SXSW2007 - Day 3
Serena Ryder, Jets Overhead, Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy, American Princes, John Doe, The Moog, Buffalo Tom, Phonograph, Carrie Rodriguez, The Paybacks, Hoodoo Gurus, Tift Merritt, Bigbang, The Brought Low, Downbeat 5, Luke Doucet, Justin Rutledge
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Serena Ryder @ Jovita’s
Unlikely Emergency [is] genuinely really good. Ryder's voice and guitar are backed by Toronto art pop gadfly Hawksley Workman (who produces and plays drums), and a pair of his regular cohorts, bassist Derrick Brady, and ex-Waltons keyboardist Todd Lumley, but this is Ryder's show all the way. [With] inventively weird songs like the voice-and-drums holler "Sing Sing" and catchy pop tunes like "Just Another Day," Unlikely Emergency has the depth and range of a seasoned pro.” - Stewart Mason, allmusic.com
After a enjoying a hearty breakfast taco in East Austin my first stop of the day was at the Austin Music Magazine party at Jovita’s: Serena Ryder, who is based in Toronto, is quickly gaining momentum across Canada with her second album, which is about to be released in the US on Backporch Records. A nice solo acoustic set which showcased the strength of her songs.
Serena Ryder
Serena Ryder
Serena Ryder

Jets Overhead @ Headhunters’ Patio
“Impossibly cool Canadians who readily admit to having Pink Floyd, the Velvet Underground, and The Who in their collection” - Hot Press Dublin
At the CD Baby party at Headhunters, another Canadian band was on stage, this time from the other end of the country: Jets Overhead played poppy melodies over hypnotic grooves and got an enthusiastic response from the crowd, a challenging task so early in the day. Listen to one of their songs here.
Jets Overhead
Jets Overhead
Jets Overhead
Jets Overhead

Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy @ Habana Calle 6 Annex
“Nashville-based instrumental rock combo Los Straitjackets have been proving for years that rock & roll is a truly universal language by doing away with vocals, but for this album the masked guitar manglers have decided to focus on a more specific tongue — namely Spanish. For Rock en Español, Vol. 1, Los Straitjackets have recruited three talented friends to perform a set of rock & roll classics in Spanish […] Rock en Español, Vol. 1 is a fine tribute to some of the less commonly explored aspects of rock & roll's Latin roots, and it's great stuff for either listening or dancing.” - Mark Deming, allmusic.com
The Yep Rock Records party offered some superb acts (and good food) this afternoon: I wasn’t familiar with Los Straitjackets before, but their Surf Rock&Roll (with a strong emphasis on the Roll) was just perfect for a party. Big Sandy joined them for a few songs, including an excellent Spanish version of The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night”. Fun!
Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy
Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy
Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy

Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy
Los Straitjackets with Big Sandy

American Princes @ Habana Calle 6 Annex
“American Princes are a edgy but tuneful indie rock foursome whose angular guitar lines and anxiety-inflected vocals blend with hooky melodies and solid rhythms to create a sound that mixes these disparate elements like a cool gin and tonic.” - Mark Deming, allmusic.com
The MP3 I had heard had sounded interesting, but their live performance was a bit uneven and bleak.
American Princes
American Princes
American Princes
American Princes

John Doe @ Habana Calle 6 Annex
“Like most original '70s punks, this tall, wiry man has heart; but more than his untamed brethren, he betrays an active intelligence, personable friendliness, unwavering social consciousness, and roots music history grasp. [A Year In The Wilderness] isn't the dark LP his bio or title suggests, but rather a convincing, more consistent affair than 2005's excellent but scattershot, oddly sequenced Forever Hasn't Happened Yet, and its best half-dozen songs mirror the folk-pop of his 2002 masterpiece Dim Stars Bright Sky.” – The Big Takeover
I’m not a huge John Doe fan, but seeing him perform is always enjoyable, and his setat the Yep Rock party was no exception.
John Doe
John Doe
John Doe
John Doe
John Doe

In recent years, the Pop Culture Press party usually took place at the Dog & Duck Pub on the Saturday, but it had been moved to Friday this year due to the St. Patrick's Day festivities planned for the next day. The Moog from Hungary tried to fill the empty space in front of the stage with youthful energy...
The Moog
The Moog
The Moog
The Moog

