This is an ongoing tale of Alan and Jo's exploits in Austin, TX. Alan hopes there will be plenty of tasty beer involved, while Jo hopes to find lots of interesting aircraft.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fastball live in Austin

Fastball opened the free concert on Auditorium Shores that is past of the SXSW music festival. They were awesome as always. We love Fastball!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Ludo at Emo's

We went downtown to get a meal out and go see a band. Haven't been downtown in months, so this was a nice change.

First stop was in the Iron Cactus, where we sat on their open balcony upstairs and had the most monster portion sizes of food. It was nice enough but way too much! Normally we would take it home in a to-go box but you can't really do that when going on somewhere else. Still, it was very pleasant sitting in the evening sun and watching the world while we ate.

Onwards, then, to Emo's where we joined the line and waited for a whlie until the doors opened. There were four bands here tonight; we were here to see the headliners, Ludo. Last summer they played at Batfest and were awesome, so we wanted to see them again.

Sadly, Emo's has just won the Alan-rated "worst sound system in Austin" trophy. Watching the first band we were treated to wooden bass and horrible room distortion. We stuck it out for a while and retreated outside, where the sound was great! So we enjoyed the next two bands from the comfort of some barstools outside....

Ludo finally came on so we went back inside. They were great, of course, if marred by the dodgy sound. They always have fun when they play. Look at the keyboard player on the left, here; that grin didn't leave his face once! So all in all, a good evening; nice to be out.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

House of Blues

So, we hie ourselves over to the House of Blues as previously indicated, to experience the joys of Getting Into a Gig In Dallas.

1) Join line.

2) Collect wristband for being over 21, so we can purchase alcoholic drinks. (given the average age of the crowd was about 14 this might actually be a good idea)

3) Get searched airline-style; empty pockets, Security Bloke waves magic wand over you. Alan empties his pockets which are filled, as usual, with keys,change,knife,wallet,more keys,bits of the Berlin Wall etc. Knife ends up in bin, to much aghastness; naturally they can't hold it for us until after the gig, that would be far too convenient.

4) Security Bloke has to search bags too of course. I asked him what he's looking for. Professional cameras and pens. Pens?! Yup, in case you draw all over the artwork inside the venue. Right...

5) Show tickets. (and we don't do this first because...?)

6) Get beer.

7) (optional, but the just rewards of getting there so damn early) Get seat! Woo! We don't have to stand about for five hours!

Then of course we sit through two support bands before the act we have come to see arrives on stage. The first lot were meant to be the Black Dahlia Murder although Alan wasn't convinced they were the same chaps as he'd seen online. They were a bit ropey but the second lot - Between the Buried and Me - were OK. Children of Bodom were very good, their set was a bit short but the musicianship was good. I have no notion of what they were singing about, this is a Death Metal band after all and intelligibility comes second to raw sound. Of which there was lots.

Top marks to House of Blues here, for their PA system was actually very well set up and was a pleasure to listen to. Please take note, La Zona Rosa in Austin; when we saw Squeeze and Fastball there the other week, an otherwise good concert was destroyed by the appallingness of the PA!!

Minus a point or two for the freezing cold air conditioning, even Alan got cold and that is saying something! Alan ignored the cold by ogling the extremely fancy Soundcraft mixing desk, lit up in bright colours and with LCD screens instead of endless rows of knobs, very swish if you like that sort of thing.

Children of Bodom brought their own lighting too, lots of forward facing extremely bright strobes which started making me want to sneeze. I had a stonking cold this last couple of days, and I also have photic sneeze reflex (don't laugh, you might well have it too) so these bloody lights were having an effect and I'm probably the saddest git in the building watching the gig with sunshades on. I don't care, they worked!

