Music > Local Music
SA X SXSW
13 Alamo City acts featured at Austin’s biggest fest
“[Playing SXSW] is definitely fun. This time around, even more so than last time, it’s just about not drinking so much … we want to focus and do a good job this year,” says bassist Jenn Alva of the alt-punk trio’s plan to concentrate more on business than pleasure this time around.
Alva says the band’s new album, Trio B.C., is done, and they’ll perform a local CD-release show at the end of May. The band’s also coming out with a 7-inch of older tunes, so expect both old and new songs at SXSW. “There’s a few we’ve played live, and there’s some really brand-new songs,” says Alva of the new album.
Alva cites the now defunct Sin 13 as her all-time fave local club and Sam’s Burger Joint as her current favorite, where the band took in the recent Heartless Bastards show.
“We’re still really proud to be a part of the San Antonio music scene. There’s so many great, amazing bands,” says Alva, but adds that many SA acts don’t get the larger exposure they deserve because “either they just don’t stay together or they remain in San Antonio and don’t tour.”
— Greg M. Schwartz
1 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez
10:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, Maggie Mae’s, 323 E. Sixth St.
Those guys in Hacienda are humble dudes. In response to our email inviting the band to participate in our cover photo shoot, Dante Schwebel — cousin and bandmate of brothers Abraham, Rene, and Jaime Villanueva — sent back a polite “Sorry, we are out of town and won’t be able to make it.”
The reply could have easily been “Sorry, we are on a national tour with Dan Auerbach — you know, guitarist for the Black Keys — as both his opening band and his backing band, and we won’t be able to make it. Oh, and we also just played Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He’s really tall.”
Hacienda is a class act all the way, and seems to have found success in spite of being from San Antonio, not because of it. An anomaly of the metalheaded local scene, the group equally worships the sun-baked melodies of the Beach Boys and Rubber Soul-era Beatles. Hacienda’s full-length debut, Loud Is the Night (produced by Auerbach, with some help from Dr. Dog), has garnered positive press from Rolling Stone. If you judge a band by the company they keep, Hacienda seems poised for a trip to the big leagues.
— Chuck Kerr
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, Headhunters, 720 Red River
1 a.m. Thursday, March 19, The Parish, 214 E. Sixth St.
9:40 p.m. Thursday March 19, Emo’s Jr., 603 Red River
DJ Jester the Filipino Fist (aka Greg Michael Pendon) doesn’t really live here anymore. He’s moved to Austin (again), but unlike many such defectors, he still reps Alamo City and plays here regularly. In fact, thanks to his ongoing Get Busy! shows with Ernest Gonzales at Limelight on First Fridays, he says, “Now that I’m back in Austin, I play more gigs in San Antonio than I did when I lived in San Antonio.”
This will be DJ Jester’s seventh SXSW appearance, and his fourth year to host the festival’s Sunday-night closing party. He says discouraged SA musicians who claim an anti-Alamo prejudice on the festival’s part should take note: It wasn’t his new 787 zip code that finally caught South By’s elusive eye; it was the high-profile touring he did with Kid Koala. And, he adds, “I don’t want to say I was at my peak back when I lived in San Antonio, but I definitely got more national recognition. Now that I live in Austin, I’ve only been on one tour.”
— Jeremy Martin
8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, Scoot Inn, 1308 E. Fourth St.
8 p.m. Sunday, March 22, Emo’s Jr., 603 Red River
A prediction: Mojoe’s SXSW showcase might well be the last chance you have to claim you saw the formerly San Antonio based hip-hop duo before they exit earth’s atmosphere. The group’s upcoming sophomore release Dirty Genes (see “‘Gene’ therapy,” February 11, 2008) has massive hit potential, and the dichotomy between the emotional sincerity of the title track and club-ready hooks of “My Favorite Cut” might very well change the game for the better while moving some serious ringtones.
In concert, Mojoe’s backed by the Family Band, an on-point combo that can swap jazz for funk in a measure’s notice, and they aren’t above cutting new material with back-catalog favorites and even taking shouted requests from their old-school SA fanbase.
— Jeremy Martin
11 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, Mohawk (patio), 912 Red River
This homegrown Texas blues band is playing SXSW for the first time since 1991.
“There’s a reason I haven’t played SXSW [in 18 years],” says Webb. “I’ve never been a big fan of those kind of things [industry schmoozing events]. Sometimes I get a sense of complete desperation from musicians there, so I’ve never been a big fan of that kind of venue.”
