Monday, May 12, 2008

Pennywise show at Emo's with Strung Out & Authority Zero

Tonight on this fine Mother's Day evening I found my way back to Emo's, only this time I was attending big show at their outside stage. My sister bought us tickets to go see Pennywise there along with Strung Out, Authority Zero, and local Austin punk act "The Anchor". I have seen Pennywise before, but it was over ten years ago at The Warped Tour. To tell you the truth, I couldn't remember what year it was exactly. They made many more albums since then, so I was looking forward to tonight.

We got there early and had a chance to hang out and check out the "merch" and have a pre-concert beer or two. While looking around the merch table, my sister strikes up a conversation with this bearded dude behind the Authority Zero merch section. He was a real friendly guy and was really proud of his department store shirt folding skills. Low and behold this bearded dude was none other than Authority Zero's lead singer, Jason Devore. My sister was stoked and we posed for pictures with him. My sister was stoked because she was always a big fan of theirs and is actually the one who turned me on to Authority Zero a few years back. As it turns out, the other merch guy for them at that moment was their bassist. He was cool too so I bought Authority Zero buttons from him. Yes, buttons.

The other interesting story I learned from the Authority Zero guys was that the ride for Strung Out broke down on the way to Austin. Their merch guy was the one going to pick them up and bring them back to Emo's. I was worried that they may not make it in time or may cancel. I just knew that it wasn't a good sign for them and felt bad for them.

Shortly after all of that, the show got started with an opening band from Austin called "The Anchor". They weren't bad really. Like one of their guitarists said to the crowd, "We don't suck as bad as you thought we would". Then someone yelled "You suck so good". They didn't suck. They didn't blow me out of the water but they held my attention and certainly didn't embarrass the hometown scene. I noticed from their myspace they play at Red 7 a lot. I might check them out again when they come back around to Austin.

Shortly after The Anchor was done, Authority Zero got started. To my knowledge, this was my first Authority Zero concert. I say that because they may have been a Warped Tour band back in the 90s when I would go every year it came around. memoery loss is the first sign other than gray hair that one is getting old. Anyway, their set totally kicked ass. It was a longer set than normal due to Strung Out running late. No complaints from me. At that point I already felt I was satisfied with the show.

Once Authority Zero ended their set, it took about a half hour before Strung Out began their set. People were hot from the humidity, had alcohol in their system, and were just starting to get restless. I was wondering if Strung Out was actually there or not. Well, they showed up alright. They were rushed, experienced the stress of a vehicle breakdown, and then one of the members had a glass bottle hit him. Despite that, they still gave a high energy show and showed Austin love. My only complaint was that it seemed like a pretty short set. Given the day they had, I will pardon them this once. Plus, their music is too good for me to be upset with them.

The madness really took full swing when Pennywise came on after another 20 minute wait in between sets. I was pumped and ready as I was up front right up against the stage. I knew in my head I was going to get even more sweaty and beat up than I already was from the previous sets. I snapped a couple of photos from the front before it got to crazy and I wasn't able to pull out my camera again. I lasted for five songs before I couldn't take anymore stage divers and elbows in my ribs. I could totally do that whole punk rock pit thing when I was younger, but I'm not 18 anymore. I can take it still, but my body aches now when before it didn't. One thing I dug from the Pennywise set was how lead singer Jim Lindberg he said "Austin is getting soft now with all this SXSW indie rock stuff happening". I feel the same way. Now all the hardcore stuff goes to San Antonio. Oh yeah, and Pennywise live in concert is an amazing experience.

So I left for the bar to get a beer and get out of harm's way. I then found my way back to the merch table to pick up a t-shirt from Authority Zero. I liked the shirts from the other bands, but since they were cool to us earlier I went ahead and bought one from them. I ended up talking to their drummer, Jim Wilcox.

Jim and I talked for a few good minutes. He told me the t-shirt I just bought was a Jason Devore design, the band's lead singer. Wilcox also mentioned that in regards to the shirts that he designed the others they wee selling. He says he does his graphic work mainly in Illustrator and some Photoshop. He is currently talking to the Pennywise people about designing a shirt for them and making it somewhat of a collector's edition t-shirt where only 100 or so are made. I hope that happens. I totally want one.

Designing t shirts and/or clothing is nothing new to Jim founded and designs for Ransom Apparel. Way to plug your brand Jim. Now I will eventually buy some shirts off the site and I even put a link in this blog. Finally I mentioned to him as I did to Jason Devore earlier, I wouldn't conclude my blog without griping about how they don't have any of their albums on vinyl. I told him that he would be pleasantly surprised at the results should they decide to press some high quality vinyl. It is not everyday you get to gripe to the bands you love in person. My hope is that Jim actually reads this and perhaps designs some awesome collectible art cover for the would be vinyl.

Oh, the show ended with Pennywise letting everyone and their dog come up on stage and sing with them. It was freaking nuts. The Emo's staff must have gone totally bananas after they did that. Here is what I got from that scene from my camera. Sorry about the low quality, but from what I got you'll get the idea.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Hottest Insite Magazine Party Ever....Literally

Tonight I went to an Austin Insite Magazine party at the Emo's Lounge. I got there around 11pm so I missed the two opening bands, but I was right on time for She Craves. Now I was familiar with She Craves long before tonight. I met them when doing marketing work for a tattoo shop (In The Flesh Tattoo Studio) and they were super cool. I saw them at the last Insite Magazine show I attended a few months back, also at Emo's Lounge. I dig them personally. From what I am told by other band friends of mine who know them, they haven't been together that long. Maybe a couple of years or so is what I hear. Despite not being together long, they do well together and usually give a good show. Tonight they were off compared to that last time I saw them, but with good reason. It was hot outside and super humid to say the least. That was outside. Inside the Emo's lounge, it was ten times worse. I needed a new t-shirt after waiting at the bar for a drink. People were fanning themselves, waiting to get their drinks before She Craves went on.

