If you’re in Austin this week you’re gonna smell a lot of smoke. Some from cigarettes and pot, plenty from BBQ, and a shit-ton from hipster d-nozzles blowin’ smoke up your ass about their favorite crappy buzz band. Granted, there’ll be hidden gems galore. That’s how SXSW works. However, with champeenship rock ‘n’ roll out of vogue these days, a handful of those gems will be hidden in plain sight on Tuesday at the Hole In The Wall, one of Austin’s diviest, rockinest bars. And woe be to you if you choose to miss it. Let’s take a look at the principals, with my best approximation of set times and sample songs included.
8:00 – Bremen Riot (Mike Nicolai fronting Grand Champeen)
DO NOT FUCKING MISS THIS SET!!!!
Grand Champeen has pretty much been my favorite rock band since first hearing them in 2001 and Mike Nicolai (pictured right) is a lyrical genius who serves as the Bremen Riot’s frontman. Back in the day (early-to-mid 2000s), I saw Mike play a half-dozen solo gigs where the room kinda swallowed him up. However, a curious thing happened after first hooking up with Champeen in 2003. Maybe it was the luxury of having Austin’s best band backing him up, but the combo brought out his inner David Lee Roth. I haven’t had a chance to hear the new tunes they’ve worked up, but I can’t imagine it being anything less than badass. Seriously, don’t miss this set or you will forever be hipster sploosh.
Bremen Riot – Surveillance
8:30 – Romantica
Haven’t heard these guys, but they’re from Minneapolis (like Nicolai) and have drawn comparisons to Ryan Adams, Wilco, and Van Morrison (because the lead dude is from Ireland). So there ya go.
9:00 – Militant Babies*
Militant Babies are an Austin band who didn’t play out all that much, even in their mid-’00s prime. Their sound is angular, kind of in the spirit of the Minutemen, and when his fires are properly stoked, Geoff Lasch is a treat to watch play guitar. Besides, any band who’d write a song in honor of longtime St. Louis Cardinals southpaw, Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky, has my vote.
Militant Babies – Al
9:30 – The Mighty Deerlick*
The Lick are a Milwaukee punk band whose heyday was the late ’80s and early ’90s. Co-founder Dan Franke moved to Austin in 2005 and apparently convinced his old homeboys to come down to Austin for some merrymaking. This should be the point of the evening where the cheap Lone Star pitchers start taking effect.
* FYI, I’ve seen lineups with Militant Babies playing first and others with Mighty Deerlick first. I guess you’ll find out when you get there.
10:00 – Li’l Cap’n Travis
The Cap’n (pictured right) is a longtime Adios Lounge fave who bring their lazy, hazy pop harmonies to the Hole. I said of them in August 2009 (and see no reason to change this opinion), “In an odd way, they remind me of a pop-friendly Neil Young with The Stray Gators, especially in their wobbly harmonies and keening steel sound. However, instead of being fueled by heroin, tequila, and wailing dissonance, the Cap’n vibe is more Brill Building, Brian Wilson, and ‘Hey bro, pass me a fish taco.'”
Li’l Cap’n Travis – 3.2 Beer Of Love
10:45 – Vulture Whale
These Birmingham, Alabamians blew me away after hearing the first notes on their buzzsaw 2009 album, Vulture Whale. For the record, this is different from their other self-titled album, released in 2007. I expect them to bring swaggering rock, with hints of nuevo wavo, culminating in the mighty “Land It.” When this epic set-closer goes down, if you aren’t bro-hugging your homiez and downing tequila shots, you’re doing it wrong.
Vulture Whale – Land It
11:30 – Grand Champeen
It’s been a few years since Grand Champeen was bringing the rock on a regular basis, but if you think this show will be a paint-by-numbers affair, then you don’t know the ‘Peen. I’m seriously bummed I can’t be in Austin for this set alone. You scientists with your “teleportation devices” and “collapsing wormholes” disappoint me. But, if you buy the band some shots and say they’re from LD, then it’ll be like I’m front and center where I should be. I give you the “Adios Lounge Rock Your Face Off Guarantee” and Glossary, who’s set to close, better bring their A game. Otherwise, this show could end in fisticuffs and police activity … and that’s just the women!
Grand Champeen – Different Sort Of Story
12:45 – Glossary
My love for Champeen aside, Glossary has really come into their own as rock ‘n’ roll heavyweights and they deserve to close this gig. Feral Fire was one of the best albums of 2010, The Better Angels Of Our Nature was one of the best albums of 2007, and oh by the way, Joey Kneiser’s solo dealio, The All-Night Bedroom Revival, was quietly one of the best releases of both 2009 and 2010. Glossary is legit. There’ll be times you’re reminded of Thin Lizzy, other times of Neil Young, and if you’re not in love with Kelly Kneiser by the end of their set — and this holds true for men and women — your only excuse is that you’re passed out in the bathroom in a puddle of your own shame. For a week that is really and truly rock ‘n’ roll boot camp, this show will be an early test of your mettle. Your heavy mettle, that is. Word.
Glossary – Lonely Is A Town
Romantica is a very solid alt country band. You will like them.
I can't go to SXSW, but I'm glad you can and that you blog about it. it is the next best thing. a distant distant second to being there, but nonetheless, better than nothing. thanks
Actually, I can't make SX this year, but I'm previewing a couple shows (the next one should be up later today) because I know they're gonna be badass. I consider it a public service.