But Webb was pleased to be asked to represent San Antonio. He says SA is a good music town with “people who are great musicians and want to be able to live comfortably.” Webb attributes the Swindles’ chemistry and longevity to its familiarity — everyone in the band grew up together, and they’ve been playing together since college. Music runs in the family — Webb’s older sister played in seminal ’60s Austin psychedelic band the Children.
The band’s latest album goes in more of a country direction, Webb says, and the band will be joined at SXSW by accordionist Michael Guerra from Shawn Sahm & the Tex-Mex Experience.
— Greg M. Schwartz
10 p.m. Friday, March 20, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.
FROM THE TEX-MEX EXPERIENCE
What do SXSW vets know that rookies don’t?
From my standpoint, the best thing is the exposure and meeting people, rubbing elbows. … Careerwise, I think that goes by each individual band. It depends on where you’re at. … If you’re up-and-coming, and you’ve got it rocking, there’s a lot of opportunity.
What sets your music apart from other Texas blues bands?
The fact that my music is stemmed so deep in Texas roots and my family. My band is a second-generation Texas band [Shawn is the son of Doug Sahm], and I have my own thing to say musically. It’s the family roots thing, more so than just pushing a career. It’s keeping a sound alive that means a lot to us.
You’ve played with some well-known bluesmen, who made the biggest impact on you?
I’ve toured with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Los Lonely Boys. … But some of the cats I’ve learned the most from were the guys in my dad’s band, that showed me so much.
— Greg M. Schwartz
9:55 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces
12 a.m. Thursday, March 19, Mother Egan’s, 715 W. Sixth St.
8 p.m. Thursday, March 19, Antone’s 213 W. Fifth St.
If that South Texas drawl ain’t a dead giveaway that Daniel Boskind’s a local, check out the pink-and-teal airbrushed Spurs wallpaper on his MySpace page. Um, unless you happen to be franchise owner Peter Holt, in which case, forget we said anything at all, because the last thing this dude probably needs is some kind of bullshit intellectual-property-infringement charges. He’s already proudly copped to shoplifting, movie piracy, and narcotics dealing in origin story “Never Quit,” and admitted (multiple times) to chronic chronic use in reggae-tinged “Pushing Fire.” And as far as pissed-off copyright-holders go, a bulldozer manufacturer is the least of his problems. Our advice, Daniel: Forget Holt and focus on avoiding fellow SXSW showcaser Tori Amos, whose disturbing rape recollection “Me and a Gun” you ballsily reappropriate on your track of the same name. Don’t let “A Sorta Fairytale” fool you — that bitch is crazy.
— Jeremy Martin
12:15 a.m. Friday, March 20, Fuze, 505 Nueces
PAUL LOPEZ FROM
How did De Los Muertos come together?
Our bassist J.G. [Julian Garcia] had the idea. I was with a band called the Bent Gents, and we’d known each other for a long time. He asked me if I wanted to start up something. He wanted to do a little traditional kind of stuff, something new, and keep it rock ‘n’ roll.
Your voice is really unusual. Were there any particular singers who inspired you?
A big influence of mine is Shane MacGowan — also Joe Strummer and David Johansen. I’ve been told that I sound somewhat like Tom Waits, and the funny thing is that I’d never really gotten into Tom Waits before this band. I kind of started hearing him, and I guess there is something of him in there.
Any special plans for SXSW?
We’re all really excited about it, and we’re just gonna go all balls out and rock it. We’ll just go forth and conquer.
— Gilbert Garcia
11 p.m. Friday, March 20, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.
Hardcore thrashers Bitter End are puro San Anto, but it might be easier to catch them in Austin. Save a single March 17 slot at Jigger’s (at HOD’s CD-release party) and a May 1 appearance at the Warhol (Lie & Wait’s farewell show), ATX is the closest Bitter End is scheduled to come before they headline a month-long European tour. And that’s intentional.
“We try not to play locally too often,” says lead singer Daniel Rosen. “We like to spread out our shows so it’s more of a big deal.”
This will be Bitter End’s second SXSW appearance and their second time to represent SA in the TX Hardcore showcase at Red 7, which will also feature such Lone Star notables as Houston’s the Jonbenet and Austin’s Mammoth Grinder.
— Jeremy Martin
1:15 a.m. Thursday, March 19, Red 7, 611 E. Seventh St.
HANS FRANK FROM
For people who’ve never seen a Glambilly show, how would you describe your sound?
