WHY?, The Black and a nice surprise back at the hotel

Categories: SXSW

Things started off on a bad note today (Get it? Music festival... notes... bad… nevermind) thanks to an '80s hair band I think was called Mella's Mattice. It was hard to make out the name, as I was too busy trying to chug a free beer and get the hell out of there. I'm glad I live in Texas and don't feel bad about chunking half a free Lone Star. So, if you hear of a band with a similar name - run. (Consequently, I apologize to any band named Matta Mallice, Bella's Battice or any other sound-alike.)

Next up we caught electro-pop rockers WHY? at Emo's Annex, and things got dancey. And then it was off to Emo's Jr. for a little comedy with Eugene Mirman – who had my favorite quote of the day: "Somebody asked me what my twitter was…" That's it, that's the joke – as well as Mike Birbiglia and Todd Barry. You can catch these guys at showcases throughout the week at Esther's Follies and The Velveeta room.

Equipment issues didn't faze Austin's The Black over at The Beauty Bar. During the '90s female-fronted grunge punks' set, the lead singer warned "We're about to have devastating technical difficulties," and about a minute into the next song the bassist's amp cut out. But that didn't stop him – dude just grabbed a tambourine and went to town eventually snapping it in two. He threw the pieces in the air then proceeded to bang his head on the drums, and then he pulled some fans on stage to sing along.

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This was easily the best show of the day; thanks to Jason Meade, formerly of Houston band Sinews, for the recommendation. You can check them out The Black tonight at 8 p.m. at the Dirty Dog Bar.

Detroit's The Hard Lessons closed out Red Gorilla's Thursday showcase with some soulful pop and also taught bands the best way to get a free Austin T-shirt: Make stealing it part of your set. During the last song, the singer/guitarist climbed on the bar and ripped down a display shirt from the bar and put it on. He sweats it, he keeps it.

Lunchbox and I were headed back to the hotel when we heard a nice dance beat. We wandered into an empty bar to find Scorpio Rising, a South Austin trio that gave me more than enough reasons to make fun of them. Clad in yellow-fringe-trimmed, red jumpsuits, the duo looked like they barely made out of the '80s. The bass player looked like a Metallica fan, complete with a beard spit into two ponytails and long hair bundled into a baseball cap. The lead singer looked like she should’ve been on a baby-momma talk-show segment… but the music was pretty good. Not to mention, the bass player wins the award for best fringe placement with his strip of yellow frillies lining the seam of his crotch. And he knew how to work it as he assumed his rock stances...

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Shake it baby, shake it!

Hopefully the night lives up to the day, as I head to check out Houston acts Something Fierce, Perseph One, Nosaprise and Yppah. And national acts Del the Funky Homosapien, The Weakerthans, S-S-S-Spectres and who knows who else. (Oh and Kaki King plays at 10:50 at The Hilton Garden Inn – go see her if you haven't yet!)

-- Dusti Rhodes


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