Buffalo Tom @ Dog & Duck Pub
“When they released their first album in 1989, the Boston-based trio Buffalo Tom was written off as Dinosaur Jr. junior. Admittedly, their debut was in debt to J Mascis' thundering guitar and folk-tinged songs and it didn't help that Mascis produced the record, either. Over time, Buffalo Tom stripped away their grungier influences and developed into a straight-ahead rock group of the early '90s, capable of throttling rockers and beautiful ballads.” - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com
During the first half of the 90’s Buffalo Tom spent a lot time in Europe and I got to see them regularly, including a memorable show in front of tens of thousands enthusiastic brits opening for Soundgarden and Neil Young at the famous Reading festival in 95. Now a new album is in the works, and their set didn’t disappoint: “You'll Never Catch Him”, a new song, fit right in with classics such as “Velvet Roof”, “Rachael”, “Taillights Fade” or “Treehouse”. The band sounded tight and definitely enjoyed themselves, and so did I. Unfortunately the set was over much too quickly…
Buffalo Tom
Buffalo Tom
Buffalo Tom
Buffalo Tom

Phonograph @ Dog & Duck Pub
“Phonograph's sound is a combination of city and country, analog and digital, organic and synthetic. The Brooklyn-based outfit enhances their country-edged guitar-based rock foundation with some artful studio trickery. […] The band does a terrific job of balancing their arty and rock-y elements to make post-modern Americana music that isn't rooted in old-school traditions but yet has not gone over the deep end into avant-garde noodling either.” - Michael Berick, allmusic.com
Phonograph sounded good, there wasn’t much studio trickery involved in the live performance. But Buffalo Tom was a hard act to follow, and the band had a hard time connecting with the audience. Listen to one of their songs here.
Phonograph
Phonograph
Phonograph

Carrie Rodriguez @ Scholz Biergarten
“After four years as one half of a duo with the legendary Chip Taylor, Carrie Rodriguez has stepped out on her own with her first solo effort, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. Although a majority of the songs still bear Taylor's songwriting touch, Seven Angels on a Bicycle finds Rodriguez plumbing the depths of traditional country as well as experimenting stylistically. The end result is a tenacious collection of love-themed songs tied together by Rodriguez's brassy contralto.” – Tracy M. Rogers, puremusic.com
A couple of blocks east Texas Music Magazine was celebrating its reader appreciation party, which gave me a chance to see a longer set by Carrie Rodriguez after. She’s a gifted live performer and her band s simply amazing.
Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez

The Paybacks @ Dog & Duck Pub
“The third time really does seem to be the charm for Wendy Case and her latest lineup of the Paybacks — their third album, Love, Not Reason is the band's tightest, hardest, and most satisfying effort to date. […] Merging the swagger of hard rock, the no-compromise commitment of punk, and a very '70s sense of melodic thunder, Love, Not Reason demonstrates the Paybacks are one of the few bands on the Detroit scene whose work can stand beside that of their fabled forefathers of the Grande Ballroom era, and anyone looking for an aural dose of high energy will find it right here." - Mark Deming, allmusic.com
Back at the Dog & Duck the volume was up a notch or two with The Paybacks - a much needed late afternoon jolt of energy! Excellent!
The Paybacks
The Paybacks 
The Paybacks
The Paybacks
The Paybacks

The Hoodoo Gurus @ Dog & Duck Pub
“Like most bands, Australia's Hoodoo Gurus were largely the product of their influences; unlike most bands, however, the Hoodoos channelled their inspiration from the vast entirety of the American pop cultural landscape, drawing on such disparate sources as B-movies, bad sitcoms, and junk food — in tandem with the usual suspects like garage rock, power pop, and surf — to create a distinctly kitschy and catchy sound.” - Jason Ankeny, allmusic.com
It was great to have another chance to catch the Hoodoo Gurus again – almost 20 years after seeing them for the first time. I still have a hard time understanding what singer Dave Faulkner says between songs, but their songs are as catchy as ever.
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus

