Concert Review: Howler, April 5th, Drake Hotel

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment

Of all the bands that did the usual post SXSW swing through Toronto, Howler was the only band I saw in Austin that I decided to catch on this side of the border. Their brand of no nonsense surf meets garage rock coupled with a truly entertaining live showcase in Austin got me excited. They had a certain swagger and thing about them that had me thinking they were going to be big. Seeing them at the Drake was a no brainer. Much like their songs, this review will be short and sweet.

First of all, since when did they have cell phone reception at the Drake basement? Ahhhhmazing. Howler played a solid forty minute set for the packed crowd. They showcased their two most solid skills (to this date) – short and catchy rock tracks and hilarious banter.Lead singer Jordan Gatesmith has got a good sense of humor and a certain presence on stage. It’s hard to explain. NME probably loves them already. Hit single and potential breakout anthem Back of Your Neck finished the set. It’s a great tune and sounds like a cross between a 50s greaser diner soundtrack and the Strokes. While I found their sxsw showcase to be better, Howler was still entertaining and are breathing fresh life into the whole garage rock genre.

Catch them when they come to your town. Their debut album America Give Up is out already.

SXSW: The Recap – Bests, Worsts, Etc.

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Of Monsters And Men

SXSW has come and gone. Once again, we have survived. The Panic Manual crew even did a road trip through New Orleans to Memphis after the fact to prove it. Nevertheless, it’ll be another twelve months til we hit up Austin again and so for now, we can only relive these memories.

In this engaging round-table discussion, we discussed some of our favorite things about SXSW.

Favorite SXSW Moment?

Paul: There were a few … Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire spraying the crowd with water bottles throught the entire set, while also asking the crowd at one point whether they “like vagina” (apparently they do), the sound guy at the Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social asking over the PA if there was some way to turn off the band next door (who were kind of terrible), and of course, the unique dance moves of Chairlift‘s Caroline Polachek.

Editors note: Paul will be attending Chairlift at the Horseshoe on Wednesday to witness more dancing.

Gary: When 300 ppl sang to Ben Howard‘s Old Pine in St. David’s and it reverberates like a freaking gospel church choir. Or maybe it didn’t reverb. It doesn’t matter – that’s bliss for all in attendance if I ever saw one.

Ricky: Favorite moment was probably when Jesus and Mary Chain took the stage at the Belmont and did not suck live, because I waited five hours to see them and it would have been awful to have them sound like 2012 Happy Mondays or something.

Derek: Sharing a stage with Built to Spill.

Favorite Non Lionel Ritchie Act of SXSW

Derek: Of Monsters And Men were as amazing as I had hoped they would be.

Paul: Chelsea Wolfe put out one of my favourite albums of last year. Despite a few minor sound issues, she and her band did not disappoint live. Honourable mention to Crooked Fingers, Sauti Sol, Thee Oh Sees, and the mighty Peelander-Z.

Ricky: J&MC aside, The Heavy was spectacular live. Honorable mentions goes to Escort, Clock Opera and Howler.

Gary: Dry the River and Of Monsters and Men fought to a draw. The former for a clean performance and great tracks, and the latter for the mini-tsunami of energy as well as sun-tan lotion that they brought from across the oceans.

Most Disappointing Act

Gary: 1) Lost Lander. The performance was NOT the disappointment, but the sonic differences between the awesome demo Cold Feet and their main thrust of the set at Swan Dive was a big put-off for me. 2) The most half-hearted performance would be Willy Mason and his lethargic zombie band. They practically asked to be hated.

Ricky: Ramesh and Oh See Thees. Ramesh I wanted to see, but his soundcheck was so late that I was forced to leave before he even took the stage. Ironically, I went to see the Oh See Thees, who conveniently forgot they were playing at that time. Of the bands that did play, I wasn’t overly impressed with Blouse, a hyped band that was either too tired for their Saturday night showcase or just don’t have any stage presence.

Paul: Waiting way too long for Nachtmystium to set up their many instruments, then getting bored and bailing before they played their Thursday afternoon set at Elysium. Probably not their fault, but I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to check out some black metal at SXSW. I’m also slightly disappointed with myself for eating Taco Bell in Austin while surrounded by much better tacos. But still, it was free!

Derek: Disappointed that we couldn’t see Ramesh perform due to problems with the venue/equipment.

Breakout Acts

Derek: Ed Sheeran was a real surprise. I expected a skinny, folksky ginger – instead we were treated to wicked freestyling and beat boxing.

Paul: Of Monsters And Men

Gary: Ed Sheeran. Blew our knickers off with a riotous hip-hop gig – let’s hope his new found form is what the American consumers need.

