SXSW Review: Men Without Hats, Club DeVille, March 19

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 5 Comments

Men Without Hats

Austin – Men Without Hats was undoubtedly one of the most unique shows I have ever went to. Now for some background, Men Without Hats are a Canadian 80s new wave band that gained popularity with hit singles The Safety Dance and Pop Goes The World. You have heard those songs before. They were the headliners for NXNE‘s showcase in Austin, at a nice and late time of 1 am.

My pure interest in attending this showcase was just to hear The Safety Dance and also, to just say that I saw them. I’m sure a small minority at Club Deville were in that group. As I soon found out, the majority of the people at the show were big Men Without Hat fans who I suspect have been waiting awhile to see these guys.

Starting about ten minutes past one, Men Without Hats lead singer came on stage to a rapturous applause. Dressed in a leather hat and wearing those weird sunglasses that I thought only Bono wore, the rather well tanned Ivan Doroschuk looked like he just stepped out of his house in Fort Lauderdale for the show.

The mostly way over 30 crowd didn’t care. They were putty in this man’s hands. It became pretty apparent that most people here knew lyrics to all the songs and with Ivan Doroschuk’s baritone voice, pointed deliveries and classic rock star stage moves, the atmosphere quickly got festive.

One woman fan appeared to be the time of her life. Probably in her early forties, I am sure that she had waited her whole life to see this band. She had also secured one of the few chairs available in Club Deville and so at the start of the show, she was comfortably sitting. However with the first strings of the first song, her excitement was unstoppable and she had to get up. There she threw her first awkward double fist pump, yet for most of the song, despite wanting to get closer to see her heroes, she would only stray a few inches from her chair, not wanting to lose such a valuable resource. “What if I had to sit? I’m old and it’s 1am!” she must have thought. However, as Men Without Hats played what I suppose to be hit after hit, the woman got more and more excited and probably thought “fuck it” and abandoned the chair in favor of rushing to the front of the stage. It was quite heartwarming to see music give people such an excitable rush. My photographer Derek then took the chair.

Okay back to the show, obviously I am unaware of any Men Without Hats songs besides the two I mentioned. The crowd was loving it all though. When the opening beats of the Safety Dance emerged, people just lost it. They started doing the wave and even Ivan did it. At this point, I fully realized how it would feel to be on board those classic rock boat cruises that are thrown together once in awhile. I was on that rock cruise. Obviously the song inspired a singalong and also… wait for it… a CONGA line! Seriously. It was kind of amazing. Pop goes the world ended the set and I am pretty sure you couldn’t find a happier group of concert goers that night.

1. Jumpin Jack Flash (Rolling Stone Cover)
2. Moonbeam
3. Antarctica
4. I Got The Message
5. Living in China
6. Safety Dance
7. Pop Goes The World

8. I Like

Safety dance from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

SXSW Review: Spinto Band, March 16, Red Eye Fly

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

Austin – What happens when you mix a kazoo, quirky humor, 60s inspired melody and a six piece band? You get The Spinto Band, a band that originally caught my interest in 2005 with their amazing sounding single Oh Mandy off their album Nice and Nicely Done. Following that album, the band kind of fell off my radar a little bit. With an impending release in 2011 (and first in three years), the Delaware band played a short but stellar 25 minute set at Red Eye Fly that figures to reintroduce music fans to the group.

I’ve always enjoyed the Spinto Band and the short set reminded me how much I like their blend of indie pop. It’s catchy, humorous and I like the bands usage of different vocalists and instruments (including the kazoo and the banjo). While their stage presence remains almost non existent (they just stand and play), once in awhile one of them will jerk around and make some awkward movement that makes you smile for some reason.

Like all good SXSW showcases, the set felt rather short but it ended with Oh Mandy, one of the best pop songs you will hear.

“Oh Mandy” by The Spinto Band by spardow

SXSW Review: Ringo Deathstarr, March 18, Easy Tiger

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

ringo deathstarr

Austin – This show was an illustration of what a band will do when many things go wrong at their SXSW showcase set.  Austin shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr had a promising start to their set and then came the sound problems.  First a few crackles, then some of their gear apparently stopped working, then the frustration, anger, then finally an act of deperation as Elliott Frazier resorted to singing Snow’s Informer a capella.  Or was that an act of genius?  I’m not sure.  Probably genius.

You could see the frustration grow as the band struggled to fix things.  It was stop and go throughout, but when it did work, it was gloriously noisy, solid shoegaze.  They’ve got a really good sound and I’d love to see them play a proper set when everything isn’t going wrong.  They soldiered on for awhile, but the breaking point may have been when the can of beer Frazier set on his amp fell off due to the vibrations.  As he stood in spilled beer, he chugged the remaining beer and tossed the can into the audience, pegging one unfortunate guy in the head with it.  I get why he felt like doing that, but it was still a bit of a dick move.  But hey, at least he didn’t punch a woman.

SXSW Review: The Vaccines, March 17,18, Cedar Courtyard/Stubbs

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The Vaccines

Austin – I have now seen The Vaccines three times now in their extremely short time of existence. Something about their retro sounding garage punk rock keeps me coming back. I don’t even know how to categorize them properly, they have some punk elements, but their melodies also take a lot of influence from 60s era pop bands. Take the guitar lick from Wreckin Bar, for instance, while the rest of the track sounds like some good Ramones cover, that guitar lick almost belongs in a greaser 50s diner jukebox. It’s the nice meld of multiple genres of music that has everyone excited about this band and as a result, the trio played a host of shows at SXSW, including Filter’s party at the Cedar Courtyard and Spin’s party at Stubbs. Coincidentally, I was there for both.

When I first saw the Vaccines in Toronto, the experience left me unimpressed. The band either seemed uninterested or unmotivated. Seeing them twice in two days, I can chalk that Toronto experience to a bad day. The Vaccines I saw in Austin was a tight, confident rock band and with standout tracks like Post Breakup Sex and Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), they have reason to be confident. With set times of 15 and 18 minutes, I almost think the Vaccines should go home and write more songs so the next time they are in town not because their current selection of tracks isn’t good, but because I don’t want them to finish their set by the time I took three sips of my beer.

The Vaccine’s debut record What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is out on May 31st

The Vaccines – Post Break-Up Sex by UniversalMusicPublishing