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Built to Spill/The Delusions/Solace Brothers
Stubb’s BBQ, October 17, 2003

The faint whupping-sound of the unseen helicopters overhead lent an ominous air to an otherwise pleasant evening. The unsuspecting crowd, not suffering from the same acute paranoia as some of us, carried on obliviously, buying beer and t-shirts, consuming in the manner they have been brainwashed into by years of MTV and exposure to their parent’s version of the American Dream.

The opening bands were fairly unassuming but amusing, serving simply (as many opening acts do) as a backdrop for mass marijuana abuse by the students of our fine university. Good for them. Screw the Man now; go to work for Him after graduation. As the mind-altering smoke hovered above the crowd like melancholy shades left over from the last Sonic Youth show, Built to Spill wandered onstage and began their deluge of atmospheric angst pop, much to the delight of the swelling young crowd. Despite the absence of any kind of real melody or hooks of any kind, the kids knew every word. These young people are smart—the money their parents provide is obviously being well spent.

The band was loud and well practiced. Each song was predictable from start to finish. Why deviate from the record when you can stay safe and have a sing-along? An entertaining evening to be sure, but the envelope stayed put, safely unmolested and snow white on its comfortable spot on the shelf. –Trevor Wallace

(P.S. Due to some miscommunication, there was some confusion regarding press passes at both Built to Spill and the Reverend. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Chris, the head of security at Stubb’s, for being so cool and accommodating to both myself and photographer J. McPhail.)

 

Hole in the Wall
The Rock and Roll Free For All
The last 10 years

It’s the end of an era. Sort of. Again.

For the better part of a decade, Sunday night was synonymous with the Rock and Roll Free For All at the Hole in the Wall. No longer was there a huge hole in an otherwise music-filled week here in the Live Music Capitol of the World. The brain child of Electric Lounge employees Paul Minor and John Knodel, it was Minor who brought the idea to local legend Debbie Rombach, then the Sunday night bartender and sometime booker at the Hole in the Wall. In the first couple of weeks, Minor brought in Beaver Nelson, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Kevin Carroll, Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo to jam, and, after seeing the attendance on what was once a dead night, Rombach agreed to let Minor host until he and his ever-revolving band, Superego, got tired of doing it.

And the rest, as cliché dictates, is history. Some amazing shows took place on beer-soaked Sunday nights at that little bar on the Drag. Sixteen Deluxe, Spoon, The Damnations TX, Trail of Dead, Magneto, El Flaco and Lil’ Cap’n Travis all packed the house, making the roof wobble, the walls rattle, and the floor shake. Monday morning hangover be damned. And, lest ye forget, this was the Hole in the Wall. Think clownish bartenders on copious amounts of alcohol. And all for gratis. The “free” in Free For All is a double entendre.

But, as with any long-standing institution, there were hurdles. After about seven years of going full steam, Minor began to suffer from, as he puts it, “partially classic burnout, some of which was due to the late-night business aspect.” So, Superego went on hiatus and handed the reins over to Telray. With the exit of Superego, some of the energy that accompanied their enthusiastic jukebox-like quality was lost and the nights often became interminable. (No offense to Telray. It just wasn’t the same.) Then Superego came back, and not long after, the Hole in the Wall shut down.

The Free For All enjoyed a brief sojourn at Beerland, but when the Hole in the Wall reopened, Minor was there, booking a straight two weeks of music by veterans of the old bar. And the Free For All was once again re-established, this time running from 8-midnight (though it rarely ended on time). This time around has seen loungy piano sets from both Fastball’s Tony Scalzo and the Damnation’s Amy Boone, numerous guest appearances, including Matt Hubbard and Miles Zuniga, and once again, Superego reigned supreme on Sunday nights.

Enter new Hole in the Wall management, stage left. Feeling that the bar is spending too much money on live music when they have a jukebox that serves the same purpose (at least in their minds), the powers-that-be have pulled the plug on live music at the bar Sunday through Tuesday. Meaning, sorry Paul, we’re crippling your show.

It’s understandable from a business standpoint—some of the band tabs got pretty outrageous, and, as a new business, they have to feel out their clientele. Just the same, the bone Minor was offered as appeasement is one Sunday a month. Not enough say some, but Minor has taken what he has and worked with it. The next installment is November 18th with the Swells and Seattle’s Hello From Waveland. That oughtta bring in more money than the jukebox.

Are three less hung over Mondays a month worth the loss of an institution? Not if Paul Minor has anything to say about it. –Trevor Wallace.

