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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Down in the pit

More Spring Break '14 adventures with music filling the air and people every where.

Symphony Square located at the corner of 11th and Red River. along the banks of the mighty and beautiful Waller Creek. This lovely Amphitheater is small and unexpected, lying in the heart of beautiful downtown Austin, Texas. Just steps for the Capital building, and with you back to Serranos restaurant, there is always something good to eat or drink while you enjoy a show.

Supporting live local music and hosting events during SXSW is always a great place to start your daily adventures downtown.

This particular night we started out the night with some good Mexican beer and music from local superstars The Dirty Wormz ( If you have read my blog before you know that I am a huge fan and am not shy about following them. This night had some WormHeadz gathered down on Waller Creek, just across from the stage. Though there was not a tremendous crowd for the performance, as it was early, all in attendance where in for a treat. I, myself, was completely blown away by what happened next.

I have, what the Dirty Wormz call "The Viruz". The fever that you get, the shakes, the rapid heartbeat, and the ringing in the ears when you see and experience a full performance of the Dirty Wormz. I have been to SEVERAL head line shows of theirs. I have seen the lead singer, Smackola, do his solo set. This evening, it was just a little bit different and a lot more powerful.

Only having approximately 30 minutes on stage to do their thing, I was concerned about how much fun it would/could be. After bragging to my girlfriends brother Ivan about the prowess and power of the Wormz, I was a afraid of the let down. What a dumb ass am I! Once again, I was impressed, pleased, surprised, and had hella fun during this small 'Outbreak' of 'The Viruz'...and so did Ivan.

The Wormz did the unexpected and tore through their full set list in 30 minutes. With all the passion and fury they are known for, they did not fail. It was exciting seeing that they did shortened versions of their songs, the chorus lines, and still put in some musical filler to excite the small crowd in attendance.

Once again I tip my hat and use my digital pen to give proper respect to a great performance.

Our next stop was at The Dirty Dog ( for the Relapse Records Showcase. and I must say GODDAMN it feels good to be treated like a rock star. Thanks to Ben and the rest of the staff to the Dirty Dog, has been and will remain one of the 2 venues at the top of my list to just show up at and always have a good time with GREAT music. Check the web page and make it a point to stop in if you see something happening you like.

The thing to comment on is a Showcase crowd is a totally different animal than the normal crowd you would expect or see at a Death Metal show! The crowd was well dressed and polite....W E I R D!  Not knowing if Mariza or Ivan would appreciate the music, I told them I wanted to stay and check out this one band before we moved on.

Obliteration ( was the lucky band up and we were they lucky ones to experience it. Sharp, deep and clean, cutting through your soul. Obliteration was intense and had the crowds attention and everybody looking at the stage. It wasn't until 2 songs in that the lead singer introduced the band and where they were from. I then became really excited, experiencing a Black Metal band all the way from the shores of Norway. This, to me, was and is EPIC! The true brutality and dark dimensions of their music crossed over all of those borders. Obliteration not only impressed my country music loving girlfriend, but also her jazz loving brother. Damn fine stuff!

Oh Yeah! and then there was this dude. DJ'ing in the parking lot across from Mug Shots. This taken about an hour before the car accident.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Piece by piece

I am gonna post my spring break, musical experiences from Austin Texas piece by piece. First one I have to drop is from Fri. the 14th of March, my birthday! We did a couple of different events. First was at The Nook Amphitheater (?) on 6th St. Then we hustled down to 'Rock the Lot' at the parking lot of the Austin American Statesman.

First time at The Nook ( and let me say amphitheater in the loosest sense of the word. Don't let that stop you or bother you, with three different levels to hang out at and still watch the band, that is pretty damn cool. Plenty of bars for your drinking needs and quick service make it nice to hang out in. The entry is somewhat of a cat walk. As you walk in and look down you see the sub level, with a nice size stage against the entrance wall, it's back to 6th St. If you remain on the street level and go back, it opens into a very nice area, with stairs leading up to the open, second story. The whole set up is basically the gutted out remains of an old beloved music venue. The walls are the buildings next door and effectively there is no roof, just open to the world.

During the fun week of music that falls during Spring Break in March we made the journey here to see an old friends band and got the surprise of the week.

