This year, I was incredibly happy to be involved with throwing the Eruption of the Real party that happened on Friday, March 18th at the Cherrywood Coffee House. Our partners, Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund and Secret Chief Management were the most awesome, helpful all around badasses with fantastic taste in music, and who know how to throw a great party. Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund is a really awesome organization that provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who can’t make ends meet while facing illnesses, disability or age related problems. They are involved in all kinds of projects to do so, and could and always will appreciate and use your donations to support musicians. So we all conspired to throw a day-party at Austin’s cutest coffee-house (with badass fucking burgers, if you’re in the market for one) with 22 great bands. Here’s some of the awesome craziness that ensued:
Beautiful Cherrywood Coffee House
Up first we had the great Dead Man’s Clothes from Portland, Maine (Yep, people live there! News to me, too). I know it’s a super cop out to describe some band as being ‘indie rock’, because you may as well say that there were some guitars, some vocals and a little bit of drums for as much as it describes something, but there’s really no other way to describe them. They had jangly guitars, nice vocals from a good lookin’ front man, and solid melodies: overall, it was really great. It may not have completely changed my world or stunned me or anything, but in the Austin sunshine with a beer in my hand, it was really nice.
After Dead Man’s Clothes, we had TRMRS. I’m going to try not to write an essay about how much I love these weird Costa Mesa punks and am so happy that they were added to the lineup. Since I wrote about them immediately when I got back from SXSW, I have had lots of time to listen to them and appreciate the live show so much. Definitely not digging on their recorded stuff (because it rules) but their live show is so damn compelling. I loves me a band that basically the same as a garage/trash pop TNT explosion of crazed energy — and while they were playing an early show, so there wasn’t, ahem, any head thrashing or jumping around — that’s something that I would do anytime I heard their music. They basically fulfilled every box I have for a band I like: surfy garage pop tunes, tons of energy, ridiculous clothing, at least one moustache, and at least one ridiculous hat. It all really works – I like their ethos and I like their songs. Best discovery of SXSW — and bonus points for being able to see them constantly in LA/the OC.
mp3 | TRMRS – Zombie Party
Finally! Atlanta’s Carnivores were on next. They were one of the bands I was super excited to have play, and to see play for the first time. And holy hell, was the wait worth it. I’ve been pretty much in love with their peculiar brand of kind of psychy-garage rock. They delivered one of the best sets of the whole day. Not only did they go hard the entire time, but Philip and Caitlin had some really great dance moves — I particularly liked the way Caitlin slaved over the keyboard helping to add those weird but absolutely entrancing melodies. The shared vocals between the classically trained pianist Caitlin, sparse and dry guitarist Nathan, and the bright and pogoing vocals from bassist Philip worked really well — each has something different to offer to each song that makes their songs feel more variegated and fresh. The two highlights from their set most definitely had to be ‘Dressed For the Rain‘ which is a UK exclusive that kills me on record, but slays me live in a completely different way. It’s such a weird funky little song that will get stuck in your head SO easily — it’s actually kind of like perfect for the UK because it reminds me so much of making your way through a really foggy disgusting day after something really strange happened to you. I hope that’s what they’re going for, because they fucking nailed it. Second highlight was for sure the brilliant and strange ‘Georgia Power Company‘. I beg you guys, get their stuff from Double Phantom, you’ll love it. And UK buds, get ready, we’re gonna hear alot about these guys soon…
Hasselblad photo by the stunning Rachel S. Peters
Hasselblad photo (with extra special ME) by the stunning Rachel S. Peters
Next up we had Los Angeles’ finest, Sweaters. Long term or short term readers of this blog will know how much we adore Sweaters, not just as one of the finest craftsmen of the most illustrious pop songs that I’ve ever heard. Not only are they deft songwriters, but they’re ridiculous and amazing people who wrote a book chronicling their Can’t Stop Winning Cult, of which I am a member, and was also founded before all this Charlie Sheen nonsense. They also put on a stunning show, that really stole the afternoon. Their particular brand of 70s inspired, glam pop that’s completely DIY has always converted any crowd and this one was no different. Running through their standard set of Bob-Dylan-referencing (When they ask yr real name, never give it) ‘Investigations‘, the forceful and unimaginably catchy ‘Killing A Man‘, the story of my life ‘Skymall‘, and the less-oft-played but still-amazeballs ‘Fruit on the Vine‘. They run the gamut from kooky to confused to unflappable to ecstatic to joyful, but Sweaters will always, and have always played sets that put a smile on my face in a way that no other band does. If they’re good at nothing else (false), you could say that the atmosphere that they create at gigs is worth the price of admission alone. Don’t sleep on these dudes, they really are LA’s finest.
