Monday, November 11, 2013

FFF Fest 2013, Day 2: Late Night Show at the North Door

After spending all day at the main festival at Auditorium Shores (see my earlier post), I got on my bike and headed to the North Door for one of the festival's free after-party shows. It ended up being quite a late night.

Event: Fun Fun Fun Fest, Day 2, Late Night Show
Venue: The North Door
Location: Austin, Texas
Date: 9 November 2013

Introduction: Somehow FFF is able to sponsor free shows all over downtown after the main festival wraps up. There were fourteen options on Saturday. I still can hardly believe it. Not knowing exactly how it worked, I wanted to make sure my venue of choice didn't fill up before I got there, and I decided against hopping from venue to venue. It turns out I was one of the first people to arrive and the show started even later than planned, so I had nothing to fear. In the future, I would consider not just sticking to one place, but that might take more planning than I had done.

First up were Saint Rich, an indie rock duo augmented by three extra musicians on stage. At first I thought they seemed very young, and I favorably compared them to Echo & the Bunnymen in 1980: not really because of sound or style, but rather because of their confidence and composure in the face of unknowing, unwitting listeners. They seemed like they knew what they were doing, like they were older than their years. And it turns out that this kind of makes sense. Although this band is quite new and they just released their first album a month ago, both primary members are also veterans of Delicate Steve, whom I know best as the band described by the most hilarious press release ever. (Seriously, read it. It is glorious. NPR did a great write-up of it.)

Unlike Delicate Steve, Saint Rich are not an instrumental band. In fact, Saint Rich don't sound all that similar to Delicate Steve at all. I can't decide which I like better. Delicate Steve have the wider, richer sound palette, and the allure of almost breaking uncovered ground, but Saint Rich are catchier, and for what it's worth the music industry seems to prefer vocals. Thankfully, Saint Rich have both good lyrics and a good singer, so it wouldn't surprise me if they actually end up going farther in the end. It helps that the musicianship is solid, too. I bought their CD and talked to the singer after the show.

Hunters: I can't find any information about this band. I'm not sure if their name has a definite article. They aren't even the only punk band with that name. The band I saw featured a flailing, very high-energy frontwoman and a male guitarist with great (i.e. big and wild) hair. He sang a few lines, too. I appreciated their intensity, but I couldn't understand a word of the lead singer's lyrics, and their thrashing about got a bit monotonous.

Bleached: Yes, I saw them twice in the same day. They played a similar set to their afternoon performance, but perhaps somewhat shorter. They mentioned playing two covers, but I only recognized the same Damned cover as before. They also had some mic problems; they kept asking the soundperson to raise their vocals and it seemed like they never got what they wanted. I had a hard time hearing their vocals, and it didn't help that they had some feedback problems as well. They still played just as well as before and somehow they still had a lot of energy. This time around, though, I felt like they were leaning far closer to punk rock than the more conventional rock I remembered from the afternoon. I don't know if it was just the environment, or maybe the preceding and succeeding bands, but something made me feel like they were punkier than before.

I was going to leave at that point due to exhaustion, but I started talking to another audience member, and then The Men were soundchecking, so I stayed for most of their set. Honestly, I probably should have just left when I meant to – I wouldn't have missed anything. Despite that they feature two guitarists, a bassist, and a pedal steel player, I could hardly distinguish anything except for the snare drum and some shouted yelps. There was no texture, no nuance, just a wall of distortion. How boring! I must have missed something, because this is apparently a popular band. Maybe they're better on record, but their live performance offered nothing to me. (Of course, their astoundingly creative name makes searching for their music online a breeze. And it's not like anyone else thought of that name first.) How any reviewer could call them "post-punk" is beyond me.

Scores:
Saint Rich: A
Hunters: C
Bleached: B-
The Men: D
Overall: B-

Final Thoughts: I probably should have just left after Saint Rich and found a different venue.

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