Review: Al Yankovic Truly Keeps Austin Weird

by Dan Radin

When it comes to weird (and parodies), “Weird” Al Yankovic truly is the undisputed king.

Al entered the sold-out Bass Concert Hall with the lumbering hunch of your typical IT helpdesk technician, yet carried the poise of a world-class entertainer.  It was hard to remember the dude is pushing 70 years old; he’s continued to keep himself relevant by ripping today’s music hits with his gleeful parodies and music videos.

Weird Al Yankovic 004Al’s theatrical set was well-rehearsed and inclusive to the age-diverse audience.  Short of a Broadway production, it featured music videos, many costume changes, and playful shorts between songs. Al nailed his high notes while jumping around on stage, and flipping high-split kicks with the grace of a man a third his age.  It was impressive.

“Part of my job is to come through town every few years, and to make sure you people are keeping Austin weird,” mused Al to thunderous applause.  “And now, I’d like to sing a little song about a twine ball.”

Weird Al Yankovic 019Al mixed in deep cuts like “I Love Rocky Road” (“I Love Rock n Roll”) with “Word Crimes” (Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) to the backdrop of the lyric music video.  The songs were further augmented by 41-piece symphony Strings Attached, who opened the show with movie favorites like Indiana Jones and Star Wars, then superbly added orchestral depth to Al’s catalog – starting with the horns in Madonna spoof “Like a Surgeon.”

“OK, I know what you’re all waiting to hear… drum solo!” Tension built. The crowd was dead silent.  Then Al’s drummer paused… and hit his snare literally two times.  The audience roared in laughter.

Seated on a stool, Al took an acoustic guitar in his lap.  At each verse he lifted it like he was going to play it, took a breath, then put it down and continued into the next verse, singing only.  With each build, and Al’s picking the guitar up, the audience anticipated playing the instrument even more- but Al never actually played it.  At the song’s conclusion, he lifted the acoustic guitar by the neck high overhead, then smashed it to splinters on the stage.  Among the laughter, you could feel the Austinite musicians cringing.

The big screen behind supplemented Al’s antics.  He launched into “Tacky” (to Pharrell’s “Happy”), roaming down into the audience with a freehand camera on him that broadcast onto the big screen on stage.  He moved deep up the aisles of the auditorium, singing his parody, stretching his legs up on seat arms, waving his junk in some poor audience member’s laughing faces.

During costume changes, the projector showed a highlight reel of Weird Al’s many pop culture cameos.  One may forget how many productions the guy’s been in- mentions and guest spots in everything from 30 Rock, to The Simpsons, to Friends, to his own TV show.

Al emerged from backstage dressing the part for his biggest hits: an all-black hat and beard spectacle for “Amish Paradise”, viking horns for “Weasel Stomping Day,” Kurt Cobain/Nirvana wigs and jeans for “Smells Like Nirvana”.  The audience roared when they caught Al rolling “White and Nerdy,” rocking a full do-rag/chains/hoodie, wheeling on a full-sized Segway.  The encore showcased R2D2, dancing Stormtroopers, and Darth Vader, while Al (in Luke Skywalker robes) crooned “The Saga Begins” (Don McLean’s “American Pie”).

With his modern-day parody success, it’s hard to remember that Al’s been an icon in American comedy and pop culture for FOUR decades.  Seeing the concert hall stuffed with adoring fans of all ages, most wearing tinfoil headgear and floral print shirts, the man has clearly left his mark.

Austinites keep Austin weird; “Weird” Al keeps everywhere weird.

Check out our complete photo gallery from the show.

JLo’s Stunning ‘It’s My Party’ is One of The Top Shows of 2019

San Antonio, Texas

by Jerri StarbuckUnknown-13(photos by Michael Amico)

Surprisingly, JLO has not had many tours considering she’s one of the top selling artists (selling over 80 million albums). It’s her first tour in 6 years and perfect timing for the San Antonio tour stop -and it was a special one. Not only is it JLo’s 50th birthday in July, but the city has a large latin presence and a huge fan base.

From the start, the vibe was a complete Vegas-style party with full DJ- and all glitz and glam.  Openers World of Dance (Lopez stars and produces) dancers were absolutely phenomenal. The opening to Lopez was the DJ “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday” (50 Cent) to get everyone in the birthday party mood. Lopez descended in a tiered bling chandelier dressed in all crystal bling (and boots) singing “Medicine” with full amusement park carousel and then trombone section dancing along with her—- the choreography was flawless with dancers in precision dressed in all white.