Black4 ( is a group of 4 guys from Chicago, Ill. With only a five day notice, they packed up their gear, and lucky for us, we caught them on their last day in Austin...and my life will never be the same. Without any question or hesitation, this was the most stunning, exciting, and best set I saw, not only this year, but probably in the last several years!

Showing up early to wait for our friends to take the stage (I will talk about that performance below) was unquestionably worth it. Black4 is what rock and roll used to be, and apparently still is in the hearts and souls of these 4. The live stage set was energetic, fun, and just down and dirty-in you face, BAD ASS! Not only can you feel the fun these guys were having onstage with their music, you felt the music rumbling your bones. The crowd was definitely taking notice here.

....I also don't normally review albums...It is called Live Music In Austin ya know. But lucky me to get a copy of Black4's album 'Tales of Cuatro Negro'. This is where you will undoubtedly hear and feel what I described about the live performance. I don't always like to use descriptions of what I think a band sounds like ('cause it it may not be what you hear, but I am gonna do that now). I want you to know what I felt and am talking about in their live performance and on the CD.

It has the bottom heavy, bass guitar- bass drum infused sound of Clutch with the vocals to match. The harmonies in the chorus very much like Black Sabbath of old (LOL harmonies...Black Sabbath...hehehe I am funny). And some punk/hard core infused lead guitar riffs and snare drum like any number of punk bands out there (real punk - World Burns to Death, Disclose, The Ramones...PUNK music! The perfect birth and rebirth of what Rock music needs today, used to be, and still lives in Black4!

Then our beautiful friend Ansley Hughes, with Super Water Sympathy (,  took the stage. WOW! A slightly different band arrangement. New drummer and bass player, but all good! Ansley apparently is in awe of the drumming prowess of their newest member Hali, telling me "She's the best! I love her energy and her dedication. I am so happy she is with us!"

Apparently regaining their strength, the crowd pushed forward for an amazing and electric set from SWS. The music was amazingly powerful, haunting, exciting, and slightly darker than their previous stuff, and it was all new music! Super Water Sympathy blasted through their set and I don't think anybody at the Nook took a breathe until Ansley finished. The most passionate set, albeit it was abbreviated, that I have seen to date from SWS. As I looked around in the crowd, there was no doubt the performance of SWS, did it to everyone. Even my new found friends in Black4 were overheard commenting about the performance.

Sorry you missed it, glad you are reading about it.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SXSW 2014

Here is my take on SXSW (the event as it exists) and my wrap up of who I saw and what I experienced.

To begin, I love the week of music from the multitude of bands that come in from out of town that SXSW brings. Bands the street, on the corner, in parking lots, and in the clubs. The unknown and the unsigned, looking for the moment of glory, and 'to get signed'! It is amazing, and glorious.

SXSW is the greatest culmination of raw talent looking to prove themselves, gain new ground or fans, and hopefully/ultimately maybe be the next big thing, EVER!

It hurts when I hear people hate on SXSW, BUT what I do agree about is the awful and ridiculous commercialization of what it is now. What it is now is quite stupid and a joke of itself.

Here is my example of the media brainwashing and destruction of SXSW that it has done to itself;
On two occasions, in two separate years - last year and this year, I have invited/asked people if they were going to go downtown during SXSW. The responses both times were sad and heartbreaking. "Oh, I can't go. I can't afford it." "I can't afford badges or wrist bands or whatever." Oh the horror!

My explanation to those people is simple. The event that is SXSW is free, there are tons of bands to see, tons of events to go to, many things to experience. The badges are just a ridiculous media hype. Why would you pay HUGE sums of money for a badge or a wrist band (that DOES NOT guarantee you entry - based on venue capacity)? Why would you pay LARGE sums of money for a badge or wrist band to go see a huge name artist? Jay -Z, Lady GaGa, or any other giant of the music world. Save your damn money and go see them at a concert venue, for a lot less! That makes no sense...does it?

Go to SXSW and enjoy those bands who are there to prove something. The variety of music is mind boggling. The shear size of the entertainment district is almost impossible to walk from one end to the other. Encompassing venues and spaces on both sides of IH 35. From well far above 6th St to south of the river. SXSW as an event, NOT a named entity, has tons to offer for free.

The purity of that week, the soul of what it is, means, and stands for, will NEVER die. The Live Music Capital of the World won't let that happen. Let the powers that be have the name SXSW cannibalize itself and become a living joke on itself.

Thank god for everyone and every thing that is out there to continually let people know.