Ricky: Of Monsters and Men is a popular pick, but I’ll go on a limb and say Howler are primed for big things.

Another year, another great festival. See you next year.

SXSW Review: Of Monsters and Men, Ed Sheeran [Cedar Street Courtyard, March 16, 2012]

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Austin, TX – If you have ever read anything from our SXSW rants you would certainly know about Cedar Street Courtyard. It’s apparently where we go to get lessons in melodramatic, hyperbolic writing. Forget about the fact that the venue is between two brick walls and staged on a plot of land the size of some Toronto backyards. Also try to ignore the intense and at times combative security, the contrast between us (read: the “tremendously arrogant“) on a balcony and you (read: the “woefully unfortunate”) jostling for space in the trenches or perhaps in the long cue outside. (My dear boy, if I could convince someone to spend $1500 on me and get away from work for a week without retribution from my boss, I would be a tremendously poor candidate for your laissez faire usage of the word “arrogant” – as it is, I’m just tremendously poor). Along with that-dive-bar-which-should-remain-unknown, this has been our SXSW backyard since I first climbed up the sound guy’s trolley 4 years ago.

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

Filter’s line-ups have always been favorites among PM writers and photographers (read: me, Ricky, Derek and Paul) at Southby. But these guys/gals from Reykjavik really absorbed something from the place; maybe the sun? If someone blended Iceland with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, they’d get something lesser than this 6 piece bundle of red bull. Apparently, they joked with Derek that they are starting from SPF 50 and working their way up. One look at the photos and you’ll see that the audience agreed – the vocals playfully asked for sunglasses during the set.

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

At the risk of sounding dismissive, Of Monster and Men are a bit more folky and melancholy than Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Their demo song Little Talks does sound like the latter group in composition – quiet verses, riotous chorus inter-mixed with “HEY” shouts on a catchy melody. Thankfully, that wasn’t the bottom of the trick-bag. They made very good use of their vocals – both have bright, distinct sounds that are betrayed by appearances. I admit being surprised when they opened . Being 6 persons, accordions and trumpets were also interspersed, and added to the . Besides the demo song, I’d also recommend King and Lionheart, as well as Six Weeks, which I believe was the swan song on this occasion. Judging from this set, if their tour path coincides with your geographical location, it would be a shame if you missed them.

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown


Ed Sheeran
This is what we thought Ed Sheeran sounded like from our brief survey before the show. A 21-year old who sings slightly twisted, modern, forlorn love songs that cater to teenagers. Easy. Ricky went elsewhere, me and Derek stayed upstairs on the balcony, initially, gawking like idiots.

Ed Sheeran, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

And this is what he actually sounds like. Beatbox, overlays and hip-hop? Is that an Irish or a Jamaican accent in that rap? Well, we were massively impressed. So was the crowd – he was able to work up the entire courtyard. It was a short set, however, last less than 30 min. Ed Sheeran literally repeated that linked performance on youtube, live, plus orange mic. It feels a LOT longer than the 5 minutes clocked on youtube. Besides being impressed, however, I think I had an additional condition: I was confused. If I was thrice older and the adjective “massive” describes internal bleeding, I would… be dead? Get black poop for 3 straight days? Look like I had an episode of domestic elder-abuse? I don’t know – just like how I’m now confused when asked to blur the difference between hip-hop and Idol-type sugary love songs into one person. What’s my verdict? By all means check him out! Don’t be like us un-suspecting, naive, disconnected curmudgeons. Should you have teenage daughters, please take care not to stand between them and his concerts – you might end up like the wall in those cat-treats commercials.

Ed Sheeran, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

SXSW Review: Alice Russell and the Quantic, March 16

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

With a smoky voice and a bluesy disposition, Alice Russell is the latest voice from England poised to take over the charts stateside. Positioned as the older, seen it all version of Duffy/Adele, Alice Russell played a stellar set at the Parish with a great backing band that included the Quantic, a famous musician based out of Columbia.

While Alice Russell doesn’t necessarily bring anything completely original to the bluesy loungey singer template, she’s got a powerful voice and a cheery demeanor. As we now know via the singing reality shows, a great voice can go a long way. Tracks like “I’ll keep a light in my window” sounded great as Alice put her massive for all to see . The backing band was also pretty good, and featured some talented musicians in the violin and horns. Seems like all backing bands for soul singers always wear dress shirts/vests/newsboy caps. Why is that? They also seem to like each other more than rock bands. Maybe they are just calmer individuals.

Alice Russell might not bring anything new in this soul singer timeless genre, she’s got a great voice and has a good vibe. Sometimes that’s all you need.