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One of the crowd’s favorite moments was her tribute to Texas native Selena. “Whenever I get to Texas I remember the beautiful time I spent here doing the movie Selena.” Lopez sang Selena’s “Yes Once/Si Una Vez” in Spanish to great applause (Lopez’s big break came when she portrayed the famous Tejana singer who’s life was cut short by tragedy). She wore a gorgeous red gown and was suspended and appeared to be floating. The video production on the screen was breathtaking with gorgeous, sensual shots of Lopez.

She topped off this portion of the set by singing briefly with daughter Emme during “Limitless” and yes her daughter can sing and she is beautiful and looks like her. It was a sweet special moment and one of the night’s highlights. One wonders if Emme is destined to follow in her mom’s footsteps.

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The set list seamlessly tied epic hit songs like “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, “Jenny From the Block”, “If You Had My Love”, “Waiting For Tonight”, and more with newer ones. At times the show is nonstop, hit after hit, with a few built-in breathers for her costume changes. The killer finale was one of the best you’ll see all year with “Waiting For Tonight”, “Dance Again”, and “On the Floor” complete with perfectly planned 80’s throwback neon spandex bodysuits and tights (think Jane Fonda and Madonna). She came out  briefly for a one-song encore of “Dance Again” dressed as a Vegas showgirl with full feathers (a nod to her recent residency).

JLo has been a style queen forever and this show did not disappoint. There were all the big designers including Versace, Marchesa, Guess, Jebron, and others. She had a bling cane, bling mic and bling hat and water bottle. The fashion and style were a huge highlight for the show and an amazing feat by her stylist Rob Zangardi. We read there were 19 costume changes for Lopez plus 176 for the dancers and band. Bling is the theme of the night; she loves some sparkle. We read that the Swarovski crystal count tops one million including a dazzling piano and giant chandelier also blanketed in bling.

The entire production was off the charts including major pyro moments during her songs at the piano. Tons of pink smoke pyro too. There was a cool floating round stage that all the dancers and her had to time their choreography around and at other times it dropped below the stage. Other parts of the set were birthday-party focused with tons of balloons, huge life-size bday cake, and DJ party grooves – of course focused on her big 50th birthday coming July 24th.

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Lopez is known for some of the best lyrics- one of our faves -“Don’t be fooled by the rock that I got , I’m still Jenny from the block!” -got a huge crowd reaction during the set. “We had to show the children how we use to play when we were kids”! We love that she included several covers of top artists today like Drake, Sara Bareilles, David Guetta, and more, and made them her own.

JLo engaged the audience from start to finish including shaking hands, reading signs, and talking to them often. A surprise of the night was when she  brought a guy on stage on his birthday who got to sit in a chair center stage with dancing girls and yes, lap dances and then JLO surprising him from behind during hit song “If You Had My Love”, up close and personal. He had a huge grin the whole time and this will be a night he will remember the rest of his life.

Part show-stopping concert and part birthday party, Lopez also included important messages of inspiration to the crowd with words of wisdom of overcoming life’s obstacles and hard times and believing in yourself.  She proved why she is the icon she is today and one of the top shows of the year.

54518649_10157032354135768_5082691210351476736_n.jpgSET LIST

Medicine
Love Don’t Cost a Thing
Get Right

I’m Into You
Waiting for Tonight
Louboutins
Goin’ In
I’m Real / All I Have / Feelin’ So Good / Ain’t It Funny
Jenny From the Block
Baby I Love U!
Hold It Don’t Drop It
Starting Over / I’m Glad / Secretly
If You Had My Love
Until It Beats No More
Dance Interlude
Let’s Get Loud
Papi
On the Floor
Encore:
Dance Again

First Ever KAABOO Texas Music Festival Review

by Jerri Starbuck

The KAABOO brand has a great reputation in San Diego and has recently expanded into Cayman Islands and now Dallas, with a lofty goal of being all over the world.  We were first impressed by the ‘killer’ lineup with The Killers, Kid Rock, and Sting as the main headliners and a great mix of various genres and fun bands to round out the rest of the schedule.

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Local and highly successful bands from Austin and around Texas were included: Lukas Nelson’s POTR, Los Lonely Boys, Blue October, Israel Nash, and more. You can see our complete photo galleries on our site.

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One of the most popular sets of the festival was The Avett Brothers from North Carolina who have been blowing up in recent years. A very pregnant Alanis Morrisette was another very popular performance. Based on crowd size, we’d say Sting, Kid Rock, The Killers, and Black Eyed Peas were the festival favorites.

a7167d5f17dfd6ae78ec71cb2f65f354by Brooks Burris

There was music for everyone. Those wanting a little pop and EDM or country got a little taste with Little Big Town, Andy Grammar, Pitbull, and Cash Cash (although it was confusing if you had to pay extra to see the BASK DJ sets). Fans who wanted more throwback, old-school music legends from as far back as the 60’s got to see epic musicians-Yes/Jon Anderson, Eric Burden/The Animals-although those crowds were pretty sparse but made it easy for diehard fans to get up close.

