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K-NACK Reunion, Night 1

Live review of K-NACK's reunion concert Friday

By Michael Toland, 2:41PM, Mon. Jan. 30, 2012

K-NACK Reunion, Night 1

I can’t recall if I listened to K-NACK when it was on in the early 1990s. I must have. Any station playing Sugar and the Replacements was my kinda airwaves, and main jock “Raydog” Seggern’s support of local music is still tops. That period, however, coincided with my disgust of commercial radio, so I may have tuned it out alongside KGSR, KLBJ, etc.

Thus it was less the K-NACK connection that attracted me to the ND on Friday and Saturday nights for what was billed as a 20th anniversary reunion than it was the lineup of local talent. The number of folks at the club with K-NACK badges made it feel like crashing a convention, but the reunited Austin acts booked for the weekend basically summed up my listening from those bad ol’ days.

First up was the long-defunct Seed, or half of them, at least. Stripped of both rhythm section and alt.radio-friendly production, singer/songwriters Chad Salls and Gabriel Ordonez revealed a fondness for Jellyfish that had been previously buried, all flower-power melody and lyrics. Ling standards “Doe” and “Kids... This is Fabulon” sounded a lot less bombastic in this context. Seed never got much respect, either at home or elsewhere, but a good pop tune is a good pop tune, and with “Rapture” Salls and Ordonez have one of those. Don’t carry a torch for further gigs, though – Ordonez constantly mentioned playing the songs “one last time.”

Bo Bud Greene was up next. I remember seeing the name a lot back in Ye Olden Thymes, but I don’t remember ever actually hearing their music. Given how generic the group's noisy alt.rock was, I might have heard the material a million times and nothing stuck. No loss to these ears. The crowd sure seemed to dig ‘em, though.

I saw Sincola many times in the 1990s, and faithfully bought their CDs and singles. I missed reunion gigs last year, so this was a real treat for me. The old interpersonal tension was still there, if more of a running gag than an actual problem, and the band’s spiky post-punk pop is still as weird as it is catchy. The quintet seemed like they might fall apart any second, but that’s not to say they were sloppy. Even if they had been, it was still a thrill to hear “Hey Artemis” and “Bitch” exploding off a stage again.

Night one closed out with Sixteen Deluxe, who’ve been doing sporadic gigs since releasing the demos/live collection Year One last spring. It showed in the quartet’s tight performance – they sounded like they’d never stopped. I bought 16D’s albums when they came out, but as their set unfolded I realized I hadn't seen them live during their first life. God knows why. Sometimes laziness overcame my good sense back then.

Which is why I’m grateful for the opportunity to see them now. This kind of psychedelic shoegazer squall is nearly always better on stage than on an album, and Friday was no exception. Accompanied by a shifting, filmed backdrop, 16D built up wave upon wave of distorted melody, letting it crash against the crowd with maximum impact.

Frenchie Smith used his Jazzmaster more as a pedal controller than as an instrument, even throwing in a few unselfconscious guitar hero moves. Carrie Clark was the eye of the storm, her steady voice matter-of-factly cutting through the fuzz despite being a moderate instrument. Kudos to whoever was mixing. It was pretty spectacular.

I’m sorry I didn’t see Sixteen Deluxe in its heyday, but I’m glad they’re still around to blow me away now.

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