photo of Christian Braafladt taken/defaced by beth samsLi'l Cap'n Travis
Continental Club, November 14, 2003

If you had seen me early Saturday night, I would have tooted a horn with my mouth, ass and nose about the band Li'l Cap'n Travis. I had not seen these guys in a long time but had been following their progress through press, videos and show dates. I was really into one of the videos, “Alone at the Drugstore,” being playing by the Austin Music Network, mostly because I used to work at a drugstore in Dimmitt, Texas where guitar player Christian Braafladt and I went to high school. I wanted to know if any of the vintage footage in their videos featured his family. I was hyped about seeing my old friend and seeing how the band had evolved since I saw them many years ago at the Electric Lounge where Christian had dedicated the song about Amarillo, Texas to me.

As soon as the band began to set up, I ran to the stage to find my friend with a beautiful new black guitar and not more than 4 words to say to me. No hug, no “How you doing?” Like an idiot, I gave him five Texas Rollergirl guitar picks I’d been hoarding for his band. Feeling more like a turned-down groupie than a friend who had chosen to do this review to support one of the few people who made it out of Dimmit, I took a few photos and returned to the back to sit by doormaster Rob Gasper who sang the praises of Li'l Cap'n Travis. I have never heard Rob say a word about any band, and he was even singing along with each song—a huge compliment in my opinion.

the sexy red drums of mandan mallony previously of wookieLi'l Cap'n Travis had indeed improved and honed their music into quite a tight set. I was pleased to hear the country Pink Floyd-style of their videos was still present in their live show. The steel guitar did add a little more of the country flavor than I want in a night, but everything sounded great. It was a lively set with a lot more organization than once before. If I had not been brewing in the sulk of rejection, I would have stayed afterwards to sing the praises of all the great press I‘d read and the distinct style this band has developed. I was secretly proud of them but my wounded pride made me leave around 1:40 a.m. I was also secretly in love with the red glitter drums of Mandon Malloney.

If you are into country or experimental music, I think you will be pleased as punch to see Li'l Cap'n Travis. They definitely flung their training wheels to the stage side long ago. You can learn more about these fellows at www.lilcapntravis.com, but if my friend did indeed snub me, I take back all the nice things I said.

–Beth Sams

Austin Music Hall, November 14, 2003

It was indeed a packed house at the Austin Music Hall for what is always one of the best metal shows you can possibly see. Slayer has been around since 1982 and has stood strong and true to what their original vision for what this band has always been about from the beginning. No selling out here, just pure unadulterated chaos. Too bad Metallica didn’t follow their path we may have had a another three or four legendary albums instead of the watered down corporate bullshit that they insist is a progression in their sound but what true metal fans consider a complete regression from what that band said it would never do. Maybe that’s why Slayer fans are among some of the most loyal and among other things, the craziest bunch of motherfuckers you can possibly get under one roof. It’s almost like spectators should have to pay two admission prices, one for the band and one to watch the craziness that goes on during a Slayer show. If you happen to be amongst the crowd you pretty much better be prepared at some point and time to push someone away from you and watch your back or get trampled by flying fists and bodies bouncing off of one another in the most severe mosh pit you’ve probably always heard about but were afraid to ask. All this and Satan!!!

When Slayer comes to town and I’m asked the question “who’s opening?” it’s always followed by “GO FUCK YOURSELF!! WHO CARES, IT”S FUCKING SLAYER!!” and that was pretty much my attitude for this show as well. I arrived just in time to get in and catch Slayer just as they were going on. What I got was one of the better Slayer shows I have seen, especially because they didn’t play a lot of new material. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new shit but tonight was all about classic Slayer and some tunes that I thought I would never hear them play again. They played an impressive hour and twenty-minute set without leaving much time for silly “This next song’s about EVIL” banter that Tom Araya is infamous for. Yeah it’s funny and goes with the whole spirit of a Slayer show but at some point – or, let’s say after 20 plus years - it becomes quite boring. It was all about business this show. They played material from almost every record and what really blew me away was hearing classics such as “Fight Till Death”, “Hell Awaits” and “Necrophiliac”. However, the coolest part of the evening was what they ended the set with. Not just one or two songs but by playing the entire “Reign in Blood” album from start to finish. Truly an amazing set and still to this day one of the heaviest bands you’ll ever see or hear. I ended the evening by saying this to one of my friends after the show when they asked what I thought and I replied with “It was a blasphemy, was it a blast for you?”

