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Hello From Waveland / The Swells
Hole in the Wall, Sun. Nov. 16th

It was the first of the now monthly Free for All at the Hole in the Wall, and, unfortunately, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s at Emo’s had an obvious effect on the size of the crowd. The bar was nowhere near capacity, but those in attendance were given a treat in the form of Seattle’s Hello From Waveland. A four piece utilizing standard gtr/gtr/bss/drm set-up (with an obligatory synth thrown in for good measure), HFW tore through a set of quirky pop tunes, narrowly skirting cliché and sailing the tasteful edge of indie rock. Live, they come off somewhere between the whimsy of the Soft Boys and the spastic bite of the late, lamented Brainiac. Plus, these guys brought along a $3, 4-song tour-only CD e.p., giving the newly converted an affordable souvenir and leaving this writer enough money to drink whiskey like they were about to stop distilling it. I didn’t feel a thing when I wiped out on my bike on the way home. Groovy.

The Swells were the only other band on the bill (Paul Minor suffered a death in the family and, therefore, Superego were persona non grata), and, while the crowd definitely enjoyed HFW, it was readily apparent whom they were here to see. The Swells were most assuredly good, but after the attack of HFW (complete with invented Hole in the Wall stories, some less fantastic than true Hole stories), the twangy Strokes impression rendered by the local boys came off as simply contrived and flat.

-Trevor Wallace

Gibby Haynes and His ProblemGibby Haynes and His Problem
Backroom 11/22/03

The stage was set: the screens were hung, Gibbytronix sat center stage waiting to loop and churn. The scene was like the calm before a Surfers show, all these inanimate concert fittings that somehow come alive when the Texas terror takes the stage.
When Gibby and His Problem took the stage there was a melodrama. Like pretendika: it smells good and all the crystals and hairs are there, but the bud packs no punch.

So Gibby has a new rock band. The confusion was that it came packaged as a Buttholes show. (And it looked good like a Buttholes show.) The music was more like the later rock songs of the Butthole’s from Electric Larryland. Or the ambient spaces that the Weird Revolution CD gave us. It was quintessential Austin rock. No envelope to lick or even press.

The line up was two guitars, drums and Gibby. Occasionally, Nathan Calhoun would pick up a bass and lock solid into the twin iMac computer-generated beats. I think the computer music made the music seem artificial, as if we were listening to drafts of what Gibby did at home to teach the band later. There was certainly no lack of professionalism here.

A repeating loop ran throughout the whole set saying, “I need some help”. There were songs which rocked Roky Erickson style with the Gibby croon in full effect. Most of the set had the thump of an AC/DC 4/4-rock beat, which really left Gibby and his voice to do the original stuff. The vocals tended to be more on the balladeer side of singing. A particular Pink Floyd styled jam with nice organ fills stuck way out of the set. Other stuff compelled me to write “Midnight Oil rock” in my show notes.

I left feeling great that I saw Gibby sing, but let down by the music’s overall regularity.
The show raised the question: Would I have stayed if it wasn’t Gibby singing? Or better yet, would I throw a beer bottle at it if it were Ian Moore up there?

-Kevin Stack

Alkaline Trio/Reggie and the Full Effect
La Zona Rosa
November 20th

Reggie and the Full Effect serves up a musical monstrosity of cheap, choppy crap to disenchanted youths. I only wish I had arrived forty-five minutes later, so as not to be annihilated by this fiendish group of musical miscreants. Not only did these diabolical demons sound terrible, but they also looked twenty times as bad as they sounded, if that is even possible. Oh, you missed this show? Well, just imagine someone you never want to see in bikini underwear running around the stage covered in blood, sporting devil horns, and yes, in bikini underwear. Everyone I know was screaming to be released from this brazen inferno.

Alkaline Trio fully made up for having to sit through what seemed like an eternity of frightfully appalling tunes by executing an array of extremely exemplary, moving songs. Lead singer Matt Skiba sings as if his lungs and his head are going to explode with utter emotional brutality and spew out into the crowd, drowning them in a villainous nightmare of hidden sentimentality. The best part of their performance, the song “Queen of Pain,” really illustrates the existence of this band. This band makes a song with the lyrics, “Like vampire bats deprived of blood into the New York City night we crawl” seem romantic. Yet, some how these guys pull it off with a peculiar characteristics that are all their own. They blend dark, gothic imagery with fun-loving harmonies. Alkaline Trio produces an energetic sound mingled with emotional trauma and furnishes the audience with an ironic blend of the tragic and jubilant. And yes, sometimes it even conjures up bizarre romantic compassion and suicidal tendencies.

–Misty Sweet

The Sons of Hercules/The Ugly Beats
Casino El Camino Anniversary Party
November 26th

So how did some guys from upstate New York end up running the coolest bar on Sixth Street for the past nine years? Aside from the deliciously exclusive Canadian beer (meant to be consumed ice-cold), they’ve piled up numerous Chronicle Best-of Awards for jukebox, bartenders and food. It’s decorated like county fair hell ride—witness the revamped “Diablo Room” and the imposing gargoyle fountain on the patio. The two big screen televisions are usually free of sports, mostly featuring blood, guts, pussy and sometimes even Joe Lifto. Its not everywhere you can get your drink poured by the guy who you just watched pick up a keg with his dong on the Travel Channel.

The Boom Chica Boom girls kept the patio warmed up in the cool, still air, shaking their tail feathers during both bands’ sets. I was disappointed that Jeannine was sick and wouldn’t be heating it up herself on keys with the Ugly Beats. I can dig their take on sixties flavored garage-pop. It’s loaded with catchy riffs and punctuated by sudden attention-grabbing changes. I made my move for the bathroom late in their set and missed Lifto and Zack stretching to new lows. Back inside it was steadily filling to capacity and soon there would be no re-entering for the duration.

With the addition of the man himself on bass for the past six years, Casino El Camino has become the official headquarters of the Sons of Hercules. They bull-rushed the drunk and flatulent crowd with a cover of the Skunks’ infamous “Gimme Some” and kept the pace up playing what was apparently Heavy Metal Dave’s theme song, “Used To Be Cool,” followed by the tough chugging sing-along “Too Late.” The melodic style of the two newly debuted songs reflected the Sons’ evolution with John Felice accolade, Dave Bone, playing guitar. They kept the encore short and sweet, and I left looking forward to another year of gambling my wits at Austin’s one and only Casino El Camino.

–Dave Roybal

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