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ALTWorld: Round 2

The kids are alright and have showcases

By Margaret Moser, 2:13PM, Mon. May. 4, 2009

Edison Chair's Martin Aker, Wes Armstrong, and Nathan Thrash
Edison Chair's Martin Aker, Wes Armstrong, and Nathan Thrash

The U18 movement in Austin got a boost yesterday with ALTWorld’s second workshop at Jovita’s. ALTWorld, the teen division of Roggie Baer Elm’s booking agency RajiWorld, does more than just provide a showcase for young bands to play. It puts them face-to-face with people in the industry. I sat at a table with web designer/photographer Mark Alba, guitarist Billy Harvey, and bassist Harmoni Kelley as we critiqued seven acts that performed 20-minute sets, then joined us at the table for one-on-one discussion.

“We’re an alt-funk band. We’re 12 years old.” The trio of preteens known as South of Center had written me a note a few weeks ago, lobbying for a slot in Next Up. Though their set was more alt than funk (the cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” was a nice touch), the confident vocals, popping bass, and hint of jungle drums should cultivate nicely.

Euphoria was the winner of Austin High School’s Battle of the Bands the night before and eased in with a dreamy instrumental. The quartet didn’t dwell too much on the jam aspect of that genre, keeping with tighter arrangements. They ought to be double-billing with Chief Rival.

This was the fourth time I’ve seen Team Next, rappers with shifting personnel but usually headed by Youngun and T.A. They brought along Antonio and the three rapped through “J Walkin’” and other crowd-pleasers. Over the last six months, they’ve developed an old-school rap look, with fades and chains, and their lyrics reflect their broadening world.

Edison Chair, a trio from Dripping Springs, is a most likely candidate for jumping straight into the 21+ crowd. Their wonderfully exuberant indie-mod-pop sound is anchored by strong vocals and memorable originals that sound radio-ready. Sound like hype? RajiWorld already plucked them for their stable of talent.

The Fireants are getting much press these days, thanks to their dynamic roots-rock sound. Fresh from winning Best Teen Band at the Austin Music Awards and a star slot at Old Settler’s Fest, the quintet is embarking on a busy summer. There wasn’t much I could say to them because they are ahead of the curve. I just have to keep picking up my jaw.

No reason the Carson Brock Group shouldn’t have a slot in Antone’s upcoming July anniversary. The power-blues trio can rip through the Cream arrangement of “Crossroads” like no one’s business and throw down their own beautifully written compositions. Lotta good genes in this band.

Café Racers made an impressive debut. The high school quartet skews very close to indie-pop with an electronic undertone, one of the most distinctive sounds I heard that day. Their sound is driven by Brandon Mays’ keyboards, he of the local electronica duo Claptrack, and balanced by fine vocals.

ALTWorld showcases continue Sundays through the summer at Jovita’s. Workshops are held on the first Sunday of the month.

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