Friday, May 7, 2010

The Weekend: Lousy With Rocking

I don't usually go much in for the show preview, because I don't see much utility in the things myself. I don't need a reproduced picture of a flyer and an embedded link to know if a bill is any good or not. People always ask me, "How do you find about shows?" To me that's a weird question. How can you live in Austin and not find out about shows? I try to talk to as many musicians as I can and listen to as much as I can and remember the name of any band that's new to me. Sometimes I take notes, theoretically there's a calendar somewhere I should be writing dates down on, but mostly I wing it. You can do that here. That's why I moved to Austin.

As a rule I never listen to music that's posted on blogs. It never sounds good, it causes my eight-year-old computer to make grinding noises, and it irritates me to no end that most music blogs simply post pictures and links and consider this to pass as new content. State an opinion! Criticize! Further the debate! In this light I'm pleased to pass on a link to Red River Noise, a new collaborative venture between a number of Austin journalists that nobly seeks to inject some objectivity and some professionalism to the monumental task of documenting Austin's new music scene. I'm glad it exists.

Anyway, shows. There are three colossal events that are newsworthy this weekend and I don't want to seem asleep at the switch by not recognizing so. First of all, the show at Encore tonight is like a single-night primer on what's buzz in Austin indie rock. Quiet Company are releasing their new EP, which really won me over; I am intrigued to see whether they can bring the increased maturity and complexity of their new material to the live setting. The Eastern Sea get better and more ambitious every single time I see them, and they know how to work a stage. STEREO IS A LIE are one of the first Austin bands I caught after moving here and still one of the best. They have an unusually effective combination of singer and band, and for an incredibly loud group they're admirably subtle and seductive. And I haven't even mentioned the headliners, Black and White Years, as yet unheard by me but with a pretty impressive CV. All this and the Rocketboys. That's quite a show for ten bucks.

If your tastes edge towards the hotter, sweatier, synth-ier side you have the alternative Friday of Fresh Millions, holding a CD release show of their own over at the Scoot Inn. The fashionable and bizarre No Mas Bodas are in support and Focus Group top the bill. Focus Group are releasing an EP, too... there's something about Austin's music calendar that distracts bands' focus in the late winter so that new releases end up all coming out in a chunk in the summer. This is a free show!

Finally, Saturday night is a special one for the wiseacres in the Midgetmen, who celebrate eight years as a band (the same four guys the whole time, by the way, which is outright miraculous) with a two-stage blowout at Mohawk. I'm bemused that this band has been around for eight years without necessarily getting any better. We saw them during free week and Anna C. and I got in a very contentious argument because I wouldn't let her leave when they started playing. In my review I implied their bassist and drummer couldn't play their instruments. I suppose that you don't have to make the goal of your band continuous improvement. The Midgetmen by their own admission are more focused on getting free drink tickets, and in that spirit they will be distributing complimentary PBR's at certain surprise points during the festivities. Other than the hopes of free domestic beer, why go to this show? Well, some of the other bands on the lineup are fab: The Gary, La Snacks, Ringo Deathstarr, The Mercers. What's more, at the close of the night the Midgetmen are planning on inviting pretty much everybody they know in Austin who plays an instrument up on stage with them to make the biggest, most hideous racket possible. I can't imagine a more effective summation of their core values of community, alcoholism, and atrocious dissonance. If you were ever going to see the Midgetmen, this is the time.

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