SLUG Slides Through SXSW

Chris Mitchell
Elephant Room 03.15
Official SXSW Showcase
Chris Mitchell = Kenny G + Dave Koz + Fred Meyer circa 1993

On our last day in Austin, my fellow correspondent Joshua Joye, also a lover of Midcentury bebop, suggested I visit the Elephant Room Downtown, where lots of jazz shows happen. I headed over by myself to see Chris Mitchell. I had never heard of him, but I was looking forward to a break from all the rap and punk shows I was attending. The typical basement jazz club was a cool, dark respite from the madness above ground, and I settled into an inconspicuous table off to the side. I treated myself to an expensive beer. At the first sip, a sax-wielding figure in the back of the club began to blow. The crowd turned. Chris Mitchell began a slow progression up the aisle, shoving his horn in patrons’ faces as he played lame, un-stimulating ’90s mall jazz. He joined his backing band at the front of the room and I began to sweat. I was in jazz Hell. Not free jazz, not bop, not cool whatsoever. They call it “contemporary smooth jazz”—every song sounded like the saxophone hook from George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” The white, middle-aged audience loved it. After switching to clarinet, Mitchell ended a song with one shrill note that lasted about two minutes. The crowd went wild. It was like watching a man masturbate onstage to resounding applause. He dragged the note on, waggling his clarinet up between tables until a security guy shook his head, signaling him to return to the stage. At the end of the song, Mitchell said, “I know y’all never met anyone like me before.” Yeah, I have—when Dave Chappelle impersonated Rick James on Chappelle’s Show. This was one of the most embarrassing performances I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m pretty sure Chris Mitchell was completely serious. –Cody Kirkland

Dinos Boys
Hotel Vegas 03.12
Punk, Showcase
Dinos Boys = The Damned x The Boys

There’s just something about the very name, Dinos Boys, which had me in raptures when I was assigned to watch this band of whom I’d never heard before. It was late afternoon on the cusp of evening as the sunset shone through an open door at Hotel Vegas, and the whole affair made me feel like I was at “Dino’s Bar and Grill” from Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” As I caught sight of co-singer/guitarist Danny Song’s Still Little Fingers T-shirt, I knew that I was in for a treat—his getup and the other singer/guitarist, Chase Noles’ black-and-red Freddy Krueger long-sleeve and denim vest with a 999 back patch suggested that these guys were tried and true punx leftover from a forgotten era. Noles’ ’70s Chelsea mullet lent him a look akin to Stiv Bators’ white-trash visage, and as they kicked off the jams, I was sent to a ’77 wonderland. Song and Noles gang up on vocals throughout most of their songs, which lends each cut an anthemic feel. I wish I knew the words, because everything they scream-sang elicited the urge to sing along, which was indicative of their street rock n’ roll candor. One song that stood out at this performance and the next one at which I caught the Atlanta–based band was “She Cut Me,” which can be found on their Bandcamp page, demdinosboys.bandcamp.com. The song is simultaneously tough and catchy with an “ohh” punctuating the chorus. After their set, I approached Song to let him know that I thought Dinos Boys’ set was “fuckin’ awesome,” and to express that it had been a LONG time since I’d seen a ’77 band. He replied, “We’re the only ’77 band.” They’re snotty, and it rules. –Alexander Ortega