Playback: They Only Came To Kick Some Ass
Both Jack Black the actor and Jack Black the rocker rule Austin
"We played here in 2002. It wasn't the same building, but it was the same spot," explained Jack Black last Thursday from the stage of the Austin Music Hall. "They tore it down because we rocked it too hard – broke the foundation."
Black and Kyle Gass, together the satirical comedy-rockers Tenacious D, quickly tore through songs from Rize of the Fenix, which Black complained was the uncredited titular inspiration for Christopher Nolan's latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight Rises. The duo, backed by a crack band including Bad Religion drum virtuoso Brooks Wackerman, killed new favorites "Roadie" and "Throw Down," while a massive, inflatable dick-bird complete with bat wings and a forked tongue loomed behind them. As they launched the hits portion of the set list, Black offered some advice for local residents.
"Austin is the best city in Texas and perhaps the whole U.S.A. The only problem is the secret's out – everybody knows it, so it's really crowded.
What you need to do is come up with a false negative story like you've got cancer bats ... to keep people away. To keep this secret."
Later he added that "poisonous beavers" would be another viable excuse.
Toward the end of the 105-minute set, Tenacious D drew epic energy from a stagy version of Pick of Destiny highlight "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)" and a medley of songs from the Who's Tommy. During the encore, a loud, crowd-sung version of the D's sensitive classic "Fuck Her Gently" capped the night and the duo exited through a large vagina at the back of the stage.
Just around the corner, on the outside wall of the neighboring Violet Crown Cinema, hung a banner with Jack Black's image. Not the scruffy, sweaty Jack Black that a sold-out throng of thousands had just witnessed playing acoustic metal in front of a phallic fire bird, but rather Jack Black the actor – hair parted, mustached, well-dressed. Bernie. The Richard Linklater film starring Black as mortician Bernie Tiede, is still selling out showings at the Downtown arthouse theatre after 12 weeks.
"Our audiences love it," says owner Bill Banowsky. "They tell their friends about it and their friends come and they love it, and they tell their friends about it and so on. It's a rare gem of a film. It's perfect for our cinema, and we expect it to be with us for a good while longer."
Banowsky, who founded film distributors Magnolia Pictures, also lauds the Tenacious D frontman: "Jack Black gives the performance of his career. He deserves an Oscar for Bernie."
That would be a game changer for Black – a thrust into cinematic immortality for a man who's already there with the dick-joke crowd.
All the Young Punks
It's been a huge month for the little dudes in Residual Kid. On July 12, the young noise-punk trio was announced as part of the Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup. Two days later, the locals got yanked up onstage at Red 7 to take over Peelander-Z's instruments during the Japanese band's madcap finale. This week, they're playing three Texas dates with Austin psych act the Boxing Lesson, for which Residual Kid drummer Ben Redman will be filling in on drums.
"Ben Redman plays the drums with power and intelligence beyond his 13 years," says Boxing frontman Paul Waclawsky. "Our friendship transcends age."
Residual Kid also have a new album in the works, laying tracks down earlier this month at the Bubble with Frenchie Smith at the controls. Taking a break from shooting a video for upcoming single "Friend" (directed by production team Tony Stout), the band explained how they used to be a quartet, backing singer-songwriter Grace London, until she left the band last year to pursue a solo career. In her wake, they were reborn rawer, heavier, and faster.
"We had to go back to where we we're before she was in the band and evolve from there," says singer/guitarist Deven Ivy, 14. The results are reminiscent of early Nirvana: feral punk energy spiked with noise-rock abandon. Just a year ago, Residual Kid was playing at Six Flags for free Flash Passes. Now, they're looking forward to shows like Stubb's inside stage after Devo and Blondie on September 18.
One day, the novelty of seeing 12-year-old bassist Max Redman thrash like a seasoned rocker will wear off, but that won't be the end of Residual Kid, because, while their youth creates the hype, their taste and talent will overcome it.
Divine Fits, the new band featuring Spoon's Britt Daniel, Handsome Furs' Dan Boeckner, and the New Bomb Turks' Sam Brown, will play its first show at Beerland on Aug. 1, followed by dates in Montreal, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio. Good luck getting in, though. Tickets sold out quickly online and Beerland booker Max Dropout doubts they will sell any more at the door. A band with "supergroup" hype choosing a 170-capacity club for its inaugural concert? "We work hard to make bands grow, and a lot of them go on to bigger places," Dropout offers. "They obviously don't need our help, but it's cool to see this band begin where so many other younger bands start, too. It's a cool gesture." Before the band's debut, A Thing Called the Divine Fits, drops Aug. 28 on Merge Records, they'll release the "My Love Is Real" single on July 31. Slipped into random copies of the 7-inch will be golden tickets that get you into the intimate Beerland performance. Only 10 of the golden tickets were printed, so if you don't get one in your record, don't be upset. At least you can enjoy the exclusive B-side cover of Camper Van Beethoven's "(I Was Born in a) Laundromat." The single will be available at Waterloo Records and End of an Ear.
› Illuminated by the pink glow of the still partially functional Beauty Bar neon sign, the marquee at 617 E. Seventh Street now reads Holy Mountain. That's the name of the soon-to-be-open bar and music venue. I asked one of Holy Mountain's owners, Red 7's Jared Cannon, to explain the name: "It's a pretty ridiculous story but here goes. On the last night of South by Southwest 2012 – also the last night of Beauty Bar's Downtown location – our friend James took what turned out to be an extremely generous dose of magic mushrooms. As the evening drew to a close, the old Red 7 and Beauty Bar janitor, Black Mike, had to help fight off a crowd of unruly drunks who wanted to wreck the bar. James started rambling about how Mike was defending the bar like it was some kind of 'holy mountain.' The name just stuck."
› The Bright Light Social Hour's van was burglarized last Friday in Canada. While in the parking lot of Centre Mall in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, two men were caught on security cameras dismantling the vehicle's lock and rifling through it for valuables. Among the estimated $15,000 worth of materials stolen were a custom Telecaster, custom P-Bass, Dave Smith Prophet '08 synth, and the members' personal effects. No one's been arrested in connection with the incident and only half of the financial loss will be covered by insurance. Help them get back on their feet by donating at www.thebrightlightsocialhour.com.
› Representatives from Circuit of the Americas, the new Grand Prix track in Southeast Austin, recently revealed plans to build a roughly 15,000-seat amphitheatre and announced that concert promotion giants Live Nation will be doing the booking. What this means to you: more major, nationally touring events coming through town. What this means to the Austin concert market: increased competition for other large-scale concert producers like the Frank Erwin Center and C3 Entertainment. The Tower Amphitheater is expected to be finished in early 2013. See Richard Whittaker's News blog "Live Nation to Book Circuit of the Americas," July 23.