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Cindy Wilson B52s

There was tons of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s music (heavily 90’s):  Sting, Joan Jett, The B52s, Counting Crows, Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd,  The English Beat, Violent Femmes, Rick Springfield, Lionel Richie, Blue October, Ludacris, Bush, Collective Soul, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Old 97s, Los Lobos, Garbage, X. 

The 2000’s represented with Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Jazz’s Trombone Shorty, The Killers (the biggest name in rock at the fest, tied with Sting).The newer band on the roster included St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Avett Brothers, Lukas Nelson & POTR, The Dip.

by Brooks Burris, Nick Paruch

The festival seemed to go off without any major glitches despite gloomy and potentially dangerous weather in Dallas. On day 3, the weather cleared and ended up being that perfect music festival sunny time that brought the biggest crowds, although competing with Mother’s Day might have been a hinderance.  The stage, lighting and sound and overall production was off the charts and one of the top highlights of the fest. The two main stages (one indoor and one outdoor) were massive. We were a bit confused as to the different ticket sections (including a $20K VIP section ticket) and we aren’t convinced that an indoor stadium and surrounding outdoor event space on asphalt is the ideal music festival experience. The biggest U.S. fests include Coachella, ACL (Austin), SXSW (Austin), Pitchfork, and Lollapalooza (plus Ultra and Electric Daisy for EDM) and most are in large greenspaces or parks.

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Lineup- We like the attempt at attracting a wide subset of the population with a variety of genres that would appeal to all ages. Future year’s might need to focus on attracting younger fans with newer artists and potentially EDM headliners as many fests have done because they attract massive crowds. Many of the great bands on this year’s lineup are use to performing for huge crowds so you could tell it was a little disappointing for them especially if they feed off the audience energy.

Although this year’s KAABOO Texas had it’s growing pains and challenges with marketing, weather, attendance, and PR, it could potentially become one of the larger festivals, especially with their proven ability to get top A-list rock bands like The Killers and Sting.  Jerry Jones signed a ten year lease with the festival so he apparently feels it’s a great investment and is totally supportive (and was in attendance).

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SXSW 2019 Festival Review and Highlights

Another SXSW has come and gone and many people are still recovering. This year we had a laser focus on the music festival and conference with some fun film screenings and reviews to round things out.  Although the weather was a bit weird and cooler this year we were lucky to not have any major storms or cancellations. Things were pretty much smooth sailing, despite the electric scooter epidemic in downtown Austin.

final-2768(David Byrne)

Overall the vibe was good, the weather was decent, and the music was incredible-with a nice focus on up-and-coming artists and not as much on A list or big name acts. There were still some big draws like Miguel at the Long Center music and meditation, David Byrne (film screening), Nathaniel Rateliff at Luck Reunion,  Joan Jett at Stubb’s, Mavis Staples, De La Soul, and also X-Ambassadors, Big Boi, and Patty Griffin at the Outdoor stage for the free lake concert.

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Here are the best things we saw for live music at SXSW this year (not in any order):

  1. Cautious Clayfinal-6265A Brooklyn kid with a soulful, deliberate voice and a multi-instrumentalist, Clay was all over the fest this year as many buzz artists typically do. He started with a really cool music and mediation event at the Long Center called Pure Golden Hour – ‘a mindful experience balanced with curated performances by Miguel, Bishop Briggs, and Cautious Clay’. He sang, played flute, and saxophone. We also caught him at Rachael Ray’s annual feedback party on the North stage at Stubb’s Amphitheater and people flocked to see his set. He was on our ‘Must See Music’ list for our SXSW preview and he fulfilled all our expectations.
  2. Angie McMahonfinal-2849.jpg

This Aussie singer-songwriter played many showcases including Rachael Ray’s Feedback party and Willie’s Luck Reunion and was one to watch on many lists prior to the fest. You know they are something special when they are included in both these exclusive events. She pokes fun at how people always assume she’s British. She got a break touring with Bon Jovi and is now getting lots of buzz after playing a Sofar Sounds set in London and being featured on Apple Music. We love her sultry deep voice and guitar chords- many songs are on the sad, contemplative side and totally relatable. Her sound that’s a little like KD Lang was influenced by classic folk/rock.  She’s not just another pretty girl with a cool guitar. She’s got something special.

