Friday, March 16, 2012

SXSW Thursday Report

Bonaparte at the Dog & Duck
Thursday was a great day for rock 'n' roll spectacle at South by Southwest. Though most of the music I listen to -- be it rock, country, blues or whatever, is performed by artists with come-as-you-are fashion sensibilities, sometimes it's fun to see a full-blown costume party on stage.

That was certainly the case with a German band called Bonapart, who played an afternoon party organized by Saustex label of San Antonio. They were already in to their set when I arrived and I couldn't believe what I was seeing on stage. There was a guy in a horse costume. One of the guitarists had a mask that looked like a  terrorist  gorilla (that's correct -- not guerrilla.) The keyboardist, to quote the Bonzo Dog Band,  had "a head on him like a rabbit.." A woman with a Plasmatics-style Mohawk was charging out from the stage into the audience.

Several costume changes ensued during the next few songs.

The music was frantic and hard driving. I liked it well enough to buy a CD (My Horse Likes You) -- though on first listen it's not nearly as exciting as what I heard on stage.

Pinata Protest
Bonaparte was followed  by Pinata Protest, a San Antonio band I've described as a Chicano version of The Dropkick Murpheys. (They do a fantastic punk version of "Volver, Volver") I saw them last summer in Espanola, where their opening act was The Imperial Rooster. (Here's a video of one of their songs from that show.)

Although the German crazies was a hard act to follow, Pinata did the job. At the Dog & Duck show, I heard some songs I hadn't heard them do before, including a cover of "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam" originally done by The Vaselines, but made famous by Nirvana.)

Although the German crazies was a hard act to follow, Pinata did the job.

I guess Thursday was Saustex day for me. After the D&D party, I went to the label's official showcase at a downtown club called Karma. Unlike my bad experiences from the night before, I was able to get in by paying a cover charge -- an incredible $5.

Glambilly had just started its set when I walked in. This is a San Antonio trio that infuses a basic cowpunk sound with a New York Dolls style glam-rock sound.

Michella the Fire Eater
Glambilly concentrated on tunes from their album White BBQ Sauce, including a blazing version of "I Must Be the Devil." (I'm not kidding about "blazing." the performance was aided by a beautiful dancer/ fire-eater, who provided some real "glam."

Glambilly was extremely tight. My only complaint is that they didn't do their cover of Bob Wills' "Stay All Night."
A San Francisco punk band called The Grannies followed. This was the second great costume-party band I heard Thursday. The members appeared on stage in granny drag -- bad wigs and even worse dresses.

And their show was downright feral. The singer frequently charged out into the audience to get the moshing started.

But the set was way too short. Apparently some technical problem caused them to start 15 minutes or so after they were supposed to. Oh well, they were fun while they lasted.

The last act I saw was The Hickoids, the band fronted by Saustex owner Jeff Smith and one of the first real-live cow-punk bands of the 1980s.

The group includes Santa Fe punk hero Tom Trusnovic (Monkeyshines, The Floors, Blood Drained Cows, 27 Devils Joking).

When they played in Santa Fe last year, Tommy was playing drums with The Hickoids. However, he's since switched to acoustic guitar. The band was bigger than the one that played at The Underground (Evangelos' basement). At one point they had four guitars blaring on the stage.

As always they were loud, funny, obscene and rocking. They even make Elton John's '70s clunker "Bennie & The Jets" sound exhilarating.
The Hickoids ponder the Universe.

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