Thursday at SXSW:
--Starling, TN - dulcimer inflected mountain music/roots psych, expected a full band, got one guy surrounded by dulcimers singing traditional heart sick road songs that would've made Townes Van Zandt proud. Only catch a few songs, nice outside patio area, sporadic raindrops--a fitting setting.
--Constantines - Emo's day party, Constantines are another band who owes its existence to 16 Horsepower. Capable big band attack with violin, vaguely rootsy, vaguely post punk/rock informed, not entirely memorable, but good stuff.
--Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - yet another loveably dysfunctional pop act like the Danielson Famile or Daniel Johnston, they perform what seems like spontaneous explenations of randomly chosen slideshows: neat trick, occasionally entertaining. My favorite part of their set is the little girl on drums, about 10 years old who looks bored, chews gum lacklusterly and can barely keep the tempo.
--+/- - has to be the new band of the Baluyut bros of the once great Versus, though that's not confirmed. They display the same cool mastery of dynamics, sweet trancey pop songs erupting into tightly wound Fugazi/Wire-esque rawk explosions. Their show leaves me pleasently amazed and of the opinion i'd actually like the album.
--Decemberists - Mountain Goats light, not the revelation I'd hoped for, and their all acoustic jugband setup was not well suited to the filled to capacity club. But in a more intimate setting I can see the appeal.
--Davis Redford Triad - Over at the Ritz upstairs for the mighty Triad. Steven Wray Lobdell and his band, including a sax/guitarist from Jackie-O MOtherfucker, of course tear the roof off the intimate Ritz parlour, conjuring massive walls of guitar/drone mojo with a healthy dose of non-sucking white guy sax surfing up and down the sonic slipstream. Without question, sometimes Faust moonlighter Lobdell is one of the modern underground's true guitar gods of the day. Glorious.
--Devendra Banhart - Another cracked set of warped folk transcendentalism from DB and the ever-personable Thor of Angels of Light fame on hand drum. I dig Devendra, many don't for acceptable reasons, but this little, seemingly half-assed show was a good enough reason why I like 'em. The way he recast the incredible Michigan into a trible incantation with only moaned/chanted vocal delivery and percussion is a fine example of his willingness and necessity to always be mixing that big ol pot of creativey goo into something fresh and tasty. My companion? Less than impressed.
--Joanna Newsom - She plays a harp. She plays a harp and sings in a kind of chipmonk lilt that either leaves ya warm and prickly or out in the cold. I think this chick was on Comus's first album.
...a fair share of walking ensues, attempt to get in for the Church gig, line's too long...the Mission of Burma and Little Richard gigs are clear across town...
--Gogogo Airheart - settle on Emo's yet again in time for these guys. Saw them before and was duely unimpressed - like this better though. Funkified angular punk that's all these rages these days, but lots of mid 70s Stones blues swagger crammed into their jagged Gang of Four inspired racket.
--Don Caballero - there's a reason these guys are Gods to some geeks. Much more on the metal side than previous DC gigs I'd captured, this was quite simply the shit. First track, with it's techtonic shifts and hypnotic guitar textures is very Red era King Crimson. The rest a nice assault of controlled torment, Slayer crossed with Gastr Del Sol crossed with...
--High On Fire - "Are these guys Motorhead?" Heard outside the gate as the mighty HOF was winding down. "Exactly" I thought...caught the last two songs of this mammoth trio's set, all three soaked in sweat just mangling their instruments, tearing our spines and livers with wrecklessness rarely glimpsed in the doomosphere. Two songs are probably enough...