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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hello It's Me

While sitting at my computer last night, editing some more of When We Were the Kids, Darryl Smyers called and asked, "What are you doing right now?" Since editing can be done at any time, on any day, and clothing is always optional, I took up his offer to see Todd Rundgren play at the House of Blues.

The thing was, the show was due to start in thirty minutes.

Hauling ass down to the venue, I was there in ten minutes. There was no opening act, the place wasn't packed, and apparently the show was over two hours in length. Since I don't know Todd's stuff as well as Darryl does, I was happy he reviewed the show instead of me.

During the first two songs, I thought I was going to watch a two-hour train wreck. Todd was sick and his voice was shot. I already knew his voice wasn't the same from his classic records as a solo artist in the seventies. But I wasn't expecting it to be like Shane MacGowan's mixed with Robert Palmer's.

Probably thanks to medicine, water, and a willingness to perform, things eased up after a few more songs. Playing all kinds of stuff from his back catalog, he even threw in a Robert Johnson number and a few soul songs. He did what he wanted to, even if his immune system couldn't keep up.

Definitely a good show overall, but it could have been a disaster.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Runnin' with the Devil

I don't hate marathons, and I don't mind when they happen in my neighborhood. Plenty of advance warning goes out before all of them, so it's not like they are a surprise. But one marathon thinks having live bands in residential areas inspires runners. So, after two years of putting up with loud cover bands on a Sunday morning, I decided to write about how I experienced this year's Rock 'N' Roll Marathon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sooner or Later

This year, I will attend four weddings, and hopefully no funerals. These four weddings involve people I have known for at least eight years, and all of the grooms are people who seemed the least likeliest to get married. Not a fear of love or relationships in general, just a fear of the institution that is marriage. Save us from the ball and chain, indeed.

None of these guys are rushing into marriage. Each one has been with their respective partners for at least two years. And thankfully for me as the friend, I like all of their future wives. So, no end of the friendship because of choosing a polarizing spouse.

I'm sure at some point in the past they've said, "I'm never getting married." I will not confirm or deny that I've said the same, but it's not like people lie when they say that. When they see a lot of dysfunctional relationships over the years, of course that leaves a negative impression. The thinking usually is, Why should I be miserable with someone when I can miserable by myself?

My attitude is, we all want to love and be love. The harder you fight that, the harder life is. A bottle of Jameson isn't going fulfill the void left by a lost love. That bottle could certainly pass the time, but sitting at home pouting isn't going help either.

So I look forward to celebrating my friends' nuptials. I won't lie that I love to cut a rug on the dance floor. And I choose to leave my options open if the possibility presents itself in the future. Better to live life with unlocked doors that doors that are sealed shut.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My first show

This week's edition is with Sara Radle, formerly of Lucy Loves Schroeder and the Rentals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Feast or Famine

I recently had the chance to talk with Chuck Ragan about the Revival Tour and the next Hot Water Music record, Exister. It's a very long chat and I'm borderline fanboy-ish, but Chuck is an incredible person to talk with.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Exister



Grieving is something that comes and goes. I get that. Flashes of things falling apart, and the accompanying sadness, are not enjoyable, especially when you don't know where you're going next. Events from last year keep popping into my head, and I wonder when can I move onto the next part of my life.

As I've called them before, there are slow days where any forward progress seems unattainable. Yet I still make plans to do things I know will be fun, like seeing old friends and meeting new people. Why? Because I know they're worth doing. Even it's just getting out of the house, it's worth it.

This past weekend was packed with enjoyable times. And it started with a phone call from a friend who was stranded at DFW Airport and needed a ride to SXSW. Since I was going on Friday morning, the same morning he hoped to arrive, he stayed on my couch and we left early. The whole day was spent with the members of Braid and their road crew. I had not seen these guys in at least five years, and there was a lot of catch-up.

Braid and Hot Water Music played at Red 7 for the Shirts for a Cure day party. Both bands played incredibly well, and I was very happy to see the show. Afterwards, I met Dave Smalley, vocalist for many great bands, including Dag Nasty. Since my interview with him for Post was done over e-mail, I never had the experience of actually talking to him. It was a great talk, and he remembered me and the book.

Driving back home that evening, I knew I had a long day of the St. Patrick's Day parade in the morning and a party that afternoon. As fun as Austin is during SXSW, my body can go into system overload after a while. Hence the drive back. The parade was fantastic, as was the party. And Sunday was spent playing golf in cloudy weather.

I needed a weekend like this, because it helped clear my head about the good things in life. And the good things coming in the future.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My first show

This week's edition is with Matt Armstrong, a former University Park resident who moved to Indiana and joined a little band called Murder By Death.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Arrows to the Action

Lately, a topic has come up quite a bit in conversations: how you think you're "done" with something you've made. You wrote that book X-amount years ago, you made that record X-amount of years ago, you made that movie X-amount of years ago, and the like. The creator might think there is a point when he or she is finished discussing, analyzing, and recalling. Alas, the treasure chest is never permanently closed, because new people are coming across it.

In the topic of post-hardcore/emo, I'm always up for talking with people who were truly moved by it in the '90s. I have yet to be "done" with the topic, and it may follow me around for many years, but I don't mind.

I had known about Washed Up Emo as blog for a few years, but I didn't find out about its podcast until last week, thanks to this mention. Now it's a podcast I subscribe to because it's worth a listen.

When I saw bands like the Promise Ring and Burning Airlines, there were plenty of other people around me at the shows. When I wrote Post, I wondered where many of those people were, in terms of speaking about the power of that music. Seems we all moved on to other pastures, but the impact left a major mark, even if you were grooving to Tapes N Tapes and the Cold War Kids.

