Thursday, April 16, 2009

Austin City (No) Limits

I have gladly worn my love for Austin, TX on my sleeve for years now after being introduced to this fine city by my wife several years ago via the Austin City Limits Music Festival.Every time I breach the brim of Austin's perimeter, a slow symphony of swirling notes and phrases runs through my mind like a roaring river, spilling over and flooding the banks of my brain with rock, blues, punk and country music. Soon enough I drown in sound. The motto is "Keep Austin Weird" and I couldn't agree more. Any and every musician could walk away from Austin feeling like they had finally made their pilgrimage required by The Man Holding the Fender Strat Upstairs, faithful and fulfilled.

This visit was no different. Bang Camaro rolled in to Austin on Wednesday for the second time on this tour to play at Emo's, a legendary venue on Red River Street, down in the thick of it all in the Sixth Street area. The arrival was much different from a visual checkpoint than on March 20th, when the streets were swelling with vans, trailers and restless rockers in the midst of SXSW. But the energy was no different for me...I just fucking love Austin. Get me out of the van, please!

Emo's is a sprawling, gritty punky club with a semi open air feel as half of the "outside" part of the venue has bleachers and port-o-potties and because of this, a large hacky sack circle was forming after load in. Hacky sack is not just for hippies anymore as members clammer for position in anticipation of the hack. Several of the people of Bang Camaro and Electric Six possess unbelievable hack control, foot tricks and pedi-prowess and it has become our sport of choice in the daylight hours. Imagine the sight of 12 grungy men forming a hack circle in a rest stop parking lot in Podunk, OK or Anywhere, TX. It has happened. We crawl out of the clown van like hungover clowns unable to find a circus, so we make our own.

The gig that night was the best on the tour so far. A full house of fist pumping Texans, the best monitor mix known to musical men, a stage covered in carpet with a tomato pattern on it, and the strongest choir we've had. The monitors were so good, I could hear what I sang before I sang it. Alex, Bryn and Doz brought everything they had to the front of the stage and the gaggles of gamers and wide eyed Texans were frothing with metal delight. Electric Six joined us for Push, Push (Lady Lightening)and the choir was 12 plus deep.

We have become such big fans of Electric Six on this tour. never have I encountered such a great group of musicians so laid back, conversational.and eager to please..and their live show leaves us dazed and amazed every time. Dick Valentine is a frontman for the ages. Dick weaves a hypnotic mix of crowd control,sarcasm, and commandment of the dance every night. Every frontman in this band has learned from him...we thank you Electric Six. We will part with you soon...but I'm so glad I've made new friends of you.

We headed to Denton, TX the next day after picking up the boys in Leslie and choir member Nick Given. We now have 15 people in our van. Picture that....15 men in a 15 passenger van. Odiferous, precious....priceless. No real evolution of the male species, just sweat, road food and dick jokes X 15.

Denton was another shocker of a show. The club has a "private member" policy where every person who enters must have their license scanned and sign paperwork. This made the line out of the door at the Boiler Room move like Texas Molasses. I had a revelation watching the opening band The House Harkonnen. This band is one of the best hard rock bands I've ever seen...nuff said. Pure loudness, brain slicing power chords, punishingly dark angelic vocals, twin leads and bass that made Mr. Richter proud. It was my pleasure sitting out front and having the tinnitus take me over.
Our show blazed glory again and we made new friends, signed new shirts and watched Electric Six for the last time on this tour. We will miss stop..Amarillo.


  1. Hacky sack made up the majority of my college life. Unfortunately after graduation I really never had a circle again. Damn I miss those days...

  2. Sounds like Austin was great. Since I am reading this in reverse order, Amarillo must have been a huge let down after Austin.

    I have a friend who named his son Austin after the Man Holding the Fender Strat Upstairs.