Off the Record
"Aren't you guys too big to be playing this place?" a passerby asked White Denim Sunday night at the trendy Bunk Bar in Portland, Ore. The short answer was yes. The local power soul combo was hot off a sold-out UK run – to be continued at the Reading and Leeds festivals in August – and needed a warm-up for its set the following day at Sasquatch in George, Wash. Backstage, the quartet talked vintage influences (Yes, Soft Machine, 1970s British country-prog outfit Patto) on the band's latest, D (see review, "Texas Platters"), while fending off a dreaded "jam band" tagging. "Jam bands don't put out label-sanctioned singles on their albums," spit drummer Josh Block about "Drugs," a tune taken from the band's "Mirrored and Reversed" sessions (see "Mothers of Reinvention," Oct. 23, 2009) and recorded no fewer than six times at the label's behest. "It's more of the same shit," furthered bassist Steve Terebecki. "If there's more than one genre on a record, people don't know what to call it." OTR spotted at least one bootlegger in the audience, and 5th Street Studios owner Ryan Joseph's been filming most of the current tour. That's a good thing too. Rising like Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire, White Denim tore through the jazz-funk fusion of D before a sprawling, frantic medley of classic cuts. The unreleased soul-rarity "No Real Reason" flattened the capacity club after 75 voltaic minutes before the encore showstopper, "Let's Talk About It." White Denim returns to Antone's July 9.
The Great Southern Trendkill
Timmy Hefner hasn't been granted the keys to the city – yet – but this weekend the local booker effectively runs Red River and beyond. His Chaos in Tejas unleashes a four-day circus of roughly 130 hardcore, garage-rock, and crust-punk/metal acts touching down from the Broken Neck to End of an Ear Records and siphoned primarily into Mohawk, Beerland, and Emo's, respectively. The gathering's underground notoriety has turned it into a rare festival of firsts (Holland's Lärm) and farewells (Japan's Kriegshög), with colorful surprises like Syrian street-pop phenom Omar Souleyman (Antone's, Friday), the Guided by Voices cover band Textbook Committee (Red 7, Friday), and a Pride weekend tie-in (Red 7, Friday) featuring NOLA bouncers Katey Red and Big Freedia. "It's pretty much a year-round endeavor," says Hefner, who books the entire festival, mostly sponsorship-free (see "A Gathering of Tribes," May 22, 2009), and relayed his top five extreme picks for the festival.
Hooded Menace (Thu., 11:45pm, Red 7 inside)
"Perfect death metal/doom from Finland and one of only four U.S. shows."
Universal Order of Armageddon (Fri., 12:45am, Mohawk inside)
"Childhood favorite I never saw and local for me growing up in Virginia. Ex-Born Against, so what more do you need?"
Double Negative (Thu., 10:40pm, Emo's inside)
"One of the best U.S. hardcore bands finally make it to Texas."
Crazy Spirit (Thu., 7:25pm, Emo's inside)
"See above. :)"
Kriegshög (Sat., 12:15am, Emo's outside)
"One of the best bands in Japan playing their first U.S. show ever and sadly last show ever."
Night of the Living Dead
OTR walked on the set of Zombex, Jesse Dayton's debut film, last Tuesday at just the right moment: a burlesque sequence to the tune of the Sonics' version of "Have Love, Will Travel" on the Mohawk indoor stage. X guitarist John Doe helped set the scene. "My character, Seamus [O'Connor], is a bar owner in the Quarter, more type-casting," he cracked. "He's trying to tell Charlie to get his shit together. You don't realize it when he's saying it, but he's fucked the second he walks out that door." Zombex is a microbudget horror film about a zydeco star (Austin theatre actor David Christopher) and an anti-depressant pharmaceutical turning post-Katrina New Orleans into the land of the walking dead. Writer/producer Dayton calls it "a Gulf Coast regional colloquial Southern exploitation zombie movie." The local honky-tonk outlaw wrangled an impressive cast for the horror romp, including Lew Temple, Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, and Tom Araya (by the Slayer frontman's personal request), and after three weeks of shooting in NOLA, filming wrapped here on May 29. "The soundtrack is going to kill," says Dayton, no pun intended. "I've got Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis. We're going to put cool music in a zombie film for maybe the first time ever." Zombex spooks box offices Halloween 2011.
Deborah Gill likens the imminent closure of the Parlor's North Loop location to "a death in the family," a fitting analogy given that she's owned and operated the pizza parlor and live music haven with her husband, Damon, and three daughters for 11 years (see "Parlor Game," Feb. 27, 2009). Not at all coincidentally, that decade-plus has spurred a transformation in the area, one that's forcing the Parlor out with substantially higher rent, a shorter lease term, and practically no advance notice. "It just doesn't give one much security," laments Gill. The Parlor plans to host more live music at its successful Hyde Park location, but still needs to meet with the appropriate neighborhood associations. In the meantime, there's a thickening schedule at the original location billed through the closing date, June 21, including a showcase next Friday, June 10, with the Shitty Beach Boys, Literature, Come & Take It, Quin Galavis, and Hollywood Blondes.
Roky Erickson, circa The Evil One, has joined GG Allin and Milo in Aggronautix's Throbblehead series. The collectible 7-inch figurine makes a fine cubicle companion and is limited to 1,000 numbered units. Manager Darren Hill reports that the 13th Floor Elevators howler will be hitting the festival circuit in Europe this summer and will hopefully begin work on a new record soon after. "I'd like to continue mining the trove of Roky's songs that were never recorded or released properly," Hill says. "I'd like the next record to be comprised of the harder-edged, more rocking songs from the batch."
While surfing late-night television in Portland, Ore., OTR heard Balmorhea's distinct chamber-pop miniatures scoring Volvo's new ad campaign. Multi-instrumentalist Michael Muller confirmed the finding, adding that the band has also landed a spot with Intel and is set to release a new live CD package, Live at Sint-Elisabethkerk, recorded in Gent, Belgium, in November 2010. The most unlikely addition to Chaos in Tejas, Balmorhea serenades Antone's Saturday.
Sixteen Deluxe has six new degrees: Guitarist Carrie Clark flies solo in Elevated Lines, a dreamy, power-pop project with a debut, Evil Eye EP, reviewed in "Texas Platters." Bassist Jeff Copas has a new studio project/music collective called Eskimo Bros, while Frenchie Smith has launched a record label in conjunction with his production work. Austin's Smoke & Feathers and the Boxing Lesson have both signed on, with the latter preparing its Muerta EP for launch this month.