3. J.S. Ondara

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JS Ondara

A young guy with an angelic and serene voice wasn’t even on our radar before we caught him at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion out in Spicewood on Willie’s ranch. Another newcomer invited to both Luck and Rachael Ray’s Feedback party, Rolling Stone magazine called Ondara ‘an artist you need to know’. He played in the chapel to an intimate crowd and people were mesmerized by his voice and his songs. Born in Nairobi he only moved to the states 6 years ago and obsessed with Bob Dylan, taught himself guitar- this kid is a rising star in the folk world. He says he is the guy playing sad songs for now. He is totally unique.

5. Yola

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British born songstress, Yola was a big buzz this year playing tons of showcases around the festival. Everyone we talked to was raving about her- she has a beautiful presence and voice singing and playing guitar. Her Dan Auerbach–produced album is “a contemporary twist on a traditional sonic tapestry of orchestral strings, fiddle, steel, and shimmering tremolo guitars”. Singing about heartache and love, she is one of the top emerging UK artists today.

6. Mavis Staples

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Miss Staples was at several SX showcases this year but her standout performance was at Luck Reunion where she headlined the all-female ‘Stronger’ stage and was backed by her amazing band. Her time-proven message of freedom and empowerment ring with a fresh relevance. Staples seemed genuinely surprised when the stage’s all female lineup joined her on stage for a soulful ensemble version of “The Weight” Staples closed her set with another unexpected guest Nathaniel Rateliff. The duo performed the blues classic “When Death Comes Creeping in Your Room” cementing Staples’ position as the crowd favorite at the Luck Reunion.  The highlight was “Freedom Highway” where she reminisced about walking in the company of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1965 Selma marches. We never wanted the set to end and Staples was by far one of the top highlights of this year’s SXSW.

7. Rachael Ray’s 12th Annual Feedback House and Party

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Mike D (Beastie Boys)
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Palm Palm

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Bleachers

Ray outdid herself this year for her annual parties. They are always much anticipated and only announced within a week or two of the event. It’s free and open to the public so fans line up early in the morning at Stubb’s BBQ to sample her amazing food, free drinks, and stellar music. This year her lineup was as eclectic as ever with our favorite sets by Bleachers, Big Boi, Mike D., Palm Palm, Cautious Clay, Angie McMahon, Billy Raffaoul, Yola, Lukas Nelson, The Cringe (Ray’s husband) and J.S. Ondara. We’re happy to hear she has signed on for another year at SXSW. The Feedback house is the low-key chill version of the Stubb’s party and is held in a small house on Caesar Chavez street with a cool vibe and intimate music performances. It covers 3 days/nights and had a great lineup with memorable sets from Jamie N Commons, Syml, and Cold Irons. See our photo highlights from the feedback party

8. Lukas Nelsonrachelray_feedback_2019-28

Austin local Nelson has had a stellar year with his music and heightened visibility with his work on the award-winning film A Star is Born. Playing several showcases such as Lucy’s Chicken, Rachael Ray, and of course his family’s Luck Reunion out at the family ranch, Nelson is really coming into his own as an artist. He often looks deep in thought and emotion as he plays. His performances are consistently entertaining and we love the stories about heartache leading to some of his biggest hits like “Georgia”. “Just Outside Austin” he says was written about Luck and the family ranch. Nelson and his band have a ball and always do big jump shots and manage to not hurt themselves. At only 30, his songs and sound are maturing and are totally relatable. He is unique, even if he does sometimes sound a little like his dad in some songs, which is awesome, he truly has is own rock n’roll sound and is becoming a great picker. We can’t wait to see what big things he does next.

9. Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters)

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Chris Shiflett

How lucky that we got to see this solo project of legendary Foo Fighter’s guitarist on a tiny stage inside the saloon at Luck Reunion. This was true rock and roll with big sound in a small space that could only fit about 50 or so. Shiflett seemed right at home as a lead singer/guitarist in his own band. He is versatile and his sound is energetic and upbeat and different from Foo. Shiflett is on tour and releases his new album ‘Hard Lessons’ this summer. Free drinks were flowing and it was one of the best sets of the day. Except for host Willie Nelson, of course. No words can describe the feeling of seeing this legend perform on his own stage on his own ranch at 85 years old. Everyone there treasures every second of it.

See our complete festival coverage and other event photos at Austin101Magazine.com

CMA Music Festival 2018 Review

by Jerri Starbuck

It was a huge week in Nashville, with record crowds and record heat, with the CMT Awards, the CMA Fest, celeb bar openings (Blake’s), concerts at the Ryman, tons of after-party shows with headliners, and another big music fest just down the road (Bonnaroo).

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Every bar and restaurant also became a CMA Fest venue that had stages for tons of showcasing musicians from around the country, getting a chance to be seen and heard. From FGL, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, John Rich, Gavin Degraw, Caleb Followill, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Dan Auerbach, downtown Nashville is a hot spot for celebrity musician’s bars and restaurants.

