Saturday, January 16, 2010

Free-cap: Free Week 2010 videos

Okay, I meant to go out way more than I did during this year's Free Week. But my girlfriend moved to Austin on New Year's Eve, and we spent lots of time unpacking and organizing and whatnot. And frankly, I would've felt like a world-class douche if I spent every night of her first week as an Austinite going out without her. Because of her 8-5, she can't be a night owl like yours truly.

But I did go out just enough to get some interesting bands on video with my new pocket HD camera. It's an able, though not ideal, replacement for my dead Sony HD Handycam. Note to anyone in the market for a thousand-dollar video camera: The Sony HC9 lasted me about 15 months from the day I bought it new to the day it died. C'mon, Sony. Really?! I won't be buying another.

Austin has an emerging genre I'd like to call saxcore. Along with We The Granada, we have bands like Muchos Backflips and The Gospel Truth who play loud, spazzed-out rock that jams and uses lots of saxophone for a jazzy yet vertigo-inducing effect. These bands are distinct but share a similar Mike Patton/John Zorn chaotic feel. We The Granada also has a bit of Mars Volta and The Locust in their sound. The light show is a nice touch. They have a band member whose sole job is to control the lights.

I didn't know a damned thing about this band. They were a random Free Week discovery. I think every indie band in Austin that plays with an indifferent expression and stiff limbs should be forced to go to more punk-rock shows. Austin's got lots of good ones. And the energy-above-all ethos that fuels punk is what makes it such an appealing genre. I get tired of indie shows with bands who look bored with their own music while they're on stage. Indie, take a cue from punk: The crowd will only enjoy the show as much as the band appears to be enjoying it.

This band spawned around the time every band in town wanted to be a glorified Joy Division or Gang of Four cover band. But The Always Already always kept my attention with solid, energetic performances and slight, refreshing departures from the genre they based their sound on. It was like '80s UK post-punk mixed with old-school hip-hop and electro touches. Unfortunately, The Always Already are no more. They're scheduled to play their last show ever February 27 at Beauty Bar. Bassist Louis Lemuz has a new band called Love at 20, which I really reeeaally like.

Remember two paragraphs ago when I talked about lifeless indie bands? Sorry, Planet Rye Co., but you're kinda flirting with that boundary. The lead singer has alright energy, but the dude playing the tambourine with the lifeless expression is kinda what I'm talking about. Same goes for the bassist. Don't get me wrong... I've seen much worse than this band, but still. Stage presence is horribly underrated in the indie-rock world. When you go to as many shows as I do, it gets old sitting through bands who look like it's a chore to play live. What's the deal?

Remember when I was talking about saxcore a few paragraphs ago? This is one of those bands. I don't know what to make of this style. I don't know if I love it or just kinda like it, but it's still intriguing to me. I'd like to see more live Gospel Truth.

What's in the water down in the Valley? Lots of hip indie bands are sprouting up in the RGV. Melodic rockers In Situ Sound join Dignan and others as examples of the Valley's burgeoning indie music scene. This band is young, but they've got potential. I just wish I would've gotten footage of the large-sounding instrumental jam they played before this song.

Watch videos at the 'NITES Facebook fan page.