Artists: Golden Dawn Arkestra / Annabelle Chairlegs / Dallas Acid / The Sun Machine
Venue: Mohawk (outside)
Location: Austin, Texas
Date: 27 February 2016
Event: Stargazer Record Release Party (second night)
Golden Dawn Arkestra, obviously, are my favorite band from Austin. Their debut EP was released in 2014, and ever since I first saw them, I've been eagerly awaiting a full-length album. When they finally announced a release party for such an album, I immediately bought a ticket. They actually played two shows, but I only went to the second one, as the lineup seemed more up my alley.
First up was The Sun Machine, a six-piece band from Austin with a garage feel. There were hints of surf guitar, something akin to spooky camp, sunny 60s pop or classic rock, and just a touch of psychedelia. The two guitars and keyboard did battle to occupy space, and the keyboard consistently lost. However, the presence of an extra percussionist really added to the groove and helped the drummer always bring a good beat. I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be funny, creepy, or serious, but it seemed like it rocked more than they'd intended. Or maybe their studio work is just tamer than their live show.
[The Sun Machine.]
Dallas Acid is actually from Austin. They are a trio of two men sitting behind Moog synthesizers and a woman drummer/vocalist. Their music fits into the Kosmische/cosmic tradition in that the beat is minimal, the vocals are sparse, the approach is anything but aggressive, and the sound is astral or pastoral. As if to prove their debt to early Kraftwerk, their music was accompanied by a projection of what appeared to be a German BMW promo video from the 70s. Actually, though, I thought their music was better suited to some philosophical sci-fi movie (i.e. 2001 or Stalker) than an automotive exposition! They played a very serene, peaceful set that seemed a bit at odds with the other bands on the bill, and although the audience chattered through some of it, they were still fairly respectful and give them quite a bit of applause when they walked off stage with the synthesizers still going.
Annabelle Chairlegs is another Austin band, seemingly quite young but rising fast. They had traces of groovy 60s psych and aggressive 90s alternative that blended well. The lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist was good, and the drummer somehow was able to regularly and effortlessly supply great harmony parts in just the right spots. The lead guitarist played with sublime taste; he offered a wonderful variety of effects and style and somehow managed to never be overwhelming. He even played a little slide solo on the last song that came off just right without seeming contrived. The band had a consistently good energy throughout their set.
Golden Dawn Arkestra started with their regular trick of emerging from the back of the venue, wandering through the crowd while dancing, playing horns and percussion, and blowing incense, and gradually making their way to the stage. They launched into a set consisting mostly of long, groovy versions of songs from their new album, Stargazer. This time, I counted fourteen members on stage, plus an older man that danced in place just off stage or on the stairwell.
[Golden Dawn Arkestra.]
As always, their sound is full, and yet the instruments are not difficult to distinguish, and the members tend to trade instruments and positions with ease. There was again quite of a bit of dancing, reminders to take care of Mother Earth, and various pseudo-mystical rituals. This time, in addition to the usual psychedelic funk, there were a couple more ponderous, spacier segments, although they didn't last long. It was also the first time I noticed a baritone sax, a flute, and various percussion instruments, although I may have just had the advantage of perhaps the best spot in the house. I also noticed more of the members, including the dancers, joining in the singing. I seem to always enjoy this band, but by a narrow margin, this may have been the best I've seen of them yet.
[The encore finale.]
The Sun Machine: B-
Dallas Acid: C
Annabelle Chairlegs: B+
Golden Dawn Arkestra: A