Over 380 artists on 11 stages from The Music Center, The Ryman, and Nissan Stadium plus tons of outdoor shows at Riverfront, Breakout, Hardrock and other stages. Huge names like Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban,  really helped sell the huge Nissan Stadium shows each night. There were tons and tons of free music to the public which was so cool. See all our CMA Fest photos on Austin 101 Magazine.

final-6849.jpgBut the fest was also a great showcase for newer or not as well-known (yet) artists such as Hunter Hayes, Wild Feathers, Lindsay Ell, Frankie Ballard, Cam, Lauren Alaina, Grainger Smith, RaeLynn. Plus many legacy country musicians like Tracey Lawrence, The Bellamy Brothers, Charley Pride, Ricky Skaggs, The Oak Ridge Boys, Little Texas, Linda Davis, LeeAnn Womack, and more. We love that there was something for everyone and every age.

 

Check out our Instagram for tons more photos.

Some of the coolest things, people, and moments we saw: Garth Brooks interview, Trisha Yearwood at HGTV, Randy Travis getting an award, John Rich dancing with fans at his bar, the just opened-Blake Shelton’s new bar-Ole Red, A Thousand HorsesMason Ramsey, Lindsay Ell, Cam, Jon Pardi, Midland, Old Dominion, LeeAnn Womack, Tracy Lawrence, Dustin Lynch, great surprise appearances from Sam Hunt, Jake Owen, Dwight Yoakam, Backstreet Boys, and tons more. We love that there were so many great Texas artists at CMA Fest representing our great state.

Best up-and-comers- RaeLynn, Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce, Cam, Maddie & Tae, Runaway June, Restless Road, Tyler Rich, Claire Dunn, Morgan Waller, Tegan Marie.

Daily shows we felt were the highlights:

Day 1- Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, Restless Heart, Lindsay Ell, Chase Bryant, Lauren Alaina, Runaway June, Nashville cast w/ Charlie Hesson, Dan and Shay, Brothers Osborne, Jason Aldean

Day 2-RaeLynn, Tyler Farr, Cam, Cadillac Three, Aaron Watson, Hunter Hayes, Grainger Smith, Tegan Marie, Wild Feathers, Lee Brice, Tyler Farr, Blake Shelton, Old Dominion, Carrie Underwood

Day 3- Tracy Lawrence, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood at HGTV, Scooter Brown band, Michael Ray, Tyler Rich, Dustin Lynch, LeeAnn Womack, Chris StapletonKeith Urban headlining at Nissan.

Day 4- High Valley, Luke Pell, Thousand Horses, Ricky Skaggs, Brett Eldridge, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, FGL, and tons of surprise appearances from Dwight Yoakum, to Randy Travis and Backstreet Boys at Nissan closing out the fest.

Bummed we missed: CMT Awards, Blake playing at his bar, Ashley McBride, Jimmie Allen, Last Bandoleros, Easton Corbin, Jaredd Niemann, Kip Moore, Jillian Jaqueline, Dillon Carmichael, Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark, Sundance Head, Joe Diffy, Song Suffragettes panel,  and more fest female artists (weren’t there- Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Margo Price, Kelly Clarkson, Reba, Dolly, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Allison Krauss, (for that matter, groups like LBT, Lady A.).

final-2218So many great musicians and legends were at the fest representing the Lone Star state (Texas) such as: Randy Travis, RaeLynn, Grainger Smith, Midland, Last Bandoleros, LeeAnn Womack, Easton Corbin, Sundance Head, Jaredd Niemann, Chase Bryant, Hudson Moore, Aaron Watson and more.

We love that the fest proceeds help enrich and sustain music education programs across the country through CMA’s nonprofit arm, the CMA Foundation and many artists donated their time.

If you weren’t in Nashville, don’t fret- watch the CMA Fest show on ABC August 8th!

 

Levitation Festival Review 2018

Diego Donamaria

Everyone rejoice! Levitation is back in the live music capital of the world after a short hiatus. This year, this iconic festival celebrated 10 awesome years of bringing internationally acclaimed musicians to downtown Austin. From humble beginnings, this festival has become a truly unique and eclectic musical experience for every attendee.

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This year, the sold out festival packed a punch with bands like Electric Wizard, Ty Segall, Dead Meadow, Ringo DeathStarr, and Ruby the Hatchet just to name a few.
Levitation 2018 was held in Austin’s Red River District in well known venues like The Mohawk, Barracuda, Empire Control Room, Cheer Up Charlies, Emo’s and Stubbs. After a quick glance at the line up, it was clear that the organizers wanted to bring the festival back in style offering a legendary line up of well known bands as well as some very awesome up-and-comers. Perhaps the one aspect I enjoyed the most about the festival is how intimate all the performances felt due to the relative smaller venue size (excluding Stubbs of course)

The psych-rock performances did not disappoint. The crowds were ready to head bang to at the Electric Wizard performance at Stubbs, to gaze in awe at the trippy visuals during Dead Meadow, and to crowd surf during Ty Segall performances at Stubbs and Barracuda.

