Kiss Offs, Britt Daniel, Shindigs, Hole in the Wall, November 11
Kiss Offs, Britt Daniel, Shindigs
Hole in the Wall, November 11 It was nice to see a line in front of Hole in the Wall -- on a weeknight! A faint glimmer of hope in what has been a positively dismal six months for the live music community. Or rather it would have been, had the fare not consisted of one local act that seems to change personnel from gig to gig, another who's already moved away, and another set to go their separate ways next month. In other words, there was a bit of a pall over this otherwise idyllic Thursday-night rock show. Just as real was the almost palpable buzz hanging in the air, something rarer in Austin these days than vegans at the Iron Works. And maybe all this recent doomsaying is a trifle premature, because all three acts seized on that energy and channeled it into their performances, resulting in something pretty rare in its own right: a show no one wanted to end -- rage, rage against the dying of the night. Openers the Shindigs welcomed Susie Martinez to the drum stool in fine style, the ex-Hormone's taut, insistent skinwork buoying the band and adding extra zing to guitarist Geoff Lasch's already-sharp leads and fills. Other times, it fell to singer Melissa Bryan, who veered from plaintive to whimsical to near-snide in a performance that was seldom short of arresting. If the Shindigs can ever settle on a permanent lineup, they could be truly dangerous. Next was Britt Daniel, making what had to be a triumphant homecoming from a summer spent in the Big Apple. Daniel has a gift for composing songs that all cut like diamonds -- lyrically and musically -- while each refracts the pop spectrum in its own unique way. Standing alone onstage with just a hollowbody electric guitar, Daniel trotted out Spoon favorites like "Car Radio," "Advance Cassette," and "Waiting for the Kid to Come Out," prompting a welcome cheer on the Electric Lounge line. The one concession to his big-city wanderings was a boombox doubling as a drum machine, but even the unobtrusive, elementary hip-hop loops evinced a refreshing lack of B-boy posturing. Of course, closers the Kiss Offs are all about posturing, so it took a while to load in the local quintet's plentiful equipment -- and to get their wigs just so. But it was worth it, because when the Kiss Offs perform, by God they perform. Songs like "Dream Date," "Bottle Blonde," and "Looking Through," already close to perfect on their Goodbye Private Life CD, crackled with renewed urgency and drive. Even if it was fueled by the dwindling days before keyboardist Katey Jones departs for Chicago, the interplay between her and singer/guitarists Travis Higdon and Phillip Niemeyer swept the ravenous crowd along into a thrill-seeking, body-rocking vortex of Peek-a-Boo pleasure. And so the night played out a bit like Poe's Masque of the Red Death, as the world beyond Hole in the Wall mattered little to the revelers inside, who nonetheless kept one wary eye on the clock, hoping in vain to postpone the moment when the music would cease and reality once again descend like an early morning fog.
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