 

Agave
Games and Theory
Fri Oct 24, 2003

Joseph Patlan’s torso and throat exist as the architectural foundation for a revitalized precision in harmony and volume. When his mouth opens, a crippled sense of emotion joins forces with an abrasive chaos that can no longer remain dormant at his lips. Games and Theory are simply brooding right now—their brand of hardcore music aesthetically dances between angst and atrophy with a perfect and necessary seriousness. The four piece combine technical changes that can mutilate and caress with a digital swiftness that never becomes methodical. Keep your eyes peeled and your earplugs handy kiddos. Games and Theory are grave, solemn and anxious. -Smitty


Rasputina
Stubb’s BBQ, October 27, 2003

I saw a band called Rasputina at Stubb's BBQ last night, and it was pretty cool. Rasputina is a three-piece band from New York City consisting of two women playing cellos and a male drummer. The band has an amazing sound live. Amplified cellos are as close to aural ecstasy as you can get, in my opinion. The bottom end is truly a somatic experience. The band as a whole has a rich full sound. The two adept cellists wove detailed tapestries of sound with melodies and harmonies.

Rasputina played about eight originals, mostly songs about people coming apart at the seams, as lead singer Melora Creager said that night, and three cover songs all dating from the 70s—Heart’s “Barracuda,” Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll,” and Creedence Clearwater Revival's “Bad Moon Rising.” Rasputina’s version of “Bad Moon Rising” was the best rendition, besides CCR’s, that I have ever heard.

Rasputina slowed it down as they did the other two covers. The rhythm had a good swaying groove to it and was kinda funky, in a way. John Fogerty’s words of warning fit right nicely into Rasputina’s lyrical canon, making the song seem like their own. The large and appreciative crowd was made up of Goth-types, complete with guys in skirts, medieval-themed women, and lots of black. The cellists, Creager and Zoe Keating, also were dressed in medieval style outfits and lookin’ fine. Umm hmm.

The bad part of the night was that it had to end, I could’ve stayed and listened to ‘Tina’s body-vibrating music all night. –James E

 

Indofin
Rock Stars, Wed Oct 22, 2003

T.J. told me that he ate a healthy portion of mushrooms before the show Wednesday night at Rock Stars, a new live music venue located in the middle of frat boy central on Sixth Street. He says that their music always sounds better when he’s tripping. With an ear-to-ear grin, I would have to agree with the part-time lead vox/rhythm guitar player, part-time pizza guy and full time stoner punk who sings with more soul than most Red River rats can shake a stick at. Indofin is a six-piece ska band who dynamically fuse elements of dub, hip-hop, punk and reggae into a heart-felt package that you might as well label ‘Fuck You If You’re Not Feeling Us.’

Sure, right away most kiddos will write these dudes off as Sublime sound-alikes. I’ve heard it more than a few times at the shows and around town. Well, I’m not here to extinguish that as hearsay or even call it a bullshit statement. I will however gladly fuel the fire of those opinions by stating that the spirit of the former Long Beach three piece of punk fuck-ups, the same ruffians that pummeled the planet during the early 90’s with eerie affection and a passionate disposition for their music, lives through this particular group of musicians in 2003. Indofin could care less about what anyone thinks. They live for their own music and hope that others can somehow relate. I can.

TJ, a former death metal drummer and self-taught vocalist and guitar player, does sound like Bradley when he hits the high notes. The purity of his pipes carry a force and a vitality that is tender, but never reluctant. Justin, the flow master and energetic emcee of the group always keeps the party moving with stage antics that include dancing and leaping around his band mates or trying to pick fights by taunting TJ while he’s trying play. In the past, this has lead to several dog-piles, scattered blood and of course a series of laughs and crowd applause, whom are often trying to figure out if the fights and verbal lashings are serious. Donny, whose drums always seem to need more mics than the band can afford, is one of the most laid-back kids I’ve ever met. He’s always mellow, always stoned and lives for surfing and playing. Mike is the DJ. His precision-cuts and sound manipulations keep a hip-hop vibe, but definitely stand behind the sonic succinctness of Eric’s finesse lead guitar licks and the spastic bass playing of Albert, a short, timid Taiwanese kid whose nickname is TweakinAsian.

As the mushrooms kicked in and the beers kept coming courtesy of their biggest fans, Indofin kept rockin’ in their normal feel-good fashion. They played songs like Boozer Holiday, the highly rotated video on Austin Music Network that highlights the ups and downs of consumption, Mid-day Morning, a bittersweet ode to the current state of affairs in the band’s rock-at-all-cost life style and Rule Of Thumb, a shout-out to fellow friends and rockers in the local scene. To the crowd’s delight, the band also performed their own punked-out version of the Ronette’s classic Be My Little Baby and covered the Misfits’ Where Eagles Dare.

The show was great—we all smoked-out afterwards and TJ even had some extra fungi—yippeee! Indofin are a fun-loving group of punker sluts who represent music of extreme moral worth or value—and that, my fellow critics, is the dictionary definition of the word sublime. -Smitty

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