See our full photo gallery.

Ruby the Hatchet brought her very unique energy packed performance to barracuda. Ron Gallo rocked Stubbs as well as Barracuda turning in a wild performance of original hard-hitting rock and roll. Ty Segall followed Ron and dropped his awesome mixture of loud guitar heavy tunes with powerful lyrics. Local favorites Ringo Deathstarr lit up the stage at Barracuda late Thursday with their shoe gaze revivalist musical style. It was Electric Wizard that closed the evening at Stubbs bringing their doom metal that no doubt mixes elements of stoner, sludge trails, the occult, horror, and probably a lot more.

Between the eye-popping visuals projected on the bands and walls, the awesome variety of musical performances and the great fans that attended, Levitation left us wanting more. The festival transformed the Red River district into a head banging psychedelic paradise. We are excited to see what Levitation 2019 will bring next year!

Justin Timberlake

It’s been a long time since Justin Timberlake has done a major tour (although he performed at this year’s Superbowl in Minneapolis). This tour, Man of the Woods, named after his latest album, was inspired by his family history and love of the outdoors. His band is appropriately named, the “Tennessee Kids.” Right away when taking the stage you see the tree silhouettes and floor length stage – reminiscent of a trail in the woods. final-4486

The stage was an incredible size with a main stage with the 12-person band had 2 drum sets, keyboards, brass, bongos, singers and more. The winding path then led to a circular center stage, followed by another path that led to a large stage area that would later be the campfire scene.

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Justin opens the show with his logo image shining down on him, light beams and the strong beats of “Filthy.” Shortly after, the stage is completely transformed into a dense forest through impressive projections and screens for “Midnight Summer Jam”. You can catch glimpses of forest creatures and hear forest sounds that add to the ambiance. This portion of the projections was by far the most creative and fun. This opening set included a lot of new songs but also some fan favorites like “Sexy Back,” “Suit & Tie,” and “Mirrors.”

See the complete photo gallery.

Later in the show Justin adds to the woodsy feel by recreating a campfire setting on the far end of the stage. Complete with growing grass, a live campfire and friends in flannel – this scene transports you to simpler and relaxing times. The images of the moon and stars and dancers joined with Justin playing guitar by the fire. The campfire songs included a tribute to the Santa Fe H.S. School shooting victims and survivors. He emotionally added “let them hear your voices” to his remarks. Justin poignantly donned a “Santa Fe Strong” t-shirt under his button down shirt for the rest of the show.

final-4235Other memorable Houston moments included a shout out to the Houston Rockets and an introduction of his dancer, Nicole, a Houston native. The whole crew also took a moment to share jello shots from the perfectly placed circle bar below the center part of the stage. A small floor space near the bar turned into a disco floor later in the show. Lucky (and wealthy) concert-goers could snag a bar stool at the working bar for a cool $1200 a spot. Justin pointed out to the crowd that he had this show on the 23rd, then he would watch the Houston Rockets play on the 24th, then he would be back to perform on the 25th. Which meant the stage had to be torn down and rebuilt.

A good portion of the ‘campfire set’ got a little sleepy with more ballads and a slower pace. The songs were mostly covers (John Denver, The Beatles, and more) and a chance for a little more conversation and selfies with the fans. I’m sure it was a well deserved slow down for Justin after such an action packed first half of cardio. He also needed to build up the energy for a back-to-back no-nonsense delivery of eight songs to close the show. Many of the songs in the closing set were well-known with much crowd participation. Some highlights were, “What Goes Around…Comes Around,”Say Something,” and the most magnificent “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – which was the final song.

The dancing was consistent and top-notch by both Justin and his dancers. He had 4-6 dancers dancing with him regularly. The band was incredible and Justin’s personality shown through during many parts of the performance. At one point he let out a nice belly laugh! He finished the show with a crowd on their feet and dancing! Overall a strong performance with imaginative sets, stellar projections and of course JT himself.

