Austin Music Writing

The autumn in music

I’ve turned in my grades, which means that my semester is officially complete — a fact that has been celebrated with sushi, as all good things should be. I should be posting here more often over break, especially as I work on revising my first novel. (More about that soon.)

To begin, a recap of the shows I’ve seen this fall, in chronological order:

    1. Final Fantasy at the Parish: by far the best show of the fall (though T. might argue for Asobi Seksu or Man Man), and probably one of the most technically impressive performances I’ve seen. I wrote about it briefly here, and I’m not sure what else to add, except maybe little glittery hearts around Owen Pallett’s name. I loved this show.
    2. Sufjan Stevens at the Paramount. This was just — not affecting, I guess. Beautiful, though the visual elements of the show were silly at times, but not beautiful in any way that surpassed the experience of listening to his most recent album. Not dynamic. I felt somewhat the same way about Sigur Rós, which we saw in a similar venue last year, though their music suited the opera-hall style space better.
    3. Man Man at Emo’s. This was an anniversary present for T., who’s wanted to see them again since we saw them open for Okkervil River last fall. They were, uh, still mustachioed and crazy? Just as crazy as their music video, in fact, except with fewer images borrowed from Married to the Sea. I liked their show a lot when we saw them first, but found them less charming as a repeat concert experience, and I don’t think Emo’s was as good a venue for them as the Stubb’s indoor stage was. They had more room to play and less matter to fill it up.
    4. Beirut/Voxtrot at Emo’s. We didn’t catch all of Voxtrot; it was late, and I was tired. Plus, Voxtrot was not so great. I was there for Beirut, who were marvelous and energetic.
    5. Asoki Seksu/Mates of State at Emo’s. This concert was outdoors and FREEZING. Asobi Seksu sounded lovely, and were very — professional? I’m not sure if that’s quite the right word, but their lead singer had a delightfully no-nonsense air and a wonderful stylized voice. Mates of State were somewhat dull, or maybe that was just their song structures. Repetition annoys me, and I really don’t go for the verse/chorus/verse/chorus mode, especially when the rest of the song’s not complex. The onstage flirting between wife and husband was sweet, though I kept thinking of Oscar Wilde’s line about airing one’s clean laundry in public. They had a cute bit about encores, though, which seemed somewhat ironic after…
    6. Joanna Newsom at the Parish, just this Wednesday. Disappointing — I’d been really excited about this, because I adore Ys and much of The Milk-Eyed Mender. But the opening act (Smog) was dreadful, the show wasn’t terribly well-run, and Joanna herself wasn’t so professional. She’d already done an earlier show, and began our show by begging that she not be videotaped because she was losing her voice and she was going to be “bad.” She kept repeating this throughout the show, excusing herself for skipping songs or singing roughly (to her own ears, I guess), and then left without an encore. Aside from some hoarseness on the first two songs and a few moments in which she didn’t reach for the high notes, I wouldn’t have been able to tell, and her anxiety just made it seem as if she wanted to be elsewhere. Not the most pleasant kind of stage banter. As with Sufjan Stevens, I didn’t feel that being present for the show added much to the music as recorded.

      I find this approximately tri-weekly schedule of concerts both fun and odd, considering that I went to about six shows during my entire college career. Austin has me trained.

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