Tift Merritt @ Jo’s
“Tift Merritt's sophomore release, 2004's Tambourine (Lost Highway), was Grammy nominated for Best Country Album, but the North Carolinian makes music far from today's mainstream country. Her warm, hearty vocals mingle with a Stax-era soul vibe, superimposed with a sturdy brand of country rock.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
I was very happy to see that Tift Merritt has made her appearances at Jo’s during SXSW somewhat of a tradition. Brad Rice didn’t play with her this year, but Jay Brown (bass), Zeke Hutchins (drums) and Bukka Allen (accordion) were on stage for most of her set, which included a mix of songs from her two albums such as “Stray Paper” or “Good Hearted Man”, brand new songs, a terrific older, unreleased song called “Morning Is My Destination” and a beautiful cover version of “Woodstock”.
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt

Bigbang @ Spill
“BigBang has recorded six albums of tight stage rock, grunge magic and acoustic, backwoods balladry, including the best selling live album in Norwegian history. They seem to have perfected melding Allman Brothers-like harmonies, the hum-along quality of a really good Tom Petty and the guitar outbursts of a J. Mascis moment.” - Evan George, LA Alternative
After such a fantastic afternoon with so many great sets I wasn’t sure how the evening would compare. But it began with yet another superb showcase by Norway’s Bigbang. It had been almost five years since I had last seen the band, and I had forgotten what a great live band they were. Despite having hardly any voice left, singer / guitar player Øystein Greni gave it all in front of a super-enthusiastic audience with the following songs: “Where The World Comes To An End”, “Early December”, “From Acid To Zen And Back Again”, “Saturn Freeway”, “To the Mountains”, “Hurricane Boy” and “Wildbird”.
Bigbang
Bigbang
Bigbang
Bigbang
Bigbang

The Brought Low @ Room 710
“The Brought Low are a rough midpoint between the Black Crowes' unabashed Faces worship and the ironic retro-glam posturing of the Darkness: Right on Time is the sound of a band that's deliberately re-creating a long-past time and place, but this dose of '70s heavy rock sounds entirely sincere. The Brought Low's obvious influences include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the James Gang, and Bad Company.” - Stewart Mason, allmusic.com
When in need of some heavier sounds during SXSW the Small Stone Records showcase at Room 710 is always a sure bet: The Brought Low continued on from where Bigbang had left off. Listen to one of their songs here.
The Brought Low
The Brought Low
The Brought Low
The Brought Low

Downbeat 5 @ Blender Bar at the Ritz
“Singer Jennifer D'Angora is like a primal Joan Jett with a punky touch of Patti Smith and the Ramones. Guitarist JJ Rassler is known for his heyday with punkers DMZ, but this band represents a tremendous revival of spirit for him.” - Boston Globe
One of the bands I really looked forward to seeing this year was Australia’s You Am I. I had missed out on two chances to see them earlier in the day, but I was pretty sure that I would be able to get into the Dirty Dog to catch their official showcase. However, when I arrived there was a long line; as I don’t like wasting my time waiting in lines I moved on to the Ritz. There was a short line as well, but the it moved quickly so I got to see a few songs by the Downbeat 5, which were really great to watch.
Downbeat 5
Downbeat 5
Downbeat 5
Downbeat 5
Downbeat 5

The Hoodoo Gurus @ Blender Bar at the Ritz
Now it was time for a difficult decision: Should I try to get into the Dirty Dog again to catch the second half of You Am I or should I stick around to the Hoodoo Gurus again, this time for a longer set? The Blender Bar was filling quickly, so I decided to stay put. It was a good decision, the band delivered a fun-filled 45 minute-long “Greatest Hits” set: “A Place In The Sun”, “I Want You Back”, “Domino”, “Death-Defying”, “Come Anytime”, “Tojo”, “Miss Freelove ‘69”, “Bittersweet”, What’s My Scene”, “The Right Time” and “Like Wow – Wipeout”.
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus
Hoodoo Gurus

My last stop for the night was at the Light Bar, a place which set a new low as far as SXSW venues go. Located on the roof-top of a dance club, the “stage” was a fenced-off, elevated portion of the patio. On the other hand with well over $5 for a bottle of domestic beer the place set a new high for beer prices at the event. Luke Doucet was just wrapping up his set behind bars, before Justin Rutledge and his band delivered another terrific performance: “Robin’s Tune”, “I'm Your Man, You're My Radio”, “1855”, “Does It Make You Rain”, “Emily Returns”, “This Is War”, “To Sober To Sleep” and “Special”.
Luke Doucet
Justin Rutledge

All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2007