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La Migra/Night Drive/... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

La Migra, Night Drive, and ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Reviewed by Claire Gordon, Fri., Jan. 17, 2014

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Photo by John Leach

La Migra/Night Drive/... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Cheer Up Charlie's, Jan. 10-12

Rain, forecast for last call, began falling on the mob gathered outside Sunday night to witness the final show at Cheer Up Charlie's. No one budged. As the beloved East Sixth bar readies a move across the highway into Club de Ville's former spot on Red River, loyal regulars paid ground zero a fitting farewell.

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead closed out a three-day weekend both bitter and sweet, matching a confetti cannon and carpet of sparklers with post-punk and pop and trademark performance whiplash. After the bombast and crowd-surfing, as the local quartet removed its instruments, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" bellowed over the PA. We hardcores had been thinking as much all weekend.

An integral component to East Sixth's revitalization as an entertainment corridor – and in this millennium to an unsegregated demographic – CUC proudly showcased the type of music complementing the North Door, White Horse, and Hotel Vegas nearby: Whatever it damn well pleased. For this last waltz on its original home turf, punk, prog, indie, and soft acoustic sets took turns beginning on Friday inside and in the band shell, crowds hitting capacity more often than not.

The first night crescendoed with La Migra playing inside. Fast and unapologetic, the Austin garage/surf foursome supercharged its set by using the tiny amount of space they could carve out from the sardine-packed venue to produce an inordinate amount of energy. Night Drive peaked Saturday by delivering Eighties synth-pop as accomplished as the Human League.

On the final day, Jess Williamson began by wearing the same dress as her first CUC gig. She played living room-folk to an audience that encompassed all ages, styles, and genres, while peppering her intimate set with between-song confidences. Ruby Fray followed on the patio with a Nineties grunge band pounding that distracted everyone from the gathering clouds. Midnight Masses, a Trail of Dead spin-off, cleared the way for the mothership with prog gravitas.

Cheer Up Charlie's leaves a void on the other side of the tracks. Those glitter-spangled boots will be hard to fill. The west side, however, just caught a break.

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