mp3 | Sweaters – Killing A Man
photo courtesy of Dieter von Schramm
After Sweaters, we had to take a little break from baking in the Austin sunshine, but we came back out for a block of bands that was curated by Austins great John Wesley Coleman III who came and played with his band (featuring none other than ex-Strange Boy Matt Hammer on drums!) and ended up being one of the best surprises for me. Coleman played a really nice late-afternoon set that was packed with beautiful, fuzzy, boozy, bluesy gems. It was one of the sets that I think people enjoyed most. After was Brooklyn’s Fletcher C. Johnson who does his own project and moonlights as King Tuff’s backing band. On a completely selfish level, I’m super pleased Fletcher came to play as he brought King Tuff and I finally got the ‘Was Dead’ tape I’ve been after since last year when they sold out. But Fletcher’s set was really great as well. I really enjoyed his breezy, bluesy sort of countrified songs. Also he is adorable. Bonus points! Austin’s Fleshlights were a real treat, too. Any band who describes themselves by saying “We’re just kids that hate male pony tails and love to rock” is fucking A-OK in my book, as long as they rip as hard as Fleshlights do. And boy, did they rip hard and fast. Note to self: get more of their stuff. Last notable was Chapel Hill, NC’s Shit Horse. They were the most hilarious, engaging, strange band and their MC had the BEST pants I have ever seen. Kenny Bloggins over at The Decibel Tolls has some great photos. If anyone knows the frontman of Shit Horse, I’d really like to get my hands on some of the pictures he took at our show.
After the most relaxing, enjoyable, free beer afternoon, I finally got to see a mostly full set from Boulder’s School Knights. I say mostly because I spent about 3 hours running around like a crazy person, and I watched a teensy bit of TRMRS’ great semi-acoustic set. Seeing them do a longer set than the day before, my first time seeing them as a 3-piece was incredible. They were louder than ever, and holy shit, do they sound good on an excellent PA and for not having played much together as a trio, were tight as fuck. They played all of my favorites: a crashing and reverbed out version of ‘Fuck The Beach‘, a semi-sloppy but completely on point version of ‘Never Needed‘, and the perfect set closer (my absolute favorite, and best song I’ve heard in so long) ‘Lunch Money‘. They also played a new instrumental song that sounded really, really good. I know that I go on all the time, constantly, about how these dudes slay/rip asses/kill etc but I just really think that they’re super talented. Their ability to craft supremely catchy garage/punk/power/pop songs is unparallelled for any band whose been together for as short of a time as they have. I can sense a little frustration in the way they play, waiting for their album to get released — they’re changing songs and writing new songs and I know that once they find someone, they’re gonna unleash some fucking incredible, incredible songs, if the ones off ‘Fuck The Beach‘ are anything to go by.
I was super overjoyed to have San Diego’s Heavy Hawaii over to play. We had them go on in the inside stage which actually suited them really, really well because it was a cute little space with like fairy lights and we were able to make things really dark and atmospheric. I’m not going to lie and say this was kind of incendiary different set than the one I’ve seen them the past two or three days (and since January) but thats definitely not a bad thing. Something I really like about Heavy Hawaii is the fact that they’re really consistent. They consistently write consice, lovely, floating jams and they consistently step up their game and make songs that serve me so well on sunny Sunday mornings into engaging shows. Although I was only able to catch like 2/3 of this show, it was as good as I’ve seen them. ‘Better‘ is really such a good fucking song. Keep your ears peeled, I think the singles that HH are going to be putting out soon are going to blow your little ear holes with greatness.
I’m pretty sure Vancouver’s Dead Ghosts thought I was a major dork just because of the way I was gushing about how excited I was to see them. I came into their self-titled record at the tail-end of last year and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year. They said “get ready to be dissapointed”, but sorry fellas, I was totally blown away. Although I was only able to catch half the set (again, more running around) but I was so impressed about the way they were soo tight and even though on record they sound sloppy/great, in person it has something much more finished about it. My two favorites had to be a really fucking radical and practically perfect rendition of ‘Girl Across The Street’ and a similarly fantastic and rowdy version of my single favorite song they’ve done ‘When It Comes To You‘. These dudes slay. Fact.
We also had Orange County’s greatly underappreciated (that will soon change, I think) Cosmonauts. I really, really enjoyed them and have seen them live since and they’ve been equally great. There’s something really fresh to their take on psych-garage rock. I wouldn’t put them far away from San Fran’s Fresh & Onlys. They write really tight songs and then live they sometimes let them meander into jammy noise territory and it all works really well. I can’t wait for more from these dudes.
Anyone who had the opportunity to see King Tuff at SXSW was treated to the OC’s young power-rippers Audacity playing as his backing band. After SXSW, they left on a Burger Records Boogaloo back to LA as his backing band. So when we had them play on Friday — we were treated to something that probably no one else has seen: a King Tuff set as performed by Audacity — no King Tuff involved. Even though Matt was wasted, they played a really, really tight set of covers. I mean, as someone who missed King Tuff in 2009, and then proceeded to miss every King Tuff set at SXSW… it was really special to get to hear them played, even if KT wasn’t there. They did a spectacular versions of ‘Animal‘ and ‘Ruthie Ruthie‘, and as always ‘Connection‘ was fucking fantastic. Due to time, they just ran through a short set but it was really cool and I’m so happy they played. Seeing them about a week later opening for and with King Tuff, I just can’t get enough of these guys. And having heard some of the material they’re gonna put on the album they’re recording in the next few weeks — it’s going to SLAY hard.