Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, pt. VI: Saturday, March 15

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The sixth and final installment, in which our intrepid reporter won a prize, enjoyed some fine audio engineering and also photographed a clean and tidy toilet. It was apparently that kind of day. Last post I wrote about youthful energy and the fact that SXSW will truly kick your ass. Despite the fact that I’m somewhere just south of 30 myself, I was well and truly dragging by that Saturday. Forget making it downtown by noon: I called it a success that I was out of bed and dressed in real clothes, much less getting coffee near the day’s first venue, by 1pm. Though it helped to know I was on my last day of festivities, it helped even more that I was seeing Kan Wakan again. As much as I’d liked the band before SXSW, I grew to like them expontentially more after seeing them a few times. That’s something I find hard to say about many bands, much less fairly new bands which have been thrown into the pressure cooker of a festival. Like most performers, Kristianne Bautista is appreciative of as much support as fans can offer and will openly admit to stage jitters, but she puts … Continue reading

Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, pt. IV: Thursday, March 13

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Our intrepid reporter goes to see some (more) live music. Also a mechanical bull. On Thursday, I woke up to more than a dozen text messages asking if I was okay. Until I saw a news story about the night’s fatal accident, I had no idea why so many people would be concerned and wondered if I’d been sleeping for more than one day. Once I read about what had happened, I debated skipping the day’s festivities out of respect, but eventually came to a conclusion: those who could party should get on with the partying in honor of all those who cannot party. I waited for the downtown bus with a spirit of gratitude. That spirit started to fade after three city buses, from two different routes, passed our stop with partygoers packed inside to legal capacity. Everyone who could party definitely seemed to be partying, and I found myself wishing they had timed things a little more conveniently for us old people. The bus ride, when I finally got one, was appropriately interesting. I made it downtown just in time to miss several shows. While trying not to miss the final Doe Paoro show of SXSW 2014, I … Continue reading

Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW pt. III: Wednesday March 12

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Our intrepid reporter has been somewhat delayed by travel and technology, but has continued undaunted. Below is her report from her first show-filled day. After spending numerous protracted coffee breaks trying to figure out the SXSW schedule, I finally hiked deep into the heart of No-Man’s Land — past the endless blocks of band parking, through a sea of Econoline vans and long-haired skinny-jeaned men lugging instrument cases — to The Echoplex SXSW Throwdown at Red 7. The bill featured a number of up-and-coming Los Angeles bands, but I only had ears for my new musical supercrush: Kan Wakan. Determined to stake out a spot in front, I arrived early. But I needn’t have worried: Brandon the Swag Man still had a whole table full of free swag and the venue was far below capacity. Only a few hardcore festival-goers lingered in the courtyard, and I ran into singer Kristianne Bautista practically right away. She, too, was recovering from a fever and general travel fatigue, but was excited to meet a new fan. We chatted about her band’s rising fame while they set up, since a seven-piece act needs a little extra preparation. Unfortunately, that extra work cut into their … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Panic! at the Disco / The Colourist / X Ambassadors, Roseland, 2/4/2014

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It’s a rare thing, getting to watch a band grow up. My first (indoors) Panic! at the Disco show was at Roseland Ballroom in May 2008. I say indoors because my actual first Panic! at the Disco show was at Bamboozle a few days earlier, and when I saw them I couldn’t really see them, because I had just broken my glasses in the Bouncing Souls pit. I could hear them just fine, though, and against all odds – they were in their hippie phase, wore lots of beige and had four tattoos between them – I loved them. But at Roseland I could see them, and they looked like sweet-faced deer in the headlights. Their stage presence was probably best described as “charmingly awkward.” But the songs still made me happy. And so, for good or for ill, I was in for the long haul. This past Tuesday night – six years, two records/style-shifts, and three line-up changes later – they were at Roseland again, one last time before the places closes down in the spring. The openers this time around were X Ambassadors and The Colourist. X Ambassadors had a dark dreamy-draggy-occasional-burst-of-thundering-drums vibe going, which I rather liked. … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Andrew WK / Team Spirit, Irving Plaza, 12/31/13

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My first post of the new year goes to my last concert of the old year and/or first concert of the new year: Andrew WK and Team Spirit at Irving Plaza. The night began with punk rock heavy metal karaoke – live band, audience participation – which was more sublime than ridiculous, due mostly to the assembled crowd, which included multiple generations of headbangers, punks, and miscellaneous People In Black as well as others who had come down to capital-P Party with Andrew WK. I was there because, frankly, 2013 was kind of shit, and Andrew WK – in many ways heavy metal’s holy fool – is about fun in an uncomplicated way that I find very attractive. And that was how I wanted to start 2014, with uncomplicated fun. But back to karaoke. There were a lot of beautiful moments: the dude in the Lil Bub hoodie who led us in a sober, stirring rendition of War Pigs; the girl who grabbed Oh Bondage Up Yours! by the throat and made it her own; the girl and the guy who led a gleeful sing-along of Fight For Your Right to Party; the last dude, who slammed through Communication Breakdown … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: The Architects / DeathSpells / The Scandals, the Knitting Factory, 11/19/13