Basically, it’s just rock ’n’ roll. Jerry Lee Lewis meets the Cramps, meets Joe Turner, meets New York Dolls.
Can you talk about your Latinesque take on Johnny Cash’s classic “Folsom City Blues,” re-titled the “Folsom City Rumba?”
That just came about from a desire not to segregate musical styles. A big influence of mine is also Ray Charles, and the way that Ray Charles embraced country music and incorporated those songs into R&B. Everything came full circle when I moved to San Antonio and was really exposed to Doug Sahm. I’d played in garage bands, and heard Doug Sahm’s “She’s About a Mover” on, like, Nuggets samplers or whatever. But I had never been exposed to what he really did in his music, and when I heard him I realized there was no need to segregate or keep musical genres intact.
— Chuck Kerr
8 p.m. Friday, March 20, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.
How would you define Piñata Protest’s unique sound?
Our style pretty much comes from what we grew up listening to. For the most part, our sound comes from our roots — being Mexican, and Mexican-American. That’s where the accordion comes in. The punk rock, which is another big part of our sound, is something we discovered growing up.
Growing up, did your parents listen to a lot of traditional Mexican music, or rock?
It was all conjunto music, at least in my family. I hated it! Something changed when I graduated high school. For some reason, I started liking it. I knew I wanted to do something different, and I didn’t think there were many bands that had that sort of instrumentation and sound, so I thought it would be different, and fun.
Aside from playing gigs, your members are active in the community as well. Is that a big part of what you guys do as a band?
That is more of a personal thing. That’s just what we do, what we care about. As far as the band is concerned, I’m the one who writes the lyrics, so for me it is political but it’s not political in the sense that we’re using it as a tool to try and change things. It’s more just speaking about experience — the things I write about are the things I care about, and if that can change somebody’s viewpoint to make them agree with us, then great.
Listening to your music, I thought, “Only San Antonio could have put out this kind of band” — you wouldn’t hear this in Austin, or Dallas. It’s all very homegrown.
Well, San Antonio is a very diverse city. Our music is just a reflection of who we are, and we’re diverse people from different backgrounds. That’s pretty much what makes our music.
— Chuck Kerr
12 a.m. Saturday, March 21, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.
Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum)
As a live band, the Krayolas have always represented unabashed fun: concise, catchy tunes; ringing guitars; and high-spirited harmonies. That’s why it’s so jolting to find that their new album Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum) leads off with the bloody New Orleans history lesson “Marie Laveau” and quickly segues into a border tale of mass decapitation called “Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag.” The latter song might be the most adventurous track this well-mannered group has ever committed to disc, with its leap from a traditional conjunto intro to a lilting cumbia groove that evokes the surreal brilliance of Los Lobos’s “Kiko and the Lavender Moon.”
Buoyed by critical praise for last year’s La Conquistadora, this band (frequently augmented by the roaring West Side Horns) sounds looser and more playful than ever before. With “A-Frame,” frontman Hector Saldaña makes sing-along magic out of a depressing breakup, and “Chola Song” is a giddy, pure-pop, convertible tour of the South Side. Long Leaf Pine stumbles only with the grinding “So Happy,” a riff-driven jam uncomfortably reminiscent of Red Rider’s “Lunatic Fringe.” But it’s a mere speed bump for a band whose comeback shows no signs of letting up.
— Gilbert Garcia
9 p.m. Friday, March 20, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.
Trouble All its Own
After more than 15 years of nightmarish demon blues, Boxcar Satan continues to evolve. That is to say the band only gets meaner and nastier with time, and never more so than on the trio’s latest, Trouble All Its Own.
Simultaneously channeling Howlin’ Wolf and Charles Bukowski, singer-guitarist Sanford Allen eats his breakfast in the ruins, extols the virtues of talking dirty (even in Swahili!), and brands himself a hard-luck case. And with his feedback-drenched slide-guitar runs scraping the fretboard with pure malice, you never doubt that he means business. Best of all, he lifts you off the floor with the push-pull jerkiness of “On Dry Land,” possibly the finest existential fish lament in the rock canon.
Dirty blues mixed with beat poetry, with the free-jazz sax improvisations of James Cobb flying over the lunacy, Boxcar Satan proves — to twist a famous Dolly Parton quote — that you have to be pretty sophisticated to make music this primitive.
— Gilbert Garcia
1 a.m. Saturday, March 21, Habana Bar, 708 E. Sixth St.