Setlist:
Opening Set:
1. Filthy
2. Midnight Summer Jam
3. LoveStoned
4. SexyBack
5. Man of the Woods
6. Higher Higher
7. Senorita
8. Suit & Tie
9. My Love
10. Cry Me a River
11. Mirrors
12. Drink you Away (Shot glasses appeared on stage)

Campfire Set:
13. Flannel
14. Until the End of Time
15. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
16. Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover)
17. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
18. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover)
19. Morning Light

Closing Set:
20. What Goes Around…Comes Around
21. Say Something
22. Montana
23. Summer Love
24. Rock Your Body
25. Supplies
26. Like I Love You
27. Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Review: PRIMUS co-headlining with Mastodon at Austin 360 Amphitheater

by Nick Berard

These two experimental rock, prog-metal bands have been fans of each other and makes perfect sense that they would be heading out together on tour this year as co-headliners (neither really an opening band). The tour is massive with 43 dates in U.S. and Austin and Dallas were the only Texas tour stops this time. Grammy Award-winning Mastodon opened up the show at Austin 360 amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas-delivering a straight-forward rock and roll show. In a recent interview Sanders states, “The touring is really special to us. That’s where that circle of energy is, from the stage to our fans, from our fans back to us.” 

The four member band comprised of Brann Dailor, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders. Primus formed in Atlanta, GA in 2000 and have their own distinct sound and pull from the great 80’s rock and metal influences in the best way possible. The band’s vocals are tight from every member with Troy’s vocals sounding like a bear in a coal mine. Lightning-fast guitar licks delivered by Brent are the icing on this metal cake. 

The band is cooking and the room is starting to move. It’s a solid roadshow and a great compliment to the Primus tour. Everyone is warmed up and ready!

See our full concert photo gallery

PRIMUS 

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As the sun set and the venue lights came up, a picture-perfect Texas evening gave the three original members of Primus a great place to land in Austin. Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim “Herb” Alexander had no trouble drowning out the neighboring airport performing a headlining set that sandwiched the entirety of their recent album, The Desaturating Seven in between two healthy doses of 90’s Primus. 

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Les with his signature strut and spider finger work on the bass was insane. The swirling lights, trippy video-backdrop and punchy rhythm spun the photo pit into a frenzy as the band opened with Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers, and the funky Pudding Time and threw it into high gear. Too Many puppies/Sgt Baker/ puppies reprise, American Life (with a hypnotic 2 minute Cygnus X-1 intro), and Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver featuring the 1995, insane plastic cowboy-band video streaming behind them wrapped up the first part of the set in high fashion.

The band rolls into their new LP, The Desaturating Seven, a seven- song adaptation of a children’s book, The Rainbow Goblins written by Italian author, Ul de Rico. With the nuances of a fairy tale scored with a prog-rock twist that only Primus could pull off, it was well received and absorbed by the faithful fans. Some witty stage banter from Les and a tease of Van Halen’s Panama, threw the trio into a speedy Mr. Know It All that put the pit back into motion. 

Welcome to This World was a rare live performance-a song that had been teased live for 20 years has become a staple on this tour. Then My Name Is Mud and Jerry Was a Race Car Driver wrapped up the set that kept the crowd moshing. The encore with John the Fisherman sent everyone off with a head full of Primus and a soul full of bass!

Austin metal fans got to see two of the most legendary metal bands perform together. Primus remains as fresh as ever and like an adult trip to alternative circus camp.

 

Mastodon Setlist:

Sultan’s Curse
Divinations
Crystal Skull
Ancient Kingdom
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
Ember City
Megalodon
Andromeda
Toe to Toes
Show Yourself
Precious Stones
Roots Remain
Ghost of Karelia
Mother Puncher
Steambreather

Primus Setlist:

Clown Dream

Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers

Pudding Time. Bring on the funk!  It no longer smells like burning rubber at the old raceway. 

Too Many puppies/Sgt Baker/ puppies reprise Going back to the beginning. Like a long opening bell at the stock exchange yet going to far more interesting places.

American Life  2 min(Cygnus X-1 intro).  Hypnotic.

Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver 

The Desaturating Seven:

The Valley
The Seven
The Trek
The Scheme
The Dream
The Storm
The Ends?

Mr. Know It All

Welcome to This World

My Name Is Mud

Jerry Was a Race Car Driver

Encore:

Is It Luck?

John the Fisherman

SXSW 2018 Music Festival Review

SXSW 2018 Music Festival Review by Alyssa Quiles

Another year is in the bag for SXSW and I’ve got to say it was pretty interesting. The festival lived up to its purpose once again, allowing up and coming bands to show off their skills and for people to new music discover music. As always, there were some huge A-list performers too (Keith Urban, Common, T.I., Nathaniel Rateliff) but far less than recent years. Overall it was a safe and more manageable SXSW this year. All genres were included and that’s pretty cool.Shakey-Graves-2018-0312-012

Just a few of the main events and showcases this year were: Sony Lost In Music, Fader Fort, Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party & Feedback House, Waterloo Records, Whole Food’s Southwest Invasion, SXSW Outdoor Stage, KGSR W Hotel, NPR, Stub Hub, Capitol One at Antone’s, Twix house, Lost Weekend, FloodFest, Bud Light, Pandora, Hype Hotel, Bud Light, Culture Collide, Empire Control Room, along with the ACC stages: International Day Stage and Radio Day Stage. See the full party lineups here. This year was the first without a SPIN Magazine presence (they usually have the biggest showcase at Stubb’s).

