THE YEAR'S BIGGEST MUSIC WEEK?
We told you last week about the sheer awesomeness that was Week One of West by Southwest, an annual festival organized to accommodate those bands traveling to and from South by Southwest. Last week, we got a bunch of acts on their way to Austin, and this week, we get a ton more on their way home. Sure, we don't get the benefit of hosting any of them on a weekend night—this week's WXSW shows take place Sunday, March 21, through Wednesday, March 24—but the list of acts playing the fest, which takes place this week at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., and Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., is well worth being tired at work the next day.
Oh, and did I mention it's a smokin' deal? Cover charge is $8 per night, which gets you into shows at both Congress and Plush. Or, if you haven't already, you can pay $30 for a wristband, which gets you into both venues for the remainder of WXSW shows. Here, then, is what your $30 gets you.
• Plush, Sunday, March 21 (no Congress show tonight; 21 and up): I rarely defer to the descriptions that bands put on their MySpace pages, but in the case of Los Angeles' Over-Gain Optimal Death (OGOD), who perform at 9:30 p.m., I'll make an exception: "Psychedelic/speed-freak/fuzz" is better than any three-word description I'm gonna be able to come up with. Tonight's show is the band's first on an extended tour as opener for likeminded Japanese noiseniks Acid Mothers Temple, whose lengthy psychedelic guitar freakouts are only slightly less brutal than OGOD's. They'll play at 10:30 p.m.
• Club Congress, Monday, March 22 (early, all ages): Echo Park, Calif.'s Rainbow Arabia, who start off the night at 7:30 p.m., use synths, drum machines, guitar and live percussion to merge electro-pop songs with controlled vocal wails and a distinctive Middle Eastern bent. At 8:30 p.m., Los Angeles quartet The 88, who have recently been opening and serving as backing band for legendary Kinks frontman Ray Davies on a national tour, perform a set of zippy, rockin' pop songs influenced by '70s power pop and '60s British Invasion. The L.A. duo El Ten Eleven, who have amassed a loyal Tucson following by playing here several times a year, employ a double-necked guitar/bass, a drum kit and a stage full of effects pedals for their smooth post-rock instrumental songs. They close out the night at 9:30 p.m.
• Plush, Monday, March 22 (21 and up): Fresh from appearing on the highly coveted National Public Radio Showcase bill at SXSW along with Spoon, Broken Bells, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and the Walkmen, Seattle's Visqueen, who released the fantastic Message to Garcia last year, will be adored by anyone whose favorite New Pornographers songs are the ones sung by Neko Case. They're on at 9:30 p.m., just before the Toronto husband-wife duo Lullabye Arkestra, who somehow manage to convincingly marry '80s punk and metal with an underlying gritty garage-soul vibe, at 10:30 p.m. They're on tour with Vice Records labelmates Pierced Arrows, which contains another husband-wife team in Fred and Toody Cole, the 60-something former leaders of Pacific Northwest legends Dead Moon. Like their former band, Pierced Arrows, who headline at 11:30 p.m., play a variety of garage rock, but less gloomy and more rootsy.
• Club Congress, Tuesday, March 23 (21 and up): Montreal quartet Think About Life are all about feel-good, dance floor-friendly indie club tunes. They're on at 8:30 p.m., just before Nashville trio Turbo Fruits, who count Be Your Own Pet vets among their ranks, take over at 9:30 p.m. with an abundance of short, hook-filled garage pop songs about smoking weed, things one eats after smoking weed, and getting naked. From, of all places, West Palm Beach, Fla., Surfer Blood have earned their buzz-band status by playing a brand of power pop that utilizes snappy power chords and gloriously reverbed vocals. They're on at 10:30 p.m.
• Plush, Tuesday, March 23 (21 and up): If you're going to see The Low Anthem, the subject of a feature article in this week's issue, at 10:30 p.m., make sure you get there early enough to catch opener Timber Timbre, a Toronto-based duo heavy on minimalist songs with eerie late-night atmospherics, at 9:30 p.m.
