Live in Austin, Texas
Aching for ATX All roads have been leading to Austin, Texas, for Arts DEVO lately. During the spring, favorite sons Explosions in the Sky blew the roof off my head during a show down in Oakland at the Fox Theater, and in recent weeks I’ve been coloring my summer with jams from the deliriously fun Pile, the latest from one of the city’s better recent exports, A Giant Dog. And just last week, I spent a few days in the in the sweaty, electric, conductive city itself. I’d been to and through Texas many times, but this was my first visit to the state’s capital, there with a few members of the N&R family for AAN 2016 (the annual conference for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia) and to devour as much of the city’s bounty as possible.
And, yes!, the city does live up to its nickname as the live musical capital of the world. Much as has been the case for its kindred city of beards, Portland, Ore., skyrocketing rents and home prices in recent years have squeezed hipsters out of the neighborhoods where their fun places to eat, drink and play are located. But as Austin Chronicle music writer Kevin Curtin wrote in a year-end column last December, and as I observed during my few nights there, venues (and bands, and restaurants, and bars) are sticking it out and “the promise of Austin as a place to play music, remain a slacker, and never get bored survives and thrives.”
Ours was a ridiculous three-night stand of live music that kicked off with Austin honky-tonk fave Dale Watson alongside Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson charming the pants off the room at Stubb’s BBQ. The next night was Jimmie Vaughan and band at the legendary (and recently relocated) Antone’s. We closed out the weekend with the rhythmic badassery of local experimenters Marriage (possibly their last show?) and a very lively set by Brazil psych-rockers Boogarins at Hotel Vegas. Thanks to some thoughtful long-distance advice from former Austinite and current Chico Natural Foods front-end manager Alissa Ziemianski and the tireless guidance of an Austin Chronicle intern Tucker Whatley, who stuck with our crew for two very long nights of fun, we also ate the tastiest meats and drank in some of the best dives and hip hangouts in Austin’s East Sixth Street district.
As for the famed Dirty Sixth, the main drag of nightspots along Sixth Street, we steered clear other than to pass through. Sure, the streets are closed down for several blocks on weekend nights, and there’s live music pouring out of dozens of clubs for what amounts to one giant street party, but there were just as many DJs pumping out crappy club music as there were live acts, and every band I stopped to hear was playing tired wedding-reception rock. Kind of like Chico, as a college town, Austin has a bro-centric party rep that the nondouches and locals have to live down, and thankfully we had friends to lead the way to the real Austin.
Phantom of the Pageant The latest Pageant Theatre Late Show will feature Brian De Palma’s twisted and fun 1974 musical horror/comedy, Phantom of the Paradise, plus a preshow of early 1970s music videos. Saturday, July 16, 11 p.m.
Le chat lady Local illustrator, mom and one-time CN&R contributor MaryRose Lovgren has just released a A Cat’s Guide to Paris, a “travel guide to the City of Light for adventurous felines,” and is celebrating with a book-release party this Friday, July 15, 3-5 p.m., at Great Northern Coffee.