guitarist Jordan
Smith's impassioned voice also soars, and it's his vocal melodies that
get precedence in these songs. But the rest of the band doesn't slack in
its support role; the instrumental interplay is strong, especially for a
band in the pop/rock vein.
The band clearly was having a blast, as the members were smiling and
laughing throughout. The upbeat atmosphere filled the room, especially
when the band ratcheted up the distorted guitars in big crescendos. The
Rockettops know how to build and release tension, and that serves their
pop-rock songs very well. The tension never feels forced or smarmy,
either; the sound feels organic and loose. They can also break it down
for emotive moments; they aren't a one-trick pony. Fans of Lifehouse,
Goo Goo Dolls, and Matchbox Twenty will perk their ears up at The