Rock & Roll Weekend
Three nights, three shows, three different venues around town. Playback’s busy weekends don’t show any signs of slowing down.
THURSDAY: Pinata Protest, Antone’s
Even after witnessing accordion legends Celso Piña and Flaco Jiménez earlier this month at Pachanga, I was still impressed by the furious squeeze-box stylings of Pinata Protest’s Alvaro Del Norte. His Latino punk band brought their high energy, road-tested live show to the new Antone’s Thursday night, celebrating sophomore full-length El Valiante, produced locally by Chris “Frenchie” Smith and branded onto Hickoids head-honcho Jeff Smith’s San Antonio imprint Saustex Media.
Just as Flogging Molly found success mixing Irish music with punk rock and Gogol Bordello turned non-believers on to Eastern European dance music, the San Antonio quartet delivered a supercharged take on traditional Tex-Mex styles Thursday, covering “La Cucaracha” and “Volver Volver” without sounding cheesy. Considering their growing fan base, all of whom are willing to circle-pit to rancheras, Pinata Protest could be next to change the trad-punk game.
FRIDAY: Blind Pets, Blackheart
With his grandiose rock & roll theatrics – chest bumping his guitar, then humping it against his amplifier until it squeals feedback, and taking it out onto the dancefloor to violently slam around the audience – my buddy Josh Logan recalls Angus Young: half the audience, double the swagger. His grungy rock trio the Blind Pets partied at the Blackheart on Friday in celebration of a new 7-inch on local label Pau Wau Records. Uniquely, they recorded lead track “He Said, She Said” to be played at two different speeds: 33rpm for the men’s perspective, 45rpm for the women’s.
The Pets’ signature showstopper, jumping drummer Michael Anthony Gibson onto the kickdrum and handing him a guitar while Logan beats the drums like a caveman, devolved into chaos as the drum kit’s floor tom migrated from the stage into the crowd and bassist Dustin Hannah beat his strings with a drumstick. Thoroughly milking the messy din to an almost unbearable level, the Blind Pets continued their quest of making a show end in such a ridiculous manner as to render the term “grand finale” irrelevant.
SATURDAY: A Giant Dog, Beerland
On Saturday night, A Giant Dog damsel Sabrina Ellis dropped by my house so that we could share stories of intentionally pissing ourselves onstage – an under-appreciated frontman tactic that rarely pays off with a positive audience reaction. Turns out earlier this month, as her band toured through the Midwest, Ellis decided to jumpstart a passive audience by urinating onstage.
Problem was, she frequently wears a leotard and you couldn’t really tell she was peeing, so she laid on her back with her feet in the air and pissed down her stomach onto her chest, then jumped into the audience to shake it off. Only after rubbing herself on total strangers did she realize the audience was mostly middle-aged people trying not to get covered in bodily fluids.
“It’s a slippery slope to becoming GG Allin,” I cautioned, making reference to the late Murder Junkie madman once obsessed with self-mutilation.
The swelling crowd that showed up to her hell-raising quintet’s homecoming show at Beerland on Saturday arrived so revved up that the frontwoman didn’t have to empty her bladder on them. The band’s ripping 40-minute set of powerful punk melodies ended with singer/guitarist Andrew Cashen on his knees and bassist Graham Low laying shirtless on his back – raw carnage that reinforced their distinction as one of Austin’s most exciting bands.