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I went to see the Architects, DeathSpells and the Scandals at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn this past Tuesday, and it was awesome. The Scandals are from Bayonne, New Jersey, and they play Jersey punk at breakneck speed.         DeathSpells is a new venture from Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and James Dewees (Reggie and the Full Effect, The Get Up Kids) and is more pop-industrial than punk. And by “pop-industrial” I mean it’s weird experimental noise you can dance to – well, stomp-sway and headbang and bounce a little – which the crowd and I did, enthusiastically. Sadly Frank Iero’s voice got a little bit lost in the mix; this may have been because I was right up on the rail and too close to a speaker. But their songs worked great as instrumental pieces, too, so that was okay.       The Architects are at a transitional period, musically; up until now they’ve played thrashy punk mostly – to quote Brandon Phillips – “about drugs and law enforcement.” Their most recent record goes in a little bit of a different direction – I’ve already written about how much I like it – and has … Continue reading

The Replacements at Riot Fest Toronto

The Replacements at Riot Fest Toronto

  Everything you wanted, they were. So says our friend and Toronto musician Christian D. Christian saw the recently-reunited Replacements play at the Toronto Riot Fest date, and with all the debate flying around on whether the Replacements should reunite (spoiler alert: Too late! They already did), Christian wanted to get his take on things down into words, and he kindly let us post his thoughts.       I’m betting that, like me, a lot of the audience at Toronto’s Riot Fest, never got to see the Mats the first time around. For me, it wasn’t so much about “was it worth the wait”, but rather a chance to see what might have/should have been. Based on those songs, the critical accolades, and the snotty punk attitude, it always seemed like the Replacements should have been goddamned huge. “Best band of the ‘80s”, remember that? Maybe they were ahead of their time or too fucked up to play the game – whatever it was, it never really happened for them. BUT – the legacy looms large. I grew up on those albums, and the bootlegs, and all the stories of the brilliant band who’d show up too drunk to … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Adam Ant & The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse / Prima Donna, Irving Plaza, 8/17/2013

Adam Ant, Irving Plaza

Before we get started, here is what you need to know about Adam Ant: he is, was, and ever shall be a rock star. He was the original Dandy Highwayman, a cultural lightning rod and, first with a band as Adam & the Ants and then as a solo artist, (unwillingly) associated with New Romantic movement. Captain Jack Sparrow looks like him, not the other way around. In 1985, he left the music business to be an actor, and did not return to the musical stage for almost a decade. From 1993 onwards, he enjoyed some musical successes and weathered many non-musical trials and tribulations, until 2011, when he returned in earnest. All of that is to say, when I saw his name float up in my concert listings a few months ago, I was surprised he was playing again – I missed it when he came through in 2012 – and more so that he was appearing at Irving Plaza. I love the place, but it is a shoebox. Actually he did two nights at Irving Plaza. I went to see him on the second one, and it was amazing. The openers were Prima Donna, from California. They were … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Fall Out Boy / NK, House of Blues Boston, 5/26/13

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In which I went to Boston for Fall Out Boy, and it was an awesome, sweaty, raucous festival of joy. But to back up a little bit: Up first was NK, which is Ryan Hunter and Brian Byrne (Envy on The Coast) and Billy Rymer (Dillinger Escape Plan), and they’re currently touring with Isaac Bolivar and Matt Fazzi (Taking Back Sunday). They have a heavy rap-rock Rage Against The Machine vibe going. I didn’t know any of their songs but I could nonetheless appreciate the barely controlled surge and snarl of their drums and guitars. I’m pretty sure it isn’t possible to listen to their set and not suddenly find yourself banging your head. Some highlights:   This really is Ryan Hunter (Envy on the Coast). He cut all of his dreads off!     Joe Trohman and Isaac Bolivar, headbanging.     The right side of the stage . . .     . . . and the left. And then it was time for the main event. Fall Out Boy came out in a burst of light and noise and kicked it off with Thriller – their Thriller, not Michael Jackson’s – which was an absolute perfect choice … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Black Veil Brides / William Control / Wildstreet, 1/25/2013

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This was not my first show of the new year, but it was the one I looked forward to for days in a state of nervous, fluttery happiness. It was also my second Black Veil Brides event in one week; the first one was a viewing of Legion of the Black, the movie that accompanies / amplifies their new record, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. I say accompanies/amplifies because the movie both illustrates and provides a narrative structure for the record. You can listen to and enjoy the record without ever watching the film, but it’s somewhat like listening to the official soundtrack of a Broadway show and never seeing the stage play itself. I got watch five minutes of the movie at the listening party in December; having now experienced the rest I can tell you it is interesting, conceptually and thematically, but I’m holding off on making detailed commentary until I can watch it again when it gets a wider re-release in the spring. Meanwhile, onwards to the show:   Wildstreet, of New York, were up first. They have a new record out. Here are some pictures of (most of) them:       … Continue reading