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Better Oblivion Community Center Inspires at Stubbs

 Allow me to bring BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER to your attention; the folk rock duo and pals, Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. You might be familiar with Conor and his instrumental voice from his other projects; Bright Eyes, Mystic Valley River Band, Desaparecidos, Commander Venus to name a few over the years. Phoebe is relatively new on the scene, although after hearing her vulnerability shine through her music, you might think you’ve known her forever.  (A quick taste of the duo in a Billboard interview.)

On their own, both artists tote songs that could be considered “emo,” but together they create a melodic melange of satire and playful angst. If you’ve been following Conor through his musical career, you may glimpse a new side of him in this project. (Isn’t that what we love about evolving artists?) Phoebe’s youth, realness, and humility elicits a child-like joy out of Conor, and he uses every opportunity to be her biggest hype man. You can see the fun they’re having on stage, and you can hear in their lyrics (listen to: Forest Lawn @ 1:03). Both artists are equally regarded for their honest and thoughtful lyricism. Instead of inward reflection and dwelling on heavy emotions, together they’re looking out at their community and its members. Service Road paints an endearing picture of a difficult relationship with a brother figure, and likewise My City feels like it was written for Austin, but could likely be imposed on a number of big cities that feel like small towns. 

 

When BOCC stopped through Austin and Santa Fe, their roster included Lala Lala and Christian Lee Hutson. Both openers have relations with the founding members of BOCC outside of the initial community start-up. Phoebe gave Lillie West, lead singer of Lala Lala, a shout-out during her set: “Lillie told the kids in highschool to stop making fun of me. Give her another hand!” The whole ensemble rocked it. Christian Lee Hutson opened the whole show with an acoustic guitar, and subsequently appeared in all three sets playing keys and electric guitar. He’s composed and talented and humble. He plays an original song, Northsiders, with a sweet voice and provoking story-telling lyrics. The Better Oblivion Community core family co-created a cohesive show of camaraderie, good cheer, and thoughtful tunes with a touch of soft goth.

 

“Play Sleepwalking!,” hollers an audience member.

“We only have one album, so we’re definitely playing all of the songs. Sorry to spoil that for you,” Phoebe sardonically smiles back.

 

They played Sleepwalkin’, and it was great. It features fantastic bass riffs and intoxicating vocals, and asks a question I think could be assigned to my generation: “Is this having fun?

 

Conor and Phoebe took turns covering each others’ classic songs. Conor sang “Funeral,” but made it punk rock. Seriously, give this song 5 minutes of your undivided attention and feel it deeply. Then, imagine it fast-jump-up-and-down-punk-rock-amaze. When Phoebe sang his “Lua,” at the Austin show the whole crowd echoed her. (I cried…I actually cried thrice from the beginning to the end of the whole show.) The Community these two artist built was tangible and so inclusive in that moment.

 

Being vulnerable can be incredibly challenging. Artists like Phoebe and Conor make it look easy, but when you listen closely to their words and sentiments you can gather that they’ve been through some shit - like everyone else. We’re not alone. There’s a Better Oblivion Community Center that’s open and operating. Call today: +1 (785) 433 5534

 

-Mel Green





Being Dead Blesses the Family "Apostle's Prom"

 Juli Kellerand and Cody Dosier would like you to think that they've let Satan into their heart, but the the truth is much darker - they're conducting LSD-fueled experiments of friendship and musicianship under the guise of Being Dead. The early experimental data is showing a synergistic reaction that has led to the emission of druggy psych rock and hazed surf punk vapors, that are highly addictive. Idolatry, horses, twerking and medieval weaponry are themes that all flow seamlessly into the duo's video for "Apostle's Prom" which is a corrosive agent on the minds of our youth - but a positive delight for those already sporting a warped world view. The duo has released a new EP on Austin Town Hall records and will be playing on April 20th at Hole in the Wall with Duncan Fellows, The Oysters, Magic Rockers of Texas and Hi, Gene.

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Parcels Push the Envelope on Disco Hooks

 Aussies, Austinites, and enough funk bass lines to light up Studio 54 in its prime,  Parcels brought peak positivity to the Mohawk on Monday night. Daft Punk-produced and brimming with youthful exuberance, Parcels is riding a wave of musical momentum on their first American tour. The Aussie male quintet’s sound emanates from around a core sample of Beegees and KC and the Sunshine band melodies with the effervescence of contemporary synthpop and nu-disco. A cappella harmonies, great hair and a synthesized audio elixir guaranteed to make audiences dance – Parcels brought the goods from down under.

