Monday, December 13, 2010

Burnt-Out Holiday Lights (and Show Picks)

I don't celebrate any December holiday in particular. I enjoy mockingly referring to the 25th as "Loot Day" but my intensely Catholic family really hates this. Good thing I don't live anywhere near them. I do think it looks pretty when all the houses in a neighborhood have their lights up, and I tried to put ours up today. Three of the four strings of lights from last year are dead. We are too broke to afford new lights. We had a $20 Wal-Mart gift card that the grandmother of someone who used to live at this address sent, but we had to spend that on food. Anyway I just came back from looking at how pathetic our single string of lights is, and I am feeling all sorts of American male inferiority issues. I wish I had money for a gigantic animatronic Santa with eight tiny reindeer, interactive naughty-nice list, and real flying sleigh. Hopefully my low mood will not make the week's show picks of any less utility.

MONDAY I doubt very much that Michael Cera's vanity band Mister Heavenly is any better than the band Keanu Reeves played bass for, Dogstar, but awesome local tech-dance-funkers Freshmillions landed the opening slot for their gig at Scoot Inn. If you're not on the Freshmillions train already, get moving.

WEDNESDAY There aren't a lot of bands in Austin or anywhere with better songs than Pataphysics. And yet I feel like I overlook them a lot of the time when I get to listing off my favorite locals. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. I suspect they need to play more shows. They are doing so Wednesday at Emo's so that's good news for us both. If you go, listen to "Girl, You Make Me Feel Like a Weirdo" before doing so. Being able to sing along is a big part of their appeal. They combine sock-hop melodies with demented 8-bit era keyboard sounds, they have stage presence to burn, and every time I've seen 'em the other bands have been good too. For the experimental-minded, Bubbleface continues their December-long Wednesday run at Club 1808. It's always free, and I hear they have some cool guests this week.

THURSDAY One of the very first Austin bands to send me a CD for review was Glafiro & Solid Ghost, an intriguing mixture of soul, Latin, and modern rock who didn't stay alive quite long enough for me to ever see them play. That's a bummer, but at the Parlor (for free) this week you can see the component parts: bassist Ariel Sauceda is now with Good Lazy System, and frontman Glafiro Robert is playing joined by drummer Alex Salinas. Enough heckling might inspire a proper reunion.

FRIDAY The big Red River institutions both have appealing local shows this day: Mohawk's got The Eastern Sea, For Hours and Ours, and Pompeii; Emo's has Ringo Deathstarr and Follow That Bird!. Interesting, most likely not intentional cross-programming there. You've got a bunch of sensitive guy bands and then down the street, bands with female members that are pretty loud and fuzzy. I haven't seen The Eastern Sea since just before they left on their fall tour. I hope they are holding that lineup together as they work on their album. Turnover kept them from really clicking as a live band for me, even though I adore their EP's, right up until that last show. I think they've gotten their reps in now. For Hours and Ours, on the other hand, are a guaranteed good time. Their fans are crazy.

SATURDAY I'm impressed that eight-piece Rich Restaino & The Obits even existed in the first place. Busy people with schedules have to be hugely committed to make a rock band with pro arrangements and exquisitely sweet three-part vocal harmonies click. The band is taking some time off after their show Saturday at Rockin' Tomato. They are well worth discovering before they do. They link together new wave and classic rock effectively, and their shows have an infectious team feeling. Nearly everybody takes at least one lead vocal and with that many happy, engaged people on stage there's a party going before the audience even enters into it. UPDATE: Rockin' Tomato gig was cancelled. But you should still go see Rich play music somehow. I guess I owe you a replacement Saturday pick. Here's two: La Snacks at US Art Authority; many noise bands including Sex Bruises at Club 1808.

I'm always receptive to any feedback regarding omissions, factual errors, busted links, or outright fabrications. Have a merry week.


  1. Although you may not celebrate any particular December holiday, I am sure that you can appreciate a classical view on the holidays with something like the Nutcracker. If so, you should check out the Invincible Czars this Fri at Ruta Maya where they will be performing the Nutcracker. I have never seen this band, but I am having strong thoughts on checking them out and getting into the holiday spirit with some great holiday oriented sounds with a fresh perspective.

  2. Comment illustrates how difficult doing show picks in Austin is. I LOVE the Invincible Czars. I've written about them several times, most recently when they did their Iron Maiden shows over Halloween. I knew they were doing Nutcracker soon because they do it every year, but somehow I overlooked it when I was putting together this list. Definitely go see them!

  3. Actually, Alex played WITH Glafiro at The Parlor, so thumbs up there. Mike Krieger is actually the drummer for the Lightning Jars. Now, if only Ariel would come around...

  4. Thanks! I couldn't find any info about the Lightning Jars online so I assumed they were an offshoot or evolution of Alex's Platform project. This local music writing is harder than it looks!