Festival Crashers welcomes @DoctorCollins steps back for his second guest post to cover three shows at Stubbs Friday night. @ZackTeibloom considered a crash and made it as far as the door, but wasn’t feeling it and @chrisinaustin had another adventure in mind. Thanks to @doctorcollins for letting us know we missed a lot. They even took @supercooleric’s 16-year-old brother’s concert V-card*.
@DoctorCollins Take a moment to think about the first concert you ever went to**. Mine was Jimmy Buffet at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. One friend’s first was Sugar Ray, featuring a before-their-prime Smash Mouth as the opening act. Other answers to that question included New Kids on the Block, Weird Al, and a Swedish death metal band (I didn’t even know that was possible). So the fact that a @supercooleric’s little brother got to experience a smattering of up-and-coming local bands as his first concert ever, I’d say he is off to a pretty good start. Sure he tripped over some stairs and poured half of his Coke on a guy’s crotch but he was also instinctually moving closer to the stage every time he saw an opening in the crowd. It was fun to glance over and witness him taking everything in for the first time – made me appreciate all the shows I’ve been spoiled rotten with by living in Austin.
Friday night was no different. Neon Indian blew up Stubb’s cozy indoor stage with fat, funky electronic beats providing a trampoline for the vocals and other instruments to jump off from. Sure, there were four musicians on the stage throughout the show, but the real heart of this band is frontman Alan Palomo who hovered over the soundboard like a chemist throughout most of the set. Constantly tweaking and adjusting his reverberated vocals, I was very appreciative he rolled out the full band, considering he could have just as easily plopped a laptop on the stage and produced the same sound. Sure his band mates were great – especially the scarf-eschewed bass guitarist and the oh-so-demure keyboardist – but it was Palomo and his floppy hair that brought life to their performance.
Neon Indian has the sound and feel of a band that could take off at any moment. They’ve got a clear audiophile at the helm in Palomo (who is also involved with Ghosthustler and VEGA) that is bound to succeed in the music industry in some capacity, whether it ends up being with Neon Indian or not is up to him. You can tell the band’s sound isn’t quite there yet, but with a few minor adjustments and the addition of a much needed laser light show you can easily picture Neon Indian playing outside at Stubb’s to a packed house. You’ve got to hope the band has the opportunity to find their stride before this whole indie electro thing fades out. I can’t help but get the feeling that in a year or so I’ll be bragging to friends that “I saw Neon Indian way back before they were famous in some little barbecue joint in Texas.”
Wondering how the Brooklyn-based Tigercity was included in woxy’s first of a series of shows dedicated to showcasing local music? I overhead the drummer tell a fan he was from a suburb of Austin, so its nice to know woxy is going for some deep cuts on the local scene. Celebrating the recent release of their second LP, Tigercity rocked out like they were the headlining band, playing a longer set than both The Tunnels and Neon Indian.
There’s nothing especially unique about their music, its just good clean fun. The variance in their songs keeps concert goers engaged – you can be dancing along to a playful dance number one moment and singing along with an indie rock ballad the next. The occasional use of bassist Joel Ford’s high-pitched vocals adds much needed depth that matches up well with lead man Bill Gillim’s bald-headed crooning ways.
I was quite impressed by the band drinking water during the whole set, maybe because I’m used to using my rock stars getting wasted and acting ridiculous, but these guys were all business. Ford is an energetic, dedicated rocker who has the look of a good New York jew who calls his mother after every show. Each band member was all smiles during the show. You can tell these guys enjoy the music they create and are eager to share it with those that will listen.
The Tunnels played a somewhat blasé series of songs that included a blatant rip off of a Dandy Warhols song (I still think it think it might have been a cover even though my “Dandys” expert insists it wasn’t). Regardless, I wanted to like this band more than I did. They’ve got the look of a traveling mountain gypsy band and a Velvet Underground feel that makes you wish it was rainy outside. Unfortunately the music was a bit uninspired. During one of the last songs the band spent the entire track facing away from the audience, which didn’t add much in the category of showmanship. The tinny, under produced sound of The Tunnels sounds great when its coming out of your laptop speakers but at a live show it just sounds like their sound check got cut short.
My most enjoyable observation of the night was each band member hanging out on the patio after their set. Many of them smoked cigarettes, all of them talked with cute hipster girls and each person took a turn manning the merch station. They felt right at ease amongst the crowd, which I suppose is a good thing for a homegrown concert series.
*His ears were ringing, but it didn’t hurt as much as he thought and he wished he’d done it earlier.
**I like to say mine was Beach Boys when my mom was pregnant with me, but the first show I remember was Ray Charles at Ravinia. First festival was Jamboree ’97 with Beck and Bush headlining.