Getting the ball rolling with the slow-build of “Comedown”, Parcels introduced themselves to the crowd, and then promptly launched into the Chic-esque hit “Lightenup”. Patrick Hetherington and Jules Crommelin sat front and center onstage, orchestrating boyish smiles and head nods while crooning with soulful dexterity. “Gamesofluck” dropped suave synths over a disco-laden sea of funk with catchy vocals that accentuated the groove masterpiece.

A mid-set a cappella rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” unveiled the remarkable singing talents of the entire quintet before getting back to the dance electronica at hand. “Tieduprightnow” brought chucking guitars and jazz flutes into a tropical nirvana that had the audience twisting like Uma in Pulp Fiction, while “Everyroad” took its time to build through spoken word and rising harmonies for an orgasmic pinnacle of the Italo-disco variety.

Even during some of the more introspective tracks, the Mohawk audience was vibing along, giving the band spontaneous applause and involuntary hand claps. The sheepish grins of the quintet and genuine surprise on hearing roars of approval, exposed a band that had yet to be calloused over with expectation and road weariness.  Ending the night with their discovery song “Overnight” along with “Iknowhowifeel” and “Withorwithout” left a ravenous audience standing around for more music, long after the band had left the stage.

 

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Vision Arcade Lay Down Southern Feel-Good Rock Riffs

 A psych inspired quartet that doesn't mind embracing a Southern styled grit, Vision Arcade channels a blend of Audioslave, the Black Keys and Rival Sons. The young rock group has already scored shows at venues such as the Mohawk, Come and Take It Live!, and Emos but the release of their debut single "Afterglow", soon to be accompanied by a music video, will continue to raise their profile. The band purveys 70's influenced alt-rock with bluesy undertones and the four piece consisting of Max Robison, Rory Kendall, Connor Torres and Evan Brock are on a steady track to a larger fan base.


 

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The Most Memorable Five Moments From SXSW 2019

 Amyl and the Sniffers Doing Drugs Onstage

Lead singer, Amy Taylor, smashed her mouth on her mic at the Thrasher showcase, so she was already bleeding midway through her raucous set when she announced onstage  “I heard there was a guy in Austin who makes his own poppers and calls it Double Scorpion”  On cue, a guy in the front row holds up a bottle of poppers and invites her to sniff, and then the entire band proceeds to put down their instruments to line up and do poppers, delaying their set until they got a whiff, and then returned to said instruments and launched into the next song.

 

City Morgue Causes Bizarro Mayhem

Zillakami, one half of City Morgue, was arrested when he landed in Austin on an outstanding warrant. However, he also nearly incited a riot revving up the crowd at City Morgue’s Thrasher showcase. Moshing and stage diving left numerous fans bleeding, yet still smiling, while a dystopian crowd slammed into each other gleefully raging to the morbid trap-metal. When a fan is moshing around while holding a chucky doll, you know the scene is apocalyptic.

 

Otoboke Beaver Bull Rides A Fan

 An all-female punk band from Kyoto that attacks the crowd with their music, literally attacked a crowd member at their showcase at the Main. Their aggressive music stylings and fast-paced delivery bubbled over to where guitarist, Yoyoyoshie, jumped on to a large fan in the front row and literally rode the fan around while shredding her guitar. The fan who had the guitarist’s legs wrapped around his head seemed to be more than fine with what had happened to him.

 

Band Survivor at Dozen St.

Some cringe worthy band turmoil took place at the unofficial showcases at Dozen St. bar on the East side. Band names will be withheld to save them the embarrassment but midway through a set, a bandleader informed his guitarist that his guitar was out of tune and instructed him to tune it. The guitarist was unable to tune his own guitar and literally walked out of the venue trying to find someone to tune his guitar. Upon not being able to tune it, the lead singer told the poor guitarist to leave the stage and that he was fired. Ouch!  I was also informed by a house bartender of another firing, where a guitarist who had been playing out of key their entire show was given a lesson onstage by the lead singer, guiding his hands to the appropriate frets, until he gave up and fired the guitarist.   SXSW-harshed on two counts!

 

David Fricke Makes An Appearance

If you are a music journalist, a Rolling Stone magazine fan, or just haven’t had your head in the sand for the last fifty years – you would know the name David Fricke.  The former Rolling Stone editor and music review god suddenly materialized at the Brazilian music showcase at Lucille and jammed out to psychedelic vibes of Boogarins. The absolute legend was hanging out with Austin Chronicle cronys, Raoul Hernandez and Michael Toland. The guy who gave Cobain’s last interview, shined a light on 70’s punk and guided the world’s best rock magazine through its golden years was head nodding to the music just like the rest of us.

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