• Club Congress, Wednesday, March 24 (21 and up): A special addition to this year's WXSW, Hugh Cornwell, the former frontman of The Stranglers and this week's Nine Questions subject, headlines the WXSW finale, which also includes two locals: French chanteuse Marianne Dissard and Mostly Bears frontman Brian Lopez, whose solo material puts the focus where it belongs—on his gorgeous voice—even though he generally uses a large, string-enhanced backing band. Doors at 8 p.m.; music should begin around 9 p.m.
For more information about these shows, call Club Congress at 622-8848, or Plush at 798-1298.
As was the case last week, a single festival is not enough to contain the multitude of acts playing in town. Enter the Bröötal Sun Fest, which gathers together nearly 40 bands at two venues—nighttime shows are at The HangArt, 512 N. Echols Ave., and daytime performances are at Dry River, 740 N. Main Ave.—over two days and three nights: Friday, March 19; Saturday, March 20; and Sunday, March 21 (night show only). The headliners are Peachcake on Friday, AIDS Free and A Billion Ernies on Saturday, and Andrew Jackson Jihad on Sunday.
Admission to night shows is $5; admission to day shows is also $5, but no one will be turned away. A weekend pass is also available for $15 in advance; all ages are welcome. You can find more info by searching for Bröötal Sun Fest on Facebook.
SPAIN MEETS THE SONORAN DESERT
Not too long ago, Giant Sand frontman and desert sage Howe Gelb found himself in Cordoba, Spain, playing piano with a bunch of flamenco gypsies. They didn't speak English, and he didn't speak much Spanish, but the music they made together was inspiring and gratifying to both. Later, the group was joined by Spanish guitar superstar Raimundo Amador, who has played with the likes of Björk and B.B. King, and who is credited with creating a cross-pollination of flamenco and psychedelic guitar rock in the '70s. The tracks they laid down in Spain were later mixed by John Parish (PJ Harvey) and will be released as the album Alegrias, credited to Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies. This week brings a pair of rare collaborative shows in which the musicians will play the songs in a live setting.
Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies with Raimundo Amador will perform a special 10 p.m. late show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, March 19. Tickets are $10; 622-8848 for more info. The next night, Saturday, March 20, the same group of folks will perform a similar show in a more intimate setting: The Starlight Lounge, upstairs at Bisbee's Café Roka, 35 Main St. Tickets are $25, and you can call (520) 432-5153 for tickets and, if desired, dinner reservations.
ON THE BANDWAGON
The illustrious Bob Spasm has two shows lined up for this week: Spasmfest 2010, at Vaudeville on Saturday, March 20, will feature Bloodspasm (celebrating 25 years of fuckin' shit up), Limbless Torso, Blue Collar Criminals, Flying Donkey Punch and Inoculara. 9:30 p.m. $5. 622-3535.
Then, on Tuesday, March 23, Mr. Spasm will celebrate his 50th birthday with a free show at the Surly Wench Pub featuring Bob Spasm and the Gods of Rock opening for Texas Trash and the Hangovers. 8 p.m. Free. 882-0009.
Also: Al Perry, Fish Karma and the Love Generation, and the Loren Dircks Band at Boondocks Lounge on Thursday, March 18; traditional Tuvan performers Chirgilchin at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, March 20; Carrie Newcomer at Zuzi's Theater on Sunday, March 21; Kreator at The Rock next Thursday, March 25; The Love Me Nots at the Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, March 20; Chamillionaire and Paul Wall at Club DV8 next Thursday, March 25; Saosin and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster at Club Congress on Friday, March 19; Angel Perez at Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea on Sunday, March 21; Locura and Diego's Umbrella at The Hut on Wednesday, March 24; Hank Topless and Tamara McClung at The Red Room at Grill on Friday, March 19; the Alternative Press Tour featuring Never Shout Never at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, March 23; America at Desert Diamond Casino on Wednesday, March 24; Eb's Camp Cookin' at the Old Town Artisans Courtyard on Friday, March 19.