! = recommended
* = all-ages
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For a good many years, I’ve had a recurring dream that I’m visiting my native New Jersey but, due to myriad circumstances, am unable to leave. On one such, er, imaginary excursion, I wandered into a record store and, much to my surprise, heard the “new” Capillaries album playing overhead. When I sought to buy a copy, the clerk informed me that I could procure it either in CD format or, if I were so inclined, I could experience it by drinking a bubblegum-flavored soda. One needn’t be all that familiar with The Capillaries to understand why my subconscious might make that association.
The Caps hadn’t performed live for several years - the last time I saw them was in June 2008 when they graciously shared the stage for the farewell show of my comrades Edisyn. Suffice to say I was delighted when I learned they’d be playing this past Saturday at The Mix along with Can You Imagine? and Wormburner.
Though the lineup has changed over the years, The Capillaries are the brainchild of Matt Southworth. On this night, he was joined by Aaron Huffman of Harvey Danger fame on bass and one of my favorite drummers (and people) Mr. Aaron Brown.
Even though they are few and far between, every once in a while a band with lasting power comes out of nowhere. The Black Angels is certainly one of them. At this point, they have been around long enough to release three LPs while continuing to steadily grow in popularity, but they still seem like a recent discovery. The group was just here in November, but that didn’t stop fans from filling up the Showbox for their appearance. From the moment that they climbed aboard the stage on Tuesday evening, Austin’s best psychedelic entourage had the audience in a drugged out trance.
Amidst a black and white backdrop and heavy strobe lights, The Black Angels were captivating no matter what substances anybody was under the influence of. Their first record, the Velvet Underground meets Thirteenth Floor Elevators meets Spacemen 3 masterpiece, Passover, was well represented in the setlist. The filthy, droning “The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven” sounded as good as ever and the immortal dirge “Black Grease,” with its angry, loosely anti-war “kill kill kill kill” refrain was moving. Singer, Alex Maas, was pouring himself into this one, as always.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart played a sold-out show to promote new album Belong at The Crocodile last Friday, with many of the Imaginary crowd eagerly in attendance. Offering a welcome retreat from the Sakura-Con crowds, the show also heralded in the spring concert season that I have long been anticipating.
This was not a concert to thrash about to, and at times it seemed more fitting to be cross-legged under a willow tree with a hot cuppa (Do POBPAH sell thermoses or teasets? I sense a niche in the merch stand!) than shuffling to-and-fro amid the humid belly of The Crocodile. The music of POBPAH is cardigan-clad, awkward, and unapologetically poppy - but who cares? This love is fucking right.
It never fails to sadden me when I attend the concert of a well-established artist and the venue is nearly empty.
Peter Kember, aka Sonic Boom/Spectrum/Experimental Audio Research (EAR) stepped onto the stage at Chop Suey on Thursday night, and if my estimate was high, there were maybe one hundred people in attendance.
Kember was one of the founding members of the brilliant Spacemen 3, a group that combined garage rock and drugged out trippy auras like none other. The other core member of the band, Jason Pierce, went on to form the highly successful Spiritualized, while Kember’s later efforts have remained obscure at best. This said, the shockingly under-attended Spectrum show was incredible, with a sound remaining true to Spacemen 3’s original vision. Spectrum’s ever challenging music continues to impress, making the often bloated Spiritualized sound like the Kingston Trio.
Most Wire fans agree that their first three albums are excellent recordings that still sound as vibrant and challenging today as they were upon their initial release approximately thirty years ago.
Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 are all timeless classics in their own right and each successive LP was vastly different from the previous one, making them that much more impressive. Interestingly, Wire fans tend to have wildly fluctuating opinions about their subsequent output. Personally, I quite like the 1980s albums too, but have not exposed myself nor been exposed to any of their records after that period. Last Wednesday evening (April 13), Wire took the stage at Neumos and offered a retrospective of their entire career, which provided the audience with a sampling of each decade’s evolution through music.
Photo by: Amy Bernard