SXSW2005 - the days before...

Friday, 11-March 2005

I arrived in Austin just in time to witness Slobberbone’s farewell tour. The people lining up in front of the Parish had traveled from all over the world to see Slobberbone's last show in Austin (there were two more in their hometown of Denton, Texas).

Grand Champeen @ The Parish

“Grand Champeen shows nearly always climax in a glorious chaos that stems from the quartet's abundant rock energy spilling over into the audience.” – Christopher Gray, Austin Chronicle
Grand Champeen
Slobberbone had invited their two favorite local bands for their “last waltz” in Austin, and Grand Champeen kicked off the event with a raucous, yet somewhat uninspired set. The crowd only got into the show when Brent Best jumped onstage to join them for a song.

The Damnations @ The Parish

“After inspiring a regional fan base with stellar harmonies and gritty roots rock, the Damnations – sisters Deborah Kelly and Amy Boone with Ron Bernard – grabbed the major label brass ring, Sire, only to see it spawn headaches. Indie in spirit, country in acoustics, the Damnations released Where It Lands in 2002 on their own Joy-Ride Records.” – David Lynch, Austin Chronicle
The Damnations set was marred by technical difficulties, and the newer, more piano-based material didn’t go over too well with the audience. Many in the crowd used the chance to light up outside of the now smoke-free Parish.

Slobberbone @ The Parish

"Rock and roll the way it was meant to be: loose, loud and boozy, with equal amounts of swagger and honesty..." – Miles Of Music
Slobberbone at a non-smoking venue? Hard to imagine, but the guys managed to get through the set without lighting up, despite being tempted by some fans, who threw cigarettes on stage.
They started off with “Days That Used To Be”, followed by “Placemat Blues”, in a set which contained many crowd-pleasers such as “Gimme Back My Dog”, “Engine Joe”, “Billy Prichard”, “Lazy Guy”, and “Pinball Song”.
Pausing between songs, Brent told the crowd about how the various members had joined the band, and the key role that Austin and local bands had played when they started out. They played another Neil Young cover towards the end, “Big Time” from Broken Arrow, before launching into a post-2am version of “Whiskey-Glass-Eye”, which ended in an extended feedback orgy.

Saturday, 12-March 2005

Patrice Pike @ Momo’s
Patrice Pike
“Patrice Pike can count herself among the most dedicated local musicians, an effort she's devoted herself to since her teens. Her soulful vocals and rocker-girl persona made Sister 7 (née Little Sister) one of the seminal jam bands of the Nineties, landing the acclaimed band on Arista. In the past few years, Pike has concentrated her efforts on songwriting, paying off with critical praise for her Black Box Rebellion solo album, Fencing Under Fire.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
Patrice Pike
Patrice Pike started her show with two terrific songs, a strong new number (possibly titled “Ridiculous Mess”), and one of the best Sister 7 songs, “Under The Radar”.
Patrice Pike
A nice surprise was to see that Steve Wedemeyer now plays guitar in her band. All in all, another good, long show by Patrice and her band, clocking in at over two hours. Check out one of her songs on her SXSW page.
Steve Wedemeyer  Patrice Pike

Tuesday, 15-March 2005
10th annual Swollen Circus - hosted by Walter Salas-Humara and Michael Hall
Swollen Circus

Jon Nolan @ Hole In The Wall
“Smart and introspective americana/pop anchored by Jon's stirring and brilliantly emotive vocals, earnest songwriting, […]” – Jon Nolan Press info
Jon Nolan
Say ZuZu had been regulars at SXSW, and it was good to see former member Jon Nolan carrying on the tradition, introducing some strong material from his upcoming album. One song titled “Hope, Arkansas” dealt with some road stories from the SayZuZu days. Marlee MacLeod joined him on the third and final song.
Jon Nolan + Marlee MacLeod

Hitchhike @ Hole In The Wall
“[Night Light] presents a band that plays from the heart. The tunes are extremely unpretentious...using only the bare essentials to get the point across. Neat guitars combine with driving rhythms to create hummable pop tunes that are smart and unique.” – BabySue review
There was nothing wrong with the music made by Hitchhike, except that it was not very memorable...

Michelle Anthony @ Hole In The Wall
“A protégé of Jay Bennett, Michelle Anthony's 2004 debut, Stand Fall Repeat, evoked Chrissie Hynde on an bender.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Michelle Anthony
Michelle Anthony and her band managed to grab the attention of the crowd - they cranked up the amps and delivered an energetic, rootsy set with twangy undertones. Check out one of the songs from her debut here.
Michelle Anthony

Spottiswoode and His Enemies @ Hole In The Wall
“Has Tom Petty gone cabaret? According to Englishman-cum-New Yorker Jonathan Spottiswoode and the rockin' soul of his heady debut, Building a Road, you can guess the answer.” – Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle
More Cabaret than Petty, the set by Spottiswoode and his six “arseholes”, as he referred to his band, provided a change of pace and instrumentation (accordion, saxophone, trumpet), and was met with polite applause.