The week started of with a kick-off party at the Main and the Main II, with Superchunk, Bad Gyal, Pussy Riot, Lali Puna, Starcrawler and more.

Andrew WK - Waterloo 2018 5Andrew W.K performed a few times at a few venues during the week giving a very energized and positive performance each time. While he was punching the air and giving us probably one of the most passionate performances I have seen, audiences danced and sang along, at one point even starting a mosh pit in the middle of the crowd at Waterloo Records.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats gave the crowd an amazing performance at the SXSW Outdoor Stage. With beautiful melodies and lyrics, and the city skyline behind them, they took control of the stage and made it theirs. They were the perfect end to a great day of music.

Dashboard Confessional had one of the larger crowds I saw at the festival, standing in the back, the experience was more enjoyable since I didn’t have to worry about if my eardrums were going pop from how loud the speakers were. They had an amazing set, giving throwing it back with some old tunes and giving us a couple of newer ones.

Rainey Street hosted an assortment of showcases from Twix House of Duos to StubHub Culture Collide and M&M’s showcase. Surrounded by mega hotels- the just opened Fairmont and the VanZandt, tall apartment buildings and new construction projects, Rainey has dramatically changed in just a few short years. The once run-down area near the convention center still allowed show goers to feel like they were in a private alcove of music and fun.

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Bishop Briggs

The Radio Day Stage and International Day Stage showed off some of the best music from around the country and the world. It’s always one of our most recommended showcases each year. Artists such as Nikki Lane, La Fragua Band, Lali Puna, Gato Presto, Lola Marsh, The Shacks, lovelytheband, Lo Moon, Melat, and so much more. Provided by popular radio stations like KCRW (L.A.) and KUTX (Austin), listeners were able to experience all types of genres in a single day in a comfortable environment at the Austin Convention Center.

In the Market Place there was the Flatstock music stage where you could sit down, relax and enjoy some music while recharging your phone and yourself until you were ready to take on the festival once more. Flatstock stage featured artists such as Bifannah, C-Kan, Luna Lee, Terra Lightfoot, machina among others.

Not only were there a ton of shows, there were plenty of keynote speakers and sessions as well with many professionals in the music industry. Linda Perry and Kerry Brown discussed the future of artist development. Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, talked with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic and writer of Marvel’s Black Panther comic book, discussing politics and pop culture. Music keynote speaker Lyor Cohen talked about the changes he has seen in the industry and how the changes in the world and YouTube, streaming and offered inspiring words for those who want to succeed in the music business.

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Caitlyn Smith

One of the big showcases we were most looking forward to was the Bud Light The Roots and Ludacris  at Fair Market which was canceled last-minute due a bomb threat by a local teen (who was since arrested).

Highlights: There were thousands of bands and showcases. If we had to choose (but we can’t), here are our favorites of the week: Matt Bellamy’s Dr. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band & The Stroke’s Albert Hammond Jr. at Rachael Ray Feedback Party, Sony Lost in Music, HAIM at Bumble’s party, Flo-Rida, Kurt Vile, Margo Price, Common, August Greene & Tinashe at Vevo’s party, Lukas Nelson, Caitlyn Smith, Old Crow Medicine Show, All of Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (semi-sxsw), Nikki Lane, Lynyrd Skynyrd (film red carpet), Jerry Williams, Matt & Kim, Pussy Riot, Tank & the Bangas, Shakey Graves, Dashboard Confessional, Bishop Briggs, Keith Urban, Cam.

Shows we’re bummed we missed: Khalid, BONES, Sons of Illustrious Father,  Acid Dad, Bad Pony, Natalie Prass, Jade Bird, Japandroids, Todd Rundgren, Sunflower Bean, The Roots, Blackilac, Max Richter, Shamir, Speedy Ortiz, Sylvan Esso, Say Anything, Porches, Willow Smith, Cloves, Wycleaf Jean (we heard he played guitar with his teeth!).

See all our 25+ posts and galleries from this year here. You can also search by SXSW.

This year was an amazing year at SXSW. There was plenty to do for everyone and so many shows to see, we can’t wait to see what next year brings us. Overall, the fact that it was a safe SXSW (despite a serial bomber in town) was truly the most important thing and we hope that trend continues.