– Slander Bob

Thursday/Thrice/Coheed and Cambria
Stubbs BBQ, Sat. Nov. 8, 2003

Stubbs was a haven for minors Saturday evening. The beer line was short during the entire show and I personally felt like I’d done some growing up since 1999 when I fell in love with screamo bands like recent Island/DefJam signees Thursday.

Coheed and Cambria opened the show with a short and tired set. I’m not sure how long these guys have been on tour, but it definitely showed through lead-singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez’s failing vocals. These guy’s first record, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, was a witty blend of pop-sensible emo-hooks that captured Sanchez’s Getty Lee-esque wails and moans formulating the storybook-like lyrics based on the comic book of the same name created by the band before achieving musical success. Their new record In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, however, isn’t nearly as creative and seems washed out with the same kiddy-rock that your little sister knows and loves so much. These guys’ set included three songs from their first album and the remainder from their new, sub-par recording. The Austin Chronicle called this band “a new wave of progressive emo, younger cousins to the more adventurous Mars Volta.’’. Well, that is just a flat-out lie and insulting to say the least.

Thrice, the So-Cal emo-metal four-piece took the stage next and rocked louder and tighter than any band on the bill that evening. Riding the success from their new Island release The Artist in the Ambulance, Thrice combine technical time changes with fluid guitar licks and melodic breakdowns that could be embraced by Iron Maiden and Converge fans alike. Their brand of hardcore was accepted at Stubbs with a fist pumping mayhem that gave way to more than a few moshpits. Lead vocalist Dustin Kensrue was able to swiftly switch from his punk-driven harmonizations to the throat-wrenching yells that have come to define many young bands today. Thrice, however, keep their sound complex and precise without losing the emotion and heartache worn on the sleeves of the teenagers in attendance at all their shows.

Thursday took the stage last and the kiddos went ape shit. Lead singer/screamer Geoff Rickly swung his mic like a helicopter threatening to crash into the sea of youngsters pushing and pulling in the front row in hopes of touching the petite, skinny frame of the black-shirted emo star. His voice, cracked and jaded at times, sounds similar to a young Robert Smith in the studio, but seldomly holds up during the hectic and physical live set. Overall, Thursday put on a show that was energetic and heartfelt—the band ripped through songs from the new and much anticipated War All The Time along with a handful of songs from 2001’s Full Collapse. What made this band so great in the past though was the crippled sense of passion and intellect primitively interjected into the hardcore skeleton left behind by seminal bands like At the Drive-In. Now, this particular genre of music has simply become wildly popular and therefore the artists slowly lose that creative luster and charm (and sign to a major). Thursday are not a terrible band, but their sound just isn’t fresh anymore—the music falls into the mesh of every Johnny-come-lately punk band that sing with tissues nearby and scream a catchy hook. One of the last songs of the set, Five Stories Falling, concluded with large confetti cannons being shot into the crowd. I glared disappointedly at this atrocity and knew that the ride for me was over.


deftones photos by Jonathan McPhailDeftones
Austin Music Hall, November 6, 2003

Sac-town’s finest returned to Austin Thursday evening and proved that there is at least one significant “nu-metal’’ act remaining from the slew of sub-par bands that began bursting through the airwaves during the mid to late nineties. Deftones are currently touring and enjoying the success of their self-titled, fourth full-length release on Maverick Records.

The Music Hall was jam-packed for the No-Cal five-piece whom have kept it real through a stark and defining brand of moody metal, notably accented by the whimpering coos, spit-fire flows and lofty throat of front-man Chino Moreno. When the lights went down, the backdrop of the stage beamed bright with a crimson red glare that contrasted perfectly with the band members’ silhouettes. That initial guitar shred and kick-drum sent a soothing wisp of air and noise through the jubilant crowd—the sound was deafening, uniform and full. The band opened with Minerva, the first single from the new album and went on to play several tracks from their first two records Adrenaline and Around the Fur respectively. Highlights included Mr. Moreno dipping into the crowd during the spastic hook of Hexagram, the opening track from the new album in which Chino pleas for listeners to “…worship-play-play-worship-play-worship-play-play-worship.’’