And another thing, why was there only one bartender working that night? It took soooo long to get two Lone Stars. Now understand this is not a gripe about the bartender's service. She was busting her butt behind the counter working herself to the bone. I feel for her. It was the same one bartender set up at the last Insite show. It was the same bartender and she was working by herself then. C'mon Emo's. Get her some help already. She handled it well but people get pissy waiting for drinks that long and it was hot as hell on top of that. I hope people were decent enough to tip her well. Girl if you are reading this, my hats off to you. I tipped you five bucks just for getting me two cheap beers.

Well after I got my drinks, She Craves got started. It was great because their intro song was the A-Team theme song. I don't know if that was their decision or the sound guy's, but it was cool none the less. They got started and it was still intolerably hot. I felt for the bands because they were hotter under those stage lights. They got going and I tried to enjoy myself. She Craves is a pop rock band with a little bit of a 90s alternative feel to them. The hardcore kids won't like them and neither will the hipster/scenester genre, but so what. There is nothing wrong with rock that appeals to the mainstream. Getting back to what I said earlier, this was not lead singer Christine Taylor's best show. The heat had to be getting to her. Plus She Craves tours a lot and that could be wearing on her as well. She still pleased the crowd, but the first show I saw from them was a lot more energetic. I am not normally so forgiving of bands for this, but that heat was beast. Only those who were there can truly know. I still dig them. My songs of choice from them are "You Move Me' and "Radio Days". "Radio Days" seems to be their single they're pushing so I provided you the video below in case you want to check it out.

Radio Days

After She Craves finished, I couldn't bare to stay any longer. It felt better outside than it did inside. I really wanted to stay and check out a band called Tungsten Coil that was having their CD release party. I had checked them out earlier on myspace just to see what they sounded like. I thought they might be worth checking out being the Insite Magazine cover boys this month. From I heard and saw on their myspace page, I wasn't really feeling them. I am just not into that "industrial" sound really. They seem to get some buzz around town and according to their myspace page, they got an Austin Music Award for "Best Industrial Band" for 2007/2008. I guess if that's your genre of choice, then maybe they are worth checking out. I was going to myself, but again, too damn hot. I felt bad for them especially since it was their CD release and all.

Finally I returned from another bar up the street to end my night with my friends The Banner Year. Not too many people stuck around for them at the one o'clock spot unfortunately. I couldn't stay for the whole show. Too hot. Did I mention that already? I got a funny story though from tonight for you readers, and a testament to how cool The Banner Year guys are. While I was standing outside talking to drummer Facundo La Rocca, he managed to pull in four ladies by basically paying for them to get in. What was so funny was his approach. He stepped up to them as a complete stranger and as a shameless self promoter. They apparently did not have enough cash to get in, so he paid for half. I was not sure if it was out of his pocket or the band's collective funds. They got in and watched part of the show at least, if not the whole show. Hopefully the boys made some new myspace friends and fans. Smooth Facundo. Way to use your Latin suave.

You may be wondering why
I am not reviewing them. I'm not going to review The Banner Year because we are good friends and it should be obvious that I like their sound a lot. I have mentioned they are my friends in a previous blog and will be at another show they have in July with The Material. I will recommend that show to anyone. Check them out for yourself. I hear they will be getting their myspace profile pimped out by Gwizsk Design soon. Good move fellas. Sorry you had to play a heat box of a venue tonight. Your black shirts must have been drenched.

Oh well, the next Insite showcase can only be better....or at least cooler.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Listening to Lysa Flores for the first time....

After a long day such as today, one thing I like to do is hang out with my lap dog and listen to some music. Now as much as I love Rage Against the Machine or Rancid, I just wanted something I could relax to tonight. I wasn't in the mood for country or jazz. As I looked through my Itunes, I remembered I burned some CDs the other day from someone else's music collection. The guy I borrowed the music from is really into Latin Alternative, a genre I figured out I have lots to learn about still. Well, one of the CDs I burned was by a woman out of East L.A. named Lysa Flores. This particular album I picked up was called "The Making of a Trophy Grrrl!".

I played the album with no expectations what so ever. I had never heard of her before yesterday, nor did I research her online the way I would with most artists. In fact, I am not sure why I picked up her CD to burn. It was just in a pile of CDs I grabbed to burn into my Itunes. I just wanted to hear some new stuff in this Latin Alternative genre. Once I clicked play on the album, I was immediately drawn in. It wasn't just background music anymore, as I actually began playing close attention to her voice, the lyrics, and the musicianship of it all.

So while I was listening, I "Googled" her and found both her website and myspace. According to her website bio ,she is a first generation Mexican American artist with three CDs to her credit. After looking through her pictures and listening to her music, she strikes me as the kind of person one would label or tag as "earthy" or "creative". There is definitely some element of Frida Khalo mixed with some Annie DeFranco.

Lysa Flores sings in both English and Spanish, which as a Latino I appreciate. While her English tracks are good, I think she sounds better in Spanish. Her song "En Que Te Falte" sounds like an early, raw Shakira. For those who don't know, Shakira was not always blonde and did not always sing in English. Before she "crossed over", she was more amazing than she is now. Now Flores is not the entertainer Shakira is, but certainly an amazing artist. Because I have no liner notes, I don't know who writes her songs but I imagine that she does most if it. Other noteable tracks I liked were "Novia" and "I won't forget you".

While doing more research online about Flores, I was disappointed that I did not see any Austin or even San Antonio dates coming up. In fact, there are zero Texas dates on her schedule thus far. Not chido Lysa. Not chido at all. Her album I just listened to is fantastic and it would be cool to see her live. Oh well, one day perhaps.