Michael Hall & The Woodpeckers @ Hole In The Wall
“After completing three albums as the leader of Austin's crafty and intelligent Wild Seeds, North Carolina-born singer/guitarist/keyboardist (and former music journalist) Michael Hall moved into a similarly wise and winning solo career, also distinguished by exemplary, incisive songwriting and easygoing musical charisma.” – Ira Robbins, Trouser Press
Michael Hall
Co-host Michael Hall and his Woodpeckers steered proceedings back into more familiar territory with their only performance of the week. Unfortunately they did not play any brand new songs, but it was great to hear older material as well: they performed “America”, “My Girl Bill” and “Angel”.
Michael Hall

The Silos @ Hole In The Wall
“Still going strong after all these years, the Silos find themselves a trio fronted by Walter Salas-Humara. As always, they shape roots rock with massive amounts of guts and heart into an utterly attractive whole. When the Telephone Rings (Dualtone) was hailed worldwide as one of the band's finest.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Silos + Tom Freund
Fresh off their European tour, which had ended just three days before, the Silos were in fine form and started their set with a new song, “Tell Me You Love Me”. For “Take A Hit” they were joined by Tom Freund (who co-wrote this song) and Steve McCormick playing piano. They closed with “The Only Love” from their latest album (listen to the song here).

Marlee MacLeod @ Hole In The Wall
“Marlee MacLeod plays rich, full-sounding alt-country with a heavy pop/rock bent and earnest, driving numbers such as "Wish I Could" and "Flying Time" make [Like Hollywood] an appealing album for fans across genres.” - Erik Hage,
Marlee MacLeod
Another Swollen Circus “exclusive” for the SXSW week: It was good to see Marlee MacLeod back in Austin after a few years. However, even with the addition of Jon Nolan on guitar and backing vocals, her set was a bit too quiet for the partying crowd.

Steve Wynn & The Miracle Three @ Hole In The Wall
Steve Wynn + Walter Salas-Humara
“Those who haven't seen Steve Wynn lately and only remember him from his days in the Dream Syndicate or Gutterball owe it to themselves to witness the new groove he's captured with the Miracle 3.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Jason Victor
After taking a year off from the road, Steve Wynn was all over Austin this week. Coming straight out of recording sessions for a new album, Steve and the Miracle 3 sounded as fresh and tight as ever. And, sandwiched between “Death Valley Rain” and “The Days Of Wine Of Roses” the enthusiastic crowd got to hear a new song titled “I Really, Really Hope That The Bruises Don't Show”.
Dave DeCastro

Paul The Girl @ Hole In The Wall
“Paul's voice, which could be described as kittenish only if the kitten had very big teeth, soars, screeches and gargles, capable of lulling sweetness and alarming swoops, hiccups and shrieks. That's not to say that this is difficult music: enormously sophisticated, yes, but the propulsive clatter of “Don't You Know Yet Who I Am” and the gorgeous drawl of “Electro-Magnetic Blues” (the title track of her new album) prove she can write addictive choruses, too.” - David Peschek, The Guardian
Paul The Girl
With wild guitar shredding and semi-hysterical vocals, Paul The Girl seems to be an acquired taste.
Paul The Girl

Stan Ridgway & His Acoustic Trio @ Hole In The Wall
“One of the most unique singer/songwriters in American indie music, with an unforgettable adenoidal vocal delivery that makes him sound like a low-level wise guy in one of those old Warner Bros. gangster films of the '30s and a lyrical obsession with the themes of pulp crime novels and film noir, Stan Ridgway is a true original. From his early days with quirky Los Angeles new wavers Wall of Voodoo to his even more intriguing solo career, Ridgway has created an impressive, if at times somewhat inscrutable and increasingly bleak, body of work.” - Stewart Mason,
Stan Ridgway
Continuing on from Spottiswoode’s set earlier, “Assholes”, seemed to be Stan Ridgeway’s favorite word this evening. He started with a spoken word piece about Austin and the Hole in The Wall as soundcheck, and finished with “Ring Of Fire”.
Stan Ridgway

Last Train Home @ Hole In The Wall
“Last Train Home's True North is chock-full of melodic country-rock. And while many of the group's roots rock and alt-country peers play at sadness for its whiskey- and beer-soaked platitudes, Last Train Home exudes pensive, gorgeous melancholy, punctuated by occasionally clever wordplay.” - John Duffy,
Last Train Home + Steve Wedemeyer
Last Train Home were joined by Steve Wedemeyer on guitar and Drew Glackin on bass. I had never been able to see this band live before, so it was good to be finally rewarded with a solid, yet short set, which they ended with a fabulous version of Dylan’s “Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You”.
Last Train Home + Steve Wedemeyer

The High Strung @ Hole In The Wall
“The High Strung don't do garage rock per se. Instead of going for bluesy guitar chops like some of their Motor City counterparts, these Detroit natives-turned-Brooklyn ruffians sugarcoat rock & roll for a '60s psychedelic/indie rock blend. Call it garage pop if you like. […] The aptly titled These Are Good Times finds a band with incredible chemistry that's not too far from the nervy, candied sounds of Superdrag and Fountains of Wayne.” - MacKenzie Wilson,
The High Strung
Dressed in matching outfits, The High Strung had just finished another show across town and brought quite a few of their fans with them to the Hole. They played until the houselights came on at 2am to end another fun Circus.
The High Strung

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2005