deftones photos by Jonathan McPhailHis sequenced harmony coupled with the repeated alarming yells where something easily done in a studio, but for him to pull off the same vocal structure live was a persuasive point proven by this determined vocalist. The light sequence throughout the show was overwhelming--during Knife Party, an obvious ode to heroine-use from the last album White Pony, Chino stood still at front and center stage like a spider resting in a web of vicious illumination and paralyzing white noise. About midway through the set, lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter began to play the well-known intro-riff to Bored, the band’s very first song from the first record. However, his timing was slightly off and Chino made a wisecrack about Carpenter having smoked some really good shit before the show! They still pulled off the song and the crowd was none-the-less appreciative. The band also covered Duran Duran’s The Chauffeur, a refreshing break from the bedlam of the rest of the set and ended up closing the show with an encore of Change (In The House Of Flies), the monumental single from the White Pony record that really pushed the band into the mainstream.

Mainstream or not, Deftones did not disappoint and will not compromise their art for a label or the radio. This is the only respectable rock band left with a DJ and a front man that raps, screams and sings with his trousers hanging halfway off his ass.


The Ugly Beats/Malavista
Carousel Lounge, October 18th

Cameron Road's singular stage-less carnival bar has been rebuilding their live music rep with weekend bills consisting of bands that have made the junior varsity cut down at the Continental Club. Six years ago, both places showcased the rising tide of local surf and lounge bands, which happened to coincide with Sixth Street's last gasp of gloriously filthy punk rock dives. Then, the Carousel slipped back into neighborhood happy hour coma, but today Sally the geriatric cocktail waitress is back on her feet and ready for Saturday nite action.

Stepping to the beat of West Texas punks in Malavista would have been cause for concern, however. Sally left the solo slam dancing to a lone mohawked punk whose performance didn't inspire surrounding spectators to even get up. Not exactly the rowdy reception that punks are used to when they play Austin, but the applause kept growing with each song until eventually the whole room was won over. Thankfully, they stayed away from pedestrian pop-punk and hardcore and played simple straight-forward punk rock songs about skating, drinking and givin' the finger to the man! Malavista temporarily bridged the gap between wide-eyed punks at the show and low-brow bohemians as their small group of fans stayed, got drunk and got down before the pink elephant with the rest of us during the Ugly Beats.

After several lineup changes, the suit-and-tie surf rockers formerly known as the Sir Finks, made their return to the Carousel playing fun and melodic frat rock. Jason is the only original member of the band that began as a trio and has expanded in the past few years to include guitar playing front man Too Tall Joe and Dance Machine Jeannine on keys. The addition of ex-Shakewell, Jake, on backup vocals, lead and rhythm guitar has solidified their transformation into the Ugly Beats. While I really liked the toughened up Ramones-by-way-of-Ray-Davies riffs, what I was the most impressed with was the relaxed three- and four-part harmonizing that permeated their set. They still throw in some instrumentals, but this is a band that has matured and is still evolving into something much more than just another surf band.

–Dave Roybal

Young Heart Attack, Rockland Eagles, The Action Is
Hole in the Wall, Fri. Nov. 7, 2003

The attitude Friday night at the Hole in the Wall was nothing if not badass. It was leather weather and the retro fashions hearkened back to the glory days of Arena Rock, that era snugly nestled between the death of psychedelia and the commercialization of punk rock. And, looking at the banks of Marshall half-stacks sprawling across the stage, it seems Arena Rock is the goal, courtesy of Young Heart Attack.

In typical rock star time keeping, YHA took the stage nearly an hour and a half after scheduled, using the time to schmooze and drink. Then they took to the stage – and the floor in front of the riser – like a stampede of bull elephants, riffing like the house band at an Armageddon party. The overall sound screamed 70’s; Frenchie Smith whirled and cavorted like a deranged Ric Nielson, while the token chick beat her tambourine to a pulp and wailed her tribute to both Grace Slick and Exene, more than establishing her place in the band. And the singer/guitar player. How does such a mighty voice issue from such a diminutive frame? (I’d love to give you names, but the website was blank when I went to it.)
The Rockland Eagles, as always, rocked despite some sound difficulty.

Closing out the night was The Action Is, formerly Hot Wheels, Jr. until a cease and desist order arrived from Mattel. Again with the riffs! Adding a second guitar player has definitely helped flesh out Action’s sound, making them even more a tour-de-force in rock and roll than they had been previously. Oh, how the ears pounded happily after the set.

A crunchy guitar freak’s wet dream was the overriding theme of the night. Nobody left with dry pants.

–Trevor Wallace


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