So we escaped unscathed after a mostly enjoyable evening. Round 1 complete!

~~~~ Happy interlude ~~~~~

Friday was mostly spent at the zoo! We took a tram (Dallas has trams!) a few stops down the line to Dallas Zoo which is supposedly the biggest zoological experience in Texas, and it was very good indeed. Lots of really very large enclosures for the animals, and a good variety of those. And even a monorail ride to keep Alan happy!

We repaired back to the hotel and eventually ended up in the West End Pub again (top marks to them for remembering what we were drinking from the night before) and enjoyed our beers, before trying the barbeque place round the corner.

~~~~ Round 2 ~~~~

And so we find ourselves approaching the House of Blues again for the second night. Proceedings went in a similar vein to the night before. Security Bloke seemed surprised we had come back but was pleased we had done so. The bar staff had changed around so the girl waiting tables recognised us from the bar the previous night. Dang!

We kicked off with The Willowz, who were from California and a little, well, young; really. They were OK-ish but had some work to do.

Next up were the Eagles of Death Metal which a lot of people seemed to recognise. This lot were a bit of an experience. The singer looked like he was straight out of a 70's porn movie, complete with dodgy moustache. He totally hammed it up all night which was most amusing. They didn't play any death metal; it was pretty straight rock and not bad either. I'd see them again.

And finally, the one we were waiting for: The Hives! Out they bounced, all dressed in matching black-and-white blazers and suits, and proceeded to pound us all night with the coolest, rock-solidest beats; this is punk you can dance to. Maybe you know their tune 'Tick Tick Boom'. They hammered down the tunes and were really tight as a band. Very cool stuff. I am noticing on the Wikipedia entry it says they are known for their "hilarious self-glorification"; yup, I'd go with that, the singer was laying it on thick all evening to a most amusing degree!

Alan and I always say the bands we enjoy most are the ones who look like they are having a good time on stage (Rush; Shiny Toy Guns are other examples) - I'd say The Hives belong there, they were well worth the trip.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Patricia Vonne live at Antones

Always good :-)


Sunday, February 04, 2007

A bit of live music and some observations

Alan had to go and meet with a chap on Thursday, so rather than stay in on my lonesome, I went down to the Saxon Pub where our friends Peggy and Lloyd were going to see Carolyn Wonderland, who they have been raving about as being very good. It only took me 50 minutes to make the 3-mile journey down Lamar Boulevard (Austin traffic!) so I was there in time to see the previous lot, Forlini Cross & Holden, who were playing some LOUD blues/rock. It was not bad - the keyboard/bassist had a good voice - but none of us could hear ourselves think!

Here's the culprits:

After a half-hour break, Carolyn Wonderland came on. Here's Carolyn with her drummer behind. Her keyboard player was too far to the right to get into this shot.

These guys were very good (and a bit quieter). Ms Wonderland plays regular guitar, a very small guitar that seemed to be strung like a mandolin, a lap harp and the trumpet.

Peggy and Lloyd told me that a number of their friends have been reading this blog, so hello to y'all! Leave a comment, say hello, I don't bite :-)

Here's a couple of shots that Alan took yesterday from my Jeep's passenger seat as we drove up Congress Avenue. The first one here is just after we crossed the river:

Now we are at the top end of Congress, turning left onto 11th, while Alan captures these anti-Iraq-war protestors outside the Capitol building:

Now, I've been gearing up for a bit of observation for a while. Some little differences between the UK and US.

First up - Washing machines. The tradition in the US is for top-loading machines that gush loads of water in, jiggle the clothes about a bit and spin them. We notice a growing trend for front-loading European style machines. They use about a 1/3 of the water, get the clothes cleaner and damage them less. OK, they take longer to wash but it's worth it. We are looking forward to getting one of these again; right now we are stuck with a top-loader which will have to do.

Light switches. Wall switches toggle the opposite way to those in the UK. And lamps are not switched with a horizontal push-rod but with a rotary thing in-line on the cable. These are a pain, quite frankly, as it's hard to tell when the thing is switched far enough.

