As usual, it's only taken me a full year to figure out that this project will be more successful if I concentrate on giving the readers what they want instead of just doing everything my way. I hope you SOB's enjoy your show picks.
MONDAY Punk of no particular era with good songs and an elastic rhythm section, The Bad Lovers are playing at The Grand on Airport Boulevard. A lot of bands in Austin love blaming the venue when they don't sound good, but these guys were built for dives. If you can sound awesome in a concrete box like Trailer Space or The Parlor, you must be doing something right. Gritty, mordantly funny folk troubadour D.B. Rouse is playing at Flipnotics, too.
THURSDAY I'm not the biggest fan of The Hi-Tones, but I heard a great rumor about them I simply can't resist passing on. I was told that this same group of guys has been playing together for a few years under different names. They play until they get a bad review, then they change styles and pick a new name. Their current incarnation as an insincere mod-pop revival has apparently gotten positive enough feedback for them to stick to it. I don't know if this is true, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me given all I know about the "scene" here, where bands are often rewarded more for successfully emulating national trends than being creative. I saw the Hi-Tones play and thought it was monotonous. Anyway, go see them and make up your own mind. They're sharing a bill at the Continental with Megafauna, who are always worth seeing. They've got more than enough bizarre style shifts and weird time signatures to go around. Local rapper Zeale, a solid live performer with an impressively clear delivery, is at Parish. He's not really much for expanding on traditional hip-hop subject matter but he runs a party quite effectively. Follow That Bird! have grown a great deal from their no-fi origins. I think the word's already out on this trio but if you haven't seen them in a while, you might be surprised by how far Lauren Green's riffs and Tiffanie Lanmon's drumming have evolved after several months of steady gigging. They're at Red 7 with Milk Thistle.
FRIDAY The big show tonight is the Neil Young tribute at Parish. No fewer than 11 bands, most of which are good, are joining together for this blowout event organized by The Midgetmen. I really admire the effort that these guys are putting into finding new ways of connecting hardcore Austin music fans with underexposed local bands. They put a ton of thought into booking their shows and they really grasp the point I always am trying to make about bands in Austin taking it upon themselves to give listeners more than their money's worth. There's a lot more to say about this show, so I'm running a full story on it tomorrow, stay tuned. For now perhaps go listen to The Sour Notes, The Gary, and La Snacks, the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to Austin rock... I hope all of these bands win a ton of new fans this weekend. You should be among them, if you aren't already. Even if you don't know your Harvest from your Harvest Moon, I promise a good time. Also Friday we've got Royal Forest and The Lemurs for free at Lucky Lounge, a show so appealing I accidentally listed it last week. After seeing Royal Forest at Fun Fun Fun Fest I am rooting for their new name to become well-known enough that they will no longer have to put "formerly Loxsly" on all their show announcements. And talk about an embarrassment of riches! The Friday night indoor show at Emo's is pretty awesome, too: electro-dance to the edge of panic with Freshmillions and Zlam Dunk (CD release) plus the killer post-hardcore Markov and the trumpet-kissed, Kinsella-rock anthems of For Hours and Ours. Too much good stuff.
SATURDAY My dear friends World Racketeering Squad return to their favorite haunt, the Rockin' Tomato on South Lamar, celebrating the release of their latest EP Talking to the Radio with You Might Think We're Sharks in support. I've given WRS plenty of love; I am biased in their favor since few bands here love Brit-pop and science fiction with the same intensity as I do. But let me say something nice about the venue: The management at Rockin' Tomato cares more about making every show a great experience for the bands playing than most rock clubs in Austin. They're regularly making improvements to their soundboard and their stage setup, the staff is friendly and supportive, and the food is really good. All local bands should play there, if only for the opportunity to get some of their pizza and burgers for free.
SUNDAY Post-rock/art-pop/kitchen-sink act paperthreat jam for no cover at the One-2-One Bar, which is a new venue to me. It's on East 5th. Says here free pizza, which never hurts the cause any. I really like the diverse sounds of this band, who seem to just be coming into their own... they're powerful without being loud and dance-friendly without being repetitive. There are a lot of guitar bands in Austin trying to figure out how to bring their laptop beats up on stage without being clumsy about it. Most of them are failing, but paperthreat have it figured out. The fact that they have a real point of view in their songwriting helps a ton.
If you've got a recommendation for a show I passed over or are playing one yourself in the weeks to come, let me know!