PAST RECOMMENDED SHOWS:
12/19/15 @ Hole in the WallDebbie Does 60
Debbie Rombach’s heart beats in time with the Hole in the Wall, where she spent a quarter-century as a bartender, booker, and eventual owner – helping transform the once-folkie Drag dive into a rock & roll hotbed. Austin’s alternative rock heyday thus returns to toast Rombach’s health. Saturday’s nine-act party unites lovably obscene punk futurists Pocket Fishrmen, dork-rock boy band Peenbeets, sonic pop gang Wannabes, and Paul Minor’s HITW staple free-for-all Superego, but the biggest candle-blowing gust comes from Joe Doerr and Bill Anderson reuniting proto-grunge mentalists Hand of Glory.
05/29/15 @ Hole in the WallChepo-Rama
Cancer survivor in the making, longtime local punk MVP Chepo Peña enjoys another love-in/benefit wherein fellow music faithful gather to raise money for the energetic bassist currently undergoing chemo. A mouthwatering lineup of Nineties all-stars/oddballs reclaims the Drag-bound landmark as ground zero for the scene. The 10-band affair (8:30pm-2am) unearths the Peenbeets, Fivehead, Inhalants, Wannabes, and Powder Snatch, a partial reunion by fem punks Power Snatch. The main attraction will be a rare performance by erstwhile indie rock breakouts Sincola, for whom the guest of honor thumped.
01/24/15 @ The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.Brentmas: Reivers, Wannabes
SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke wore many hats. As Chronicle Music editor, sound man, road manager, and co-producer of authoritative 1985 compilation Bands on the Block, he was an astute-yet-affable architect of Austin’s latter-day musical prominence. Grulke died of cardiac arrest following oral surgery in 2012 at age 51, but friends still celebrate his Jan. 25 birthday, which the man himself coined “Brentmas.” This year’s edition features the soaring Southern pop strains of the Reivers, beery bar light salvation from the Wannabes, SuperEtte’s sneering indie triangulation, and Bruce Salmon’s old country folk/blues hybrid. Free, 7:45pm.
01/25/14 @ Carousel LoungeA Brentmas Celebration
Brent Grulke was born Jan. 25, 1961, a date he jokingly dubbed “Brentmas.” SXSW’s creative director died of a heart attack in 2012, but his legacy as an unwaveringly enthusiastic music fan and connoisseur of Guinness-infused fellowship ensures Brentmas’ continuance. Reunited Lawrence, Kan., post-punk inciters the Pedaljets and veteran local lager-pop contrarians the Wannabes headline this year’s observance. Veronica Mars faves the Rite Flyers and Stickpony foal Austerity Measures bolster the hosanna chorus along with debuting Doctors’ Mob/Reivers/Dharma Bums amalgam My Luck.
08/09/13 @ Carousel LoungeWannabes
“If you’re not dead by August,” proclaimed the Wannabes on 1990’s Lucky Pierre, “you’re not dead.” A bumper sticker-worthy encapsulation of life in this slow furnace still resonates nearly three decades later as lake levels drop and Lost Pines burns. Recognized with a mayoral edict proclaiming “Wannabes Day” in 2011, the local quartet remains a genuine Austin institution. Even though their prescient “Don’t Move Here” T-shirts failed spectacularly, their well-crafted barroom pop anthems remain the perfect analgesic for wistful yearnings of all stripes.
02/22/13 @ The North DoorCher U.K., Wannabes
Bar rock/tabs extraordinaire.
09/08/12 @ ACL Live at the Moody TheaterGrulkefest
See that tattoo of the horse encircled by flames on the Grulkefest poster? I watched as my late ex-husband Rollo Banks applied it to the late Brent Grulke’s upper arm at the old China Sea Tattoo Company on Guadalupe sometime around 1985. I can still remember the tobacco-stanky walls, lined in brilliantly colored flash, and Brent wincing without complaint as Rollo sank the ink in his flesh.
Neither of those gentlemen are with us now, but come Saturday at the Moody Theater, they’ll be watching what we’re doing down here. That’s celebrating the life of Brent Grulke – father, husband, friend, family – with a perfect group of usual suspects: True Believers, Sixteen Deluxe, Fastball, Doctors’ Mob, Glass Eye, the Reivers, the Wannabes, Wild Seeds, and whoever else will be moved to get onstage and deal with the crushing pain of losing, not just a friend, but a beloved and integral part of the local music community.
Those are the right bands for the occasion, too, a loose gathering of post-punk and so-called “New Sincerity” survivors with a touch of early Nineties zeitgeist. At one end of the through line, Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham anchor the True Believers with marching, charging guitars, while at the other Carrie Clark and Frenchie Smith summon Trance Syndicate Records’ neutron fuzz bomb. At all points in between regroup Cinderella stories (Fastball), Daniel Johnston-inspiring art rock (Glass Eye), cult indie legends (the Reivers, neé Zeitgeist), eternal ATX bar rock (the Wannabes, Doctors' Mob), and the anthemic cutting edge of Brent’s collaborative past (Wild Seeds).
While we at the Chronicle remember Brent Grulke as Music editor, it was his position as creative director of South by Southwest that honed his sharp vision and exquisitely good taste into never-to-be-forgotten showcases. And if it’s true that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, it will be conjured over and over to ease this staggering loss. Proceeds benefit the Graham Grulke Education Fund.
09/07/12 @ ND Austin
ND First Birthday
Electric Lounge MC Hamell On Trial returns to fete its successor venue along with Blind Pets, Moonlight Towers, Wannabes, and boy + kite.
01/28/12 @ ND AustinK-NACK @ 20: Night Two
Deja Phooey: K-NACK Homegroan Volume Two
from 1994 remains a hell-and-gone Austin indie summit, scene stalwarts of the grunge era reaching back a decade in celebration of the former local radio frequency, 107.7FM. Fastball performing Tommy Tutone’s “Jenny (867-5309),” Dead Horse boiling “Rock Lobster” (B-52’s), the Cherubs’ syrupy “I Want Candy” versus Auschwitz 46’s industrial “Whip It.” Volume Three’s prescient sampling included Spoon and Sixteen Deluxe. The second night of star-studded local band reunions relives main deejay Ray Seggern and Electric Lounge magnet Mike Henry’s salad years with: Wannabes (12mid), bug/Splinter (10:45pm), Gomez (TX) (9:30pm). Remind the Wannabes of their Homegroan Haircut 100 cover!
06/16/04 @ Hole in the Wall
Wannabes, Britt Daniel
Reunion of Austin’s glorious pop past teamed with Spoon’s cassette-deck-loving frontman.