Come to Austin. Come to SXSW. Play, have fun, and discover something new. It's all for the music, for the fans, and the best of all, the best that SXSW has to offer will ALWAYS be free!


p.s. - my write up for the fun I had and the experiences I had will come prepared!  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Save for the wicked

First time to see a live music performance at Elysium ( on Red River. Unassuming outside with a cool little fenced off area out front to host the smokers and a haven away from the crowd and sound inside. Inside the front entrance it opens into a large room with the bar dead in front of you, dance floor with DJ booth and stage immediately to your left. Plenty of lounge seating scattered all around. They even have a couple of pool tables in a far off back corner.

The stage hosted the 'Hunger Pains Tour' this particular evening. With a whole list of talent that started about 8 and ran all night. All of the local MC's and rappers mounted the stage one after another early on. Celebrate the Villain, Travis T w/Candace, Nemesis the Lyricist, Syko Sickness, and then Smackola of DWZ. Most of these opening bands were rappers trying to cut their teeth any way they can. Being on the opening bill of this tour is definitely a check mark on the resume of life.

A lot of the lyrical content for each of the groups were about the same. Smokin weed, fuck the police, damn the man...horrorcore. I will tell you what was attention getting out of each of them.

Celebrate the Villain ( are a duo with some smart lyrics. Not necessarily the filth lyrics of new, but intelligent, real, and watch out for the black helicopters. The actual vocal duo was really clean and damn near flawless with the back and forth between them.

Nemesis the Lyricist ( did his thing on stage. I believe he did a song called addiction or addicted that was pretty righteous.

Travis T w/Candace ( The rhymes and the flow were about the same here BUT from the young lady on stage, it was fuckin bad ass! It was unexpected, catchy, and she was really damn smooth. Worth checking out again in my book.

SYKO Sickness was the youngest of the guys on stage. Putting down his rhymes with no fear was pretty cool. I would like to see this MC get battle worn, get his head up, and put it out for every one. Do that shit right at the front edge of the stage and call people out in the audience with your rhymes. Can't wait to see him worn, torn, ripped and ready the next time.

Smackola DWZ ( w/DJ Crash ( finished off the set of local Austin talent with a BANG BANG! Without a doubt, still the pinnacle of Austin Rapcore! The founders and originators. Your favorite rock bands rock band! Even as a solo project this man and this duo is long lasting for a reason. The lyrics, the music, the stage presence and the command of the audience! Every young rapper and MC that was in the house this night should have been standing dead center of the stage and taking notes on everything this man did and does. Don't be an ass or a fool, The DWZ is here in Austin because of a love for the city. The contracts will come and go, but for a pound of flesh, Smackola will not sell his wicked soul!

The awesome part of the 30 minute solo set this evening...the fact that it was about an hour long. When the promoter is smart enough to leave you on stage because you have the crowd going, then damn the man, keep going!

The Hunger Pains Tour officially kicked off with -
G-Mo Skee ( In what G-Mo Skee terms Filth, G-Mo commands the audience. G-Mo plays to the anger in all of us, you hate the rich, you hate the government and you "hate that f*ckin b*tch ex". Getting the audience to sing along to his chorus lines was not funny or scary, but it sure was damn freaky to see everybody so entranced by his lyricism.

G-Mo Skee even through out the challenge to have some local MC's come on stage to do a cypher. Cool and impressive for him to give up part of his stage time for this. Even better when it just creates who whole other level and element to the performance. Check out the video of the cypher here

Dirtbag Dan ( came on stage and did his thing. A surprising apparition on the stage. Rolling through his set and keeping the few hardcore fans on the floor entertained . It was as much as a private show could be, for a public touring show, as I have ever seen. Dirtbag Dan was the irreverent Damn the man persona that I expected. Clear, concise, funny, and pissed off all at the same time made for a damn good set.

Kung Fu Vampire ( blew my away. Knowing of him from the video with Smackola (Save my Wicked Soul) was my loss. My win is seeing him perform live this evening. I really didn't know what to expect, but the PURE musical part of this was complete badassery! It was a performance piece without the stage theatrics. Damn straight that I have been watching his videos and streaming his music. He made a new fan here in the ATX and I will make damn sure I bring any and all with me the next time Kung Fu Vampire performs here!

Unfortunately for me Wrekonize was not scheduled for my part of the evening as I had to bail. My bad Craig.