Friday, March 16th – Panache!

Posted March 17, 2007 in
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We are up in an excited, hurried rush today. Stooges are on at 1pm and we meet Chase, and later on Cary Darling, at Austin City Limits for the show. The Stooges set, which consisted of four songs, a miniscule interview and great sound went on for only 30 minutes but it was both good and bad. The good part was that Mike Watt and both Asheton brothers were totally into the gig which housed about 200 spectators max. Iggy was a bit flippant and had a mechanical energy. The songs were taken off their new album, which in my opinion is a little weak. They didn't even end with any crowd pleasers such as "TV Eye" or "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (even though they were given unlimited time to play). I think the crowd has an expectation of Iggy that is circa-1972 but are blind to the fact that this is Iggy Pop and the Stooges circa-2007. I can't really complain, though because of the amazing sound and pure intimacy of the show. I'll never be able to see the Stooges in such a private setting like that again.

The Face of Rock and Roll

Watt and Roll

If one rock and roll icon weren't enough, right after seeing the Stooges that close-up I was able to roll out to yet another small, private gathering and this time for Willie Nelson and his new record label, Pedernales Records. The event was catered with free food such as jumbo shrimp in special sauce (not the name of a jam band, I promise), free beer and Willie. His record label promises to put artists first and the first act they signed was 40 points, which is Willie's son's band. Makes you wonder if Willie is using this as a vehicle to launch his son's career because they were a mix of jam band, Led Zep and country. His son sounds eerily similar to his father. It was AWESOME to see Willie in a gathering of no more than 50 people and to be able to talk to the man. I could've ended my day there.

Scott Asheton playing drums in the Austin City Limits

After Willie, I made a quick pit stop to see Daniel Johnston's new band, the Nightmares. It was really rad because a) Daniel was in great spirits and b) he told horrible racist jokes about Jews and Hitler. Bless his soul. Daniel Johnston and the Nightmares is in a similar vein to Johnston's earlier work, as he sports the same innocence and sincere singer/songwriter-ness as before but the major difference (and a huge positive) is that he has a small orchestra and he sings about destroying Satan. I think Daniel Johnston is the new black metal.

The main bulk of my time today was spent at the Panache showcase. The showcase boasted such a strong line-up (while the rest of SXSW had nothing I was super super jazzed about) that included the likes of the Mall, Yip-yip, Monotonix, Green Milk from the Planet Orange, etc ... you'll probably recognize these bands from reading about them in the hollowed pages of SLUG or if you know Ryan Powers. The thing about most of these bands is that they might sound great on record but sometimes their live shows tend to be a bunch of knob twisting, keyboard wankery that ends up ruining your experience of the record because it is just tedious to watch and is like finding out how potato chips are made you end up loosing the magic behind the munching. One band that was the opposite of that, whose live show totally fucking destroyed but whose music blew, was Monotonix. Monotonix is a band from Israel who lit their drums on fire, ran into the crowd and ruined people's personal space, tore the bar apart by flinging napkins, straws and other random bar shit around, screamed in people's faces, poured beer EVERYWHERE and ended with a full on 25 car pile-up with the drummer sitting on his kick drum, hoisted by 10 sweaty guys while other crowd member his kit in the air for him to play. My jaw dropped and I am sooooo glad I wasn't hurt during that gig.

Between shows at the Panache showcase I was able to meet Maria Catamero from Blueghost Publicity, Helena her lovely assistant and Marissa (the "S" makes a difference) from Four Paws Media. All the ladies were lovely and even better they fucking rock hard!

Finally, I ended my evening by watching two acoustic sets on Maddy's recommendation. Gruff Rhys, lead singer of the Super Furry Animals, played a simple, quirky set of songs using toys and other interesting, non-traditional tools. The sound is stuck somewhere between the bedroom eyes and the kitchen. The songs are bright and poppy, make an effective use of electronic looping and a CD player and are varied, rich and textured. What is interesting is that Gruff brought along a Welsh folk artist that has an amazing voice. He did a great job mixing the right amount of guitar, casio keyboard, plastic horn and noisemaker with his own voice and that of Lisa his Welsh back-up singer to produce a very good set. Also of note, the main, bald headed band leader of Mogwai was at the show with his wife. They were extremely nice.

The last band that I saw was Ron Sexsmith. According to Maddy he is a "musician's musician." I don't think she was far from the mark as Sexsmith's sound hit deep with smart lyrics and a Smith's smooth and creamy feel. He looks like Robert Smith but with more of a baby face. By this time in the night I was ready to rock so I ducked out of the show a bit early to catch Green Milk from the Planet Orange.

As usual, Green Milk from the Planet Orange fucking destroyed and they played a monsterously progressive set that started off ambient and quiet and before you know it, went full on into an acid psych battle! What is really amazing about the way Green Milk plays is that they totally lead you where they want to be situated within their music. It has a certain lull and tangential quality to it that swells and grows. It is tight, metered and definitely practiced. Green Milk's live show secretly instills in their fan base an appreciation for post-rock right underneath their noses! They are sneaky and surprising like that.