Crosstalk: Recapping Hot Sauce Fest, Stereolab, HAAM Day, and Topshelf Records' Stalemate With Austin-Based Merch Warehouse

Austin music news headlines of the week


Luna Luna performs at the Hot Sauce Festival (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Fest's music-team-picked sonic selections provided relief for the crowd of spicy tasters at the sold-out Sunday gathering. The 32nd annual event sprawled at the Far Out Lounge for the second year in a row, soundtracked by returning DJ McPullish (appropriately the co-owner of Goodburn Sauce Co.). KindKeith's musically keen sixpiece crew opened up the yellow stage. Introducing "Depression Jazz," bandleader Keith Galloway Jr. warned: "If there are any young kids in the audience thinking of going to jazz school, just don't." Mama Duke won over photo-requesting kiddie fans with her undeniable crowd work and trusty DJ/producer Spred. The emcee celebrated her last show before an upcoming ACL Fest debut – sharing weekend one plans with lineup mates Luna Luna. All in blue, TC Superstar's two fluid dancers and three chipper players romped through favorites like "Waste My Time," integrating iPhones into the movement. Around a year after relocating from Dallas, Luna Luna's fans flocked after dark to hear dreamy takes on Harry Styles' "As It Was" and a touch of "Gasolina" – with one Far Out-employed fan brandishing a sign reading: "Clocked out for this." – Rachel Rascoe

Stereolab's Lætitia Sadier summarized the English French group's sustaining cool (as well as their recently remastered 1992 song) early in the Friday set at ACL Live: "Do you remember 'Low Fi'?" The cross-generation crowd could maybe relate to my background with the band: introduced to me years ago by my boyfriend, who was schooled on Stereolab lore by scene elder Dean Studeny while working at a grocery store. Unlike the hit-condensed selections for the Groop's 2019 Mohawk show – part of their first tour in over a decade – last weekend's ventured B-sides and new releases. The quintet calmly occupied the front half of the big stage with beat-up guitars, button-downs, and scattered printer paper set lists at the feet of guitarist Tim Gane. After the finale found "French Disko," a chaotically churning instrumental medley closed the rare gig to land both Resound and Levitation co-presentation. – R.R.

HAAM Day returned in full force last Tuesday, marking the health care-providing nonprofit's first in-person shebang since 2019. Mayor Steve Adler and Lesly Reynaga admirably took the Waterloo Park stage at 6am, kicking off a daylong run of shows across classic locales, like Cheer Up Charlies and Antone's, and offbeat pop-ups, like sponsoring PNC Bank locations and H-E-Bs. On their biggest fundraiser of the year, HAAM aimed to raise around $850,000 to keep providing free to low-cost health care to thousands of Austin musicians – especially important with fall open enrollment incoming. Donate any old day at myhaam.org. – R.R.

Topshelf Records scrambles to obtain and relocate 17 years' worth of inventory out of an Austin distribution warehouse after mail order fulfillment company Awesome Merch (part of the Awesome Distro organization that is partly based in Leeds, UK) went bankrupt in August. In a blog post by Kevin Duquette, the Topshelf Records founder writes that the independent label is being denied access to all its physical catalog because the contents of the warehouse are considered property of its landlord. Unable to ship orders, Topshelf made the decision to turn off its website and Bandcamp stores temporarily. To fund the large-scale orchestration of transporting a plethora of merchandise 1,400 miles away, Duquette launched a Kickstarter campaign that has already surpassed its $24,000 goal. Awesome Merch, which routinely advertised in the Chronicle, expanded its warehouse footprint significantly in the year leading up to the shutdown. – Kriss Conklin

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Awesome Merch, Hot Sauce Festival, Stereolab, HAAM, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Mama Duke, TC Superstar, KindKeith, Luna Luna

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