STILL GOT IT: SXSW

Pasatiempo - - TERRELL’S TUNE-UP -

Austin, Texas. Once again, the crowds were too big, the traf­fic was too crazy, and the hype is get­ting way too ob­nox­ious. Yet here I was again back in Austin for an­other South by South­west mu­sic festival. And here I was again en­joy­ing some of my fa­vorite bands and hav­ing a great time — de­spite the crowds, the traf­fic, the un­re­lent­ing hype.

I was there with­out ac­tual festival cre­den­tials. (I don’t need no steenk­ing badges!) So I didn’t go to very many “of­fi­cial” festival show­cases. But, as veteran at­ten­dees know, t here are more than enough un­of­fi­cial shows to make up for that.

Here are some of the bet­ter ones I saw. ▼ Thee Oh Sees at Ho­tel

Ve­gas. This is the third time I’ve seen John Dwyer and his merry band. But nei­ther of the first two shows I saw was half as fierce, ag­gres­sive, or in­tense as the one I saw this year. They started off on full-blast warp speed and rarely eased up for the hour- plus they played. The lat­est ver­sion of Thee Oh Sees has two drum­mers, a bass player and, of course, leader John Dwyer on gui­tar, vo­cals, and oc­ca­sional key­boards. The crowd was well-past fired up, im­me­di­ately form­ing a fren­zied mosh pit, which in­spired a seem­ingly end­less stream of stage divers/ crowd surfers. It was as if the early’90s never ended. And yes, that can be off-putting to us older fans who don’t want to lose our den­tures to some id­iot slam dancer. Dwyer’s crazed oth­er­worldly mu­si­cal vision — the dis­torted falsetto vo­cals, the crazy sci-fi gui­tar bleeps and bloops — cuts to the bone. ▼ The Hick­oids at The White Horse. This long-run­ning Texas cow-punk goof­ball group has be­come one of my chief must-see bands ev­ery time I go to Austin. Hav­ing a Santa Fe crony, gui­tarist Tom Trus­novic, in the group helps, but I was al­ready a ca­sual Hick­head even be­fore he joined sev­eral years ago. I was a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive about see­ing the group this time be­cause it would be the first Hick­oids per­for­mance I would have seen since the death of orig­i­nal mem­ber, gui­tar slinger and cos­mic cow­boy Davy Jones. Ear­lier that evening, be­fore The White Horse show, Jones was hon­ored at the Austin Mu­sic Awards. Two years af­ter The Hick­oids were in­ducted into the Austin Mu­sic Hall of Fame, Jones was in­ducted as a “solo” artist. Head Hick­oid hon­cho, Jeff Smith, was there to ac­cept that award. He held it up on­stage at The White Horse be­fore the band started play­ing. Then the sur­viv­ing Hick­oids pro­ceeded to live up to Jones’ mem­ory, bash­ing through some of their great­est hits in­clud­ing “Git Back on the Truck,” “Cool Ar­row,” “Work­ing Man’s Friend” and the fab­u­lously filthy “Stop It! You’re Killing Me.” By the end, we were all scream­ing for more. Davy would have been proud. And the next night, I caught Trus­novic play­ing at The 04 Lounge with the lat­est ver­sion of his garage/ punk group Mon­keyshines, which he started years ago in Santa Fe. Mon­keyshines still has that wild joy­ful noise. ▼ The Waco Brothers at the Yard Dog Gallery. The Wa­cos’ per­for­mance at the an­nual Blood­shot Records party has been a SXSW high­light for 20 years now. You al­ways know it will be a fun show. But this year, Jon Lang­ford, Dean Sch­labowske, Tracey Dear, and the oth­ers seemed su­per­charged. The old songs — “See Wil­lie Fly By,” “Plenty Tuff and Union Made,” “Do You Think about Me” — sounded more vi­tal than that they have in years, and their new tunes from their re­cently re­leased Go­ing Down in His­tory were all punches that landed. ▼ Timmy Thomas at Saxon Pub. Thomas is a Mi­amibased soul singer who had a hit in 1973 called “Why Can’t We Live To­gether.” That was his big­gest suc­cess, though Thomas kept record­ing for an­other decade or so, rou­tinely hit­ting the R&B charts. He ba­si­cally dropped out of sight for a few decades. But then last

year Drake sam­pled a lit­tle bit of “Why Can’t We Live To­gether” and that seemed to give Thomas a late­ca­reer sec­ond wind. Play­ing with a band com­plete with a cou­ple of sax play­ers, Thomas, whose vo­cals re­mind me a lit­tle bit of Swamp Dog, per­formed a funky set in­clud­ing old hits and ma­te­rial from an up­com­ing come­back record. ▼ Eve & The Ex­iles at The Con­ti­nen­tal Club. Eve Mon­sees, a lo­cal Austin fa­vorite, is one amaz­ing gui­tarist. She’s a long­time friend and for­mer school­mate of blues­man Gary Clark Jr.’s and a co- owner of An­tone’s Record Shop. She’s been play­ing since she was a kid, and the fact that she loves it is ob­vi­ous in ev­ery note she plays. The first time I saw her was a cou­ple of years ago when she was per­form­ing with The Blue­bon­nets, exGo- Go Kathy Valen­tine’s group. On Wed­nes­day she was fronting her own band, The Ex­iles, at a Con­ti­nen­tal Club event called Garage Fest Day Party. It’s a sim­ple gui­tar/ gui­tar/ bass/drums quar­tet with Eve han­dling nearly all the vo­cals. To­gether they make a tasty bluesy, garagey, early Stonesy stew. ▼ The Wog­gles at Garage Fest

Day Party. This veteran garage band from Ge­or­gia spe­cial­izes in un­re­lent­ing, raw-rock­ing, soul-in­formed good-time sounds. They’ve been around since the early ’90s. They def­i­nitely look their age, and they seem a lit­tle un­com­fort­able in their lit­tle match­ing red-and-black uni­forms. But all this only adds to their crazy charm. They’ve got more en­ergy than a hun­dred horny teenagers, and singer Mighty Man­fred takes the role of a hyped up mas­ter of cer­e­monies of a party that might just last for­ever. Man­fred an­nounced that “Karate Mon­key,” a Chubby Checker song The Wog­gles cover, is the best dance song in the world. I was skep­ti­cal at first. And then, The Wog­gles re­moved all doubt. ▼ Night Beats at The Mo­hawk. This Seat­tle-based psychedelic trio, which has roots in Texas, was play­ing all over Austin dur­ing South by South­west, but I didn’t catch the group un­til late Satur­day af­ter­noon, near the end of the festival. They looked ex­hausted, but they man­aged to play an en­er­getic set. Like many of the first-wave acid-rock groups, Night Beats fuse spacey gui­tar with hopped-up soul riffs. While their in­stru­men­tals hint at mind-ex­pand­ing ex­cur­sions, un­like your typ­i­cal “jam bands,” they tend to keep their songs nice and short. The group has a new al­bum, Who Sold My Gen­er­a­tion, which I just or­dered. Stay tuned.

The Wog­gles have got more en­ergy than a hun­dred horny teenagers, and singer Mighty Man­fred takes the role of a hyped up mas­ter of cer­e­monies of a party that might just last for­ever.

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