Whether you're gay, straight, bi, trans, or patently asexual, this week you can support your LGBTQ brothers and sisters by partying at a variety of Pride events in Austin. Not just DJs, drag queens, and Donna Summer covers; the soundtrack to Austin's gay culture remains as diverse as the community itself.
The official Pride Festival, at Fiesta Gardens on Saturday from 11am to 6pm, features a rapid fire review of performers including Erasure singer Andy Bell, JD Samson of Le Tigre, Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem, the Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin, JoJo from the Mary Jane Girls, and electro hip-hop duo Double Duchess.
After years of Pride hosting a reputably dull entertainment lineup, Nathan Garcia took over booking duties two years ago and began filling the bill with cutting edge artists like bounce diva Katey Red, electroclash shocker Peaches, and twin punk rappers Elephant.
"It was tame before, so I've tried to provide something more exciting to make the festival more of a destination spot," remarked Garcia. "In Austin we have a lot to live up to in terms of entertainment."
If you'd rather see someone strum a guitar than shake their ass, you might check out OUTlander Fest, Saturday at the Cedar Street Courtyard, whose all-gay, mostly local lineup focuses on live musicianship. Look for soulful belters Nakia, Tje Austin, and Lisa Marshall, as well as Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi and pro-basketball-player-turned-rapper Will Sheridan, among others.
Other stand-alone shows offer queer-friendly music like Elysium's Saturday spectacular with popular electro-goth act Light Asylum, whose $20 cover is half off with a Pride wristband.
Even local performance artist Paul Soileau, who founded a reaction against Pride called Queerbomb, will be performing in his gender monster persona Christeene on Friday at Rain on 4th, billed as his alter ego's first show at a "respectable" gay bar in Austin.
One of Austin's most bizarre acts, Christeene resembles a thrashed-out transsexual prostitute, with lipstick smeared around a gold-toothed grin, and skirts so short you're bound to see balls. With impressive lyrical dexterity and beat selection, he bashes through songs like "African Mayonnaise," "Tears From My Pussy," and "Fix My Dick" while conducting a live show equally vile and entertaining.
Embracing the elements of sexuality that people find shameful, the local provocateur's popularity is on the rise, having recently completed a European tour that included stops at mega-festivals Glastonbury and Sonar. Soileau says Christeene's X-rated show isn't intended to merely shock, but to wake people up from their presumptions about gender.
As incomparable as the sleazy brilliance of a Christeene performance seems to the family-friendly flamboyance of Pride Fest, or the deep singer-songwriter angle of OUTlander, it all exists in the same spirit: Be proud of who you are.
David Yow, screamer for the Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid, returns to Austin this fall to front another legendary local band from the Eighties: the Dicks. SausTex Records CEO Jeff Smith confirmed that the performance, billed as David Yow & the Dildos, will be part of his annual Austin Corn Lover's Fiesta on Oct. 5 at Infest, not to be confused with another "ACL" that takes place the same weekend. Yow subs in for Dicks frontman Gary Floyd, who's sidelined as he deals with multiple knee surgeries and being evicted from his rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco (revisit "Saturday Night at the Bookstore," May 12, 2000). Yow has made public how much Floyd's wild, subversive stage presence influenced his own. The band includes original Dicks members Buxf Parrott and Pat Deason, plus later additions Davy Jones and Mark Kenyon. Proceeds from the event, which also features Honky and the Gay Sportscasters, benefit Floyd.
› Dust off your old tape deck, cassettes are cool again (see our cover story last week). The indomitably sturdy, inexpensive, and easy-to-copy format has gained enough favor to merit it's own international consumer holiday: Cassette Store Day, this Saturday. Waterloo Records and End of an Ear are listed as official retailers for CSD, which will issue special edition releases by the Flaming Lips, Fucked Up, Deerhunter, and more. Also look for releases by local cassette kings Holodeck Records, whose recent tapes include Sneaky Snake's Eventide and an intriguing EP of modular synth compositions by the mysterious Sensum and Clunch.
› Hardly Sound, the KLRU-Q series that documents local bands with respectful depth and heavy personal narrating from director Chris Kim, returns for a second season on Monday at 11pm. The year-two premiere features local dream pop trio Yum and focuses on the unique experiences of second generation Asian Americans. Yum performs at Hardly Sound's free premiere party tonight (Sept. 5), 7pm, at the old Austin City Limits Studio 6A.
› Release shows: Sip Sip drops its aptly-titled debut EP, Party Record, this Saturday at the Scoot Inn. Livening the vibe by means of electro beats, jazz horns, funky rhythms, and trippy vocals, they're the hip Austin indie version of Parliament Funkadelic. The same night, psych punk fireplugs the Mole People, armed with animated lead singer Joshua Gamma, take over Holy Mountain to slang brand new LP Lost Age.
› Fuckemos are reuniting to play their first show since they helped usher the closure of their namesake venue's Red River location in December 2011. Perhaps the most notorious band of Austin's Nineties, Russell Porter and company took metal and punk to an unprecedented level of pitch-shifted, don't-give-a-fuck weirdness. Porter estimates this Sunday's show at Eastside scene-hub Hotel Vegas will be the only Fuckemos show of 2013.
The epic career of Western swing kings Asleep at the Wheel gets a quick accounting in a new documentary debuting at the Long Center on Sunday. Then and Now traces the locals' unlikely path from a hippy cabin in West Virginia to Northern California's freak scene and onto Austin, where Ray Benson and company have persevered into a fourth decade.
We see incredible vintage concert footage at the Armadillo, interviews with honorary bandmate Willie Nelson, a priceless cameo from Bill Cosby, and an inside look at the tour bus. What seems most profound is how effectively a band of East Coast longhairs naturalized in the Lone Star state, becoming synonymous with Texas swing and lassoing the moniker "the national band of Texas." The Legislature even named Benson, a man as big and bold as the state itself, Texan of the Year in 2011, no small feat for a Jewish guy from Pennsylvania.
Echoing his own statement from the documentary, I asked Benson, "How the hell did this happen?"
"I think it's my natural ability to be a chameleon to my surroundings," he explains. "I got a basketball scholarship when I was 11 to a private, all-boys prep school. They were kinda patrician and all spoke fancy. After only a year, one of my old friends said, 'You're even talking like 'em now!'
"It's sort of like the 'when in Rome' thing. I'm not gonna lose who I am, but when I got to Texas the whole idea was to become a Texan, and we'd already done that musically."
Benson says he considers his Texas icon status a "double honor" because his home state of Pennsylvania has basically rejected him.
"My sister nominated me for a musician walk of fame in downtown Philadelphia," he laughs. "She never even got a call back."
The 35-minute movie, a teaser for a feature-length documentary, plays at 7pm. When the curtain rises, Asleep at the Wheel will perform with some very special guests.
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