Cars. Yes, they are driven on the other side of the road. But did you know that cars in Texas can't be started unless you depress the clutch? Oil changes are more frequent, too, with most cars wanting one between 3000-5000 miles. In the UK it's more like 12,000 miles. I guess the heat has something to do with that one. Likewise, roads here are surfaced with really hard tarmac. It gets very slippery in the wet but does not melt in the heat. British tarmac would be a pool of molten muck in Texas summer temperatures.

Tomato puree. Really! In the UK it comes in squeezy tubes like toothpaste. It is convenient like that. In the US it is called tomato paste and comes in tiny cans, so you have to decant the stuff you're not using into a dish and fridge it with cling film on.

Talking of toothpaste, we are delighted that in the three years since our previous stay in Texas, Colgate have decided to sell Mint Fresh toothpaste. All toothpaste in the UK is mint-flavoured, but American stuff is mostly a wierd cinnamony flavour. It is nice to be able to get minty toothpaste.

The way Americans spell names. I suppose it's a combination of different accents and the way people hear things, but the default spelling of our names seems to be Allen or Joe. For the record, we are ALAN and JO! To be fair, in the UK Alan often gets 'Allan'. I wonder if Jo isn't such a common girl's name here that most people just know the male spelling.

I guess that will do for now on those until I think of some more.

I had a dose of Karma the other day. I took a one-night evening class the other day and afterwards gave a classmate a dollar the other day to be able to get out of the parking garage we were in - she'd got in two minutes too soon and was charged $8 instead of the $3 she was expecting and only had $7 on her. She told me good Karma would come my way. I was in Lowe's two days later and a plant dish that I picked up was 87 cents. Their computer did not recognise the item so the clerk gave it to me. The lady was right!

I bought a micro-cactus to sit on that plant dish. I miss my cacti :-( So now I have a new one. Hopefully the first of many :-)

Last photo for now. We walked back from the Draught House last night where we had spent a pleasant evening with Peggy and Lloyd, introducing them to the dlights of that establishment. The lake in front of the apartments was millpond smooth, so I took this:


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Austin music

Well, the place is slowly getting straightened out. I have spent the whole week opening boxes and sorting the contents. We now have a basically functional living room with TV, DVD and sofa/chairs in generally conventional settings.

Power requirements are the biggest headache in America. We had to buy a power transformer to be able to feed our electricals with 240V. Anything that requires 50Hz is debatable but the DVD player seems to work on 60Hz, thank God. Some things have universal power supplies that take either 240V or 120V but not everything does, of course.

Friday night we went to the Draughhouse for some beer, then up to Chilis for some food. Chilis serve really huge margaritas. This one was made with blue curacao:

Saturday, we had to do a certain amount of shopping but we went down to the Old Pecan Street Arts Festival, which consists of about 300 artists/vendors, three music stages and plenty of food/drink stands. We'd come down for the arts but mainly to see the band Vallejo, a local crowd which we have become aware of. They are a rock band with a heavy dose of Latino about them and they are most excellent.
Vallejo at the Pecan Street Festival.

After Vallejo's set, we figured we would try to get into Antone's club to see Fastball, a band who we have known for a couple of years. We only found out very recently they are actually from Austin. Anyway, we saw the gig in the paper but thought there would be no tickets left. As it turned out we got straight in :-) Two minutes later, Stef arrived, whose party we'd been at the other day, so he joined us.

A couple of other bands were up first. The Mad Dukes had some good tunes but needed to polish their delivery somewhat. They were followed by Stereovolt who we enjoyed a lot. Then came Fastball. They totally rocked! They played loads of tunes that we knew and every one was top notch. They had fun doing it, too. Afterwards, they came to the front to sign CDs. We now have a shiny new signed Fastball CD :-) They were very nice chaps. The show finished with Cruiserweight who seemed very promising, but unfortunately the sound man screwed the sound so all we were getting was distortion. So we left. Got home after 1am anyway. It was a very good night.

A bit dark for my phone but here's Fastball.