Conversing with people who fondly remember Knapsack, Samiam, and Jawbox is not an everyday occurrence, so when it does happen, it's exciting. You don't hear people talking about Save Ferris or Cherry Poppin' Daddies these days. So, I might have another book coming out this year, but I don't mind talking about the topic found in my first.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Wouldn't Believe It

I haven't done one in a while, but the topic was too good to pass up. Today's "Ask the A.V. Club" column is on worst pop-culture dates. As in, bad experiences on a date to a show, movie, etc. In my own life, I have one that sticks out prominently. Since I didn't want to bring it up in my original review, I figured it would be funny now to share about how I was ditched at a Get Up Kids show.

For the most part, the Get Up Kids sing about break-ups, whether it's with someone you love or someone you work with. The music (and passion behind it) were why Four Minute Mile, the Red Letter Day EP, and Something to Write Home About were fixtures in my CD player throughout college. I still enjoy the material and I try to catch them when they come to town.

A couple weeks before their first trip back after reuniting, a friend of mine hit me up on Facebook. She's someone I crushed on for a while, but she was sorting out the remains of a collapsed relationship. We'd run into each other here and there, but I hadn't heard from her in a while. So it was a surprise to see a message from her, asking if she could tag along to the Get Up Kids' show.

I picked her up at her place, and something didn't seem right. She was all dolled up in make-up and perfume, in a style not that far removed from what you see on Toddlers & Tiaras. This is a punk rock/indie show, where something like this is rare. You could dress like you just woke up and fit perfectly in. Alas, we had a good time talking about small things and big things in life, and we both enjoyed the Kids, Youth Group, and Pretty & Nice. Things were, for the most part, successful and enjoyable, until the end of the show.

As we walked out to the lobby, she approached a member of Pretty & Nice and started talking to him. She convinced the band to stay at her apartment, as well as her next door neighbor's. Thinking she was being nice to some guys who weren't going to put "the moves" on her or her neighbor (because, judging by their mannerisms and lisps, I figured they were all homosexual), I didn't mind that she wanted to do this. Yet she wanted to go back to my car, get the poster she bought earlier in the night, and be dropped off in the front of the venue.

Driving up the street, she got a call from the band member, said she be right there, referred to me as her friend, gave me a hug, and got out of the car. I haven't spoken to her since.

Of course this was a shitty experience. Two months later, I started dating a wonderful woman. We were together for twenty months, filled with many, many great moments until the last couple of months. Receiving the break-up letter before I saw Mission of Burma, I had a hard time concentrating (maybe it's obvious in my review?). But I don't regret going through the pain because it helped me re-evaluate the great things in life, in the shadow of the truly terrible.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My first show

This week's edition is with Todd and Jeff from Crushed Stars. I disagree with Todd's impression of the Mark Kozelek show. If he was talking about the show at the Gypsy Tea Room, Koz called out a guy talking on his cell phone during the set. That was it in terms of addressing something. The guy was embarrassed and apologized on Koz's site a couple days later.

I met Koz after the show and he was very friendly. I mentioned how my birthday was the following day and he said, "Happy birthday, man."

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Unleashed

I love my dog Victory, and that's why I put her on a leash when we go outside. I want her to run around without a leash in a backyard someday. Until then, for as long as I live in this house, she's on a leash whenever we go for a walk or need a potty break.

Frustratingly, a lot of people in my neighborhood let their dogs roam free. Thinking a stern vocal warning will deter their dogs from doing bad things, a leash is presumably not needed. To which I laugh.

My upstairs neighbors have a very small dog and a big dog and they are rarely leashed. Luckily, both have been rigorously trained and are very obedient. Unfortunately, there are not many other owners like them around here.

Victory is not aware of cars and the possible damage one can do to her. The few times she's run out, she paid no mind to the cars nearby. That worries me, so the leash is always on her, and I am very strict with her when she even considers running out the front door.

Thankfully, we've never been attacked by a big dog, but we did have a run-in with a puppy beagle last week. Matter of fact, this puppy had the same color scheme as Victory's. It was a cute sight until the dog jumped on Victory's back and tried to bite. The pup's owners stepped in and we walked on.

Almost always, when walking away from a situation like that, I hear a limp apology. Given my uppity nature on this, I storm off without acknowledging. The damage and potential damage has been done, and no apology can really fix it.

Maybe I love my dog too much or maybe I'm too uptight, but for as long as I'm a dog owner, I'll have a leash around.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Small worlds are colliding

I've been told that I know "everybody" in the Dallas music scene. The truth is, I don't. I know a lot of people who play music, but not everyone. I quipped on Twitter last week that my old editor Pete knows everyone in the scene, and he wrote back, "I wish. Actually, maybe I don't."

There are plenty of reasons why a scene is a "small world" sort of situation. Take the number of people who live in an area, divide that number by 65 percent (to factor those who play music), then divide by 15 percent (to factor those who play non-mainstream music) and you have what people call a scene.

A big factor in the dividing comes from musical taste. You can find one Converge fan in a crowd of ten Dave Matthews Band fans. This makes people stand out, and if that person is a good, reliable person, then you remember the person and look forward to running in him or her in the future.

The degrees of separation whittle down when you know people who know a ton of other people. Last week's edition of My First Show came from this. I knew Somebody's Darling was headlining Dada, so I hit up my friend Beau (who DJs, plays music, and has a lot of friends) to see if he knew any member of the band. Turns out, he did and I contacted their guitarist. That led to contacting their singer. Keeping tabs and in touch via Facebook and Twitter, the scene gets smaller.

Of course, there is plenty of flow with people coming into the scene and those who check out. Some move out of town, others move in. Some give up playing for a while to raise a family, and some return a few years later.

So, yes, there are many people I know through going to shows, reviewing shows, hanging out, and interviewing people. I don't have a goal of knowing everyone, but I don't usually turn down a chance to meet new people.