New Zealand's Cairo Knife Fight - the gang of two who wage guerilla rock warfare - made quite the impact in Austin for SXSW '12 (Official 2012 performers) and are now gracing us with their latest electrifying power rock track, "The Violence of Action."
Though the band is only comprised of two men, between the tom-tom attack of drummer/lead vocalist/bass synth man Nick Gaffaney and the blood-drenched axe work of guitarist and loop pedal genius Aaron Tokona, this duo deliver a tidal wave of complete sound that is both hallucinatory and imbued with an intense sense of urgency.
They've got the power of Zeppelin and an abject fearlessness that plants them firmly alongside Radiohead in terms of willingness to shirk boundaries. They are finalists in the "Rock Album of the Year" category of the 2011 New Zealand Vodafone Music Awards for their debut effort, Iron, and aside from their release of their follow-up Cairo Knife Fight II (in which "Origin of Slaves" and "The Violence of Action" is on), they kicked down the door to headline a triumphant CMJ music festival showcase in New York in 2011.
The New Zealand Herald calls the new album "...brilliant unhinged, hallucinatory, and riff-fired music," and Tokona insists, "The first EP was just a taste. This one sounds like we are on our way somewhere - we're taking more risks and we are way more fearless."
Be sure to check out the chest thumping, blood curdling video for "The Violence of Action" below.
Between the horrid allergies and being rundown on day #7 of my SXSW ramblings, my body started saying, "Eff you!!" No worries, though. Music is my lifeline, and it kept me going through Sunday. Friday kicked off with Blitzen Trapper at the Radio Day Stage in the Convention Center. I had never seen Portland's country/folk rockers…and they were a perfect start to the day. I loved all the people chilling on the body-size cushions, certainly reminiscent of being comfortably sprawled on the grass listening to some feel-good tunes on a beautiful springtime day (minus the pollen, sunshine and breeze).
The War on Drugs
Seeing The War on Drugs at the Moody Theatre (home to Austin City Limits) was at the top of my list for the day after having seen them the night before and being awestruck by the Philly natives. I knew they would sound phenomenal in the Moody too, which, of course, they did. It was only disappointing when the show ended. And then it was onto seeing Brooklyn's indie-pop trio Hospitality at Frank before getting in line at the Elephant Room for Austin-turned-NYC-transplant Kat Edmonson. I happened upon Edmonson a few years back when friends were in town visiting. Wanting to give them an intimate Austin music experience, I took them to our cool little underground jazz joint (yes, Elephant Room) - and there was Edmonson. That sweet voice of hers gets me every time. She's incredibly talented, as was the band backing her during SXSW. And I definitely appreciated the last song I heard that had something to do with drinking a bit too much - bubbles in her case. How appropriate for SXSW shenanigans.
Next up was Delta Spirit playing their brazillionth show of the week at Stubb's. I don't know how some of these bands do it. Honestly. I'm only running around WAY more than usual, but I'm not performing (not that I should be…if only you could hear my tone-deaf voice) show after show, hoping to garner new fans and critical acclaim. Regardless, Delta Spirit definitely did it…and I hope to see them again when they come back to Austin to play the new Emo's in April.
Last up Friday night was the rather eclectic British/Spanish electro band Crystal Fighters. I had listened to them beforehand, but I was not prepared for their dramatic and artful performance, which I found to be, for lack of a better word, weird. After splitting from that show early, I was going to try to push my way through the mad scene on 6th Street to see Alabama Shakes at Easy Tiger - and then Tea Leaf Green at the Jambase showcase - but a Car2Go was real close by. And my bed was calling in a bad way.
Big Easy Express- Premiere & Performance
My Saturday highlight - and one of my top of the fest - was the Big Easy Express premiere at the Paramount Theatre. Upon arriving, I thought there was no chance in hell I'd get in, but the guy manning the line assured those of us at the end that we'd get seats - and we surely did. Having gone to the Austin stop on the Railroad Revival Tour last year - featuring Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show - I was absolutely dying to see the film and the performance afterwards. I felt a lump forming in my throat a few times throughout the film. It really does seem like the tour of dreams, and Emmett Malloy did an excellent job capturing that on film, winning the Headliner Audience Award of the film fest. Members of all three bands performed after the showing - and being a big fan of all these bands, it was a real special experience, though a short one. I only wish I had gone to the event on the UT campus later that evening for a double feature - and a nearly two hour live performance. Damn it.
So rather than doing that (damn it, again!), I caught Sleigh Bells and Nas at Moody Theatre with a quick in-and-out of Perez Hilton's party at Austin Music Hall. Nas was about 45 minutes late taking the stage, which was souped up to the point of feeling like you were in New York City - complete with bus stop, subway station and skyline backdrop. Weed smoke wafting through the Moody (that's definitely a first in my experiences there), I left after a couple songs.
Heading back down dirty 6th (for the last time, thank gawd!), I ducked into Flamingo Cantina for the end of Grimy Styles' set. When I first started visiting Austin right before I moved here over four years ago, I saw Grimy Styles at FlamCan and fell in love. With the city. With the band. With the good vibes inside - and out - of the club. Having not seen them in awhile (I think the band is split between Austin and San Fran now), I was real happy they were in town and made the list of showcasing artists. FlamCan was packed for their show, too.
To close out Saturday night, I was determined to see Jimmy Cliff once more. After waiting in line for about a half hour outside of The Stage on Sixth, I made my way to the back patio and got as close in as I could. Unfortunately, the show didn't compare to the one I saw on Wednesday. The crowd and overall vibe kind of got under my skin. And considering Cliff had played upwards of 10 times through the week, including an appearance with Bruce Springsteen - and he's 63 - his energy was understandably lacking a bit (like mine was too). Regardless, I was happy to see him for only the second time in my life in just one week. And that was that for SXSW twenty-dozen…except for the sweet tunes of Deadeye, Austin's Grateful Dead tribute band, while chilling in the beer garden at Botticelli's on Sunday. Now that was a perfect end to nine days of spring break-y awesomeness.
The toxicology report is in. The Los Angeles County coroner's office has determined that Whitney Houston's official cause of death is "drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use."
The famous singer was found in the bathtub of her hotel room on February 11, just hours before a pre-Grammy party. She was 48 years old.
The coroner's office also reported that the manner of death was an "accident."
However, the toxicology report adds that "cocaine and metabolites were identified and were contributory to the death. Marijuana, Alprazolam (Xanax), Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) were identified but did not contribute to the death."
An autopsy was conducted the day after she died. Capt. John Kades of the Los Angeles County coroner's office said at the time there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body. Prescription pill bottles were found in her room, but the number of pills were "not in alarming amounts," said officials.
Well, another year is a wrap - and man, SXSW, you hurt so good! Kicking off in typical fashion (minus the torrential rain and colder weather) with the interactive and film portions beginning on Friday 3/9, South by Southwest 2012 drew the highest attendance record of the festival to date - and the people came to party (after business was done, of course).
After partaking in Nadia G.'s Bitchin Kitchen party at Easy Tiger on Saturday night - with open bar and free food - Austin's GSD&M held a party on Monday with, of course, an open bar as well. Motopony, Apache Relay and Heartless Bastards performed. Having fallen in love with Nashville's Apache Relay prior to the fest, I was super happy to see them live - and they definitely lived up to their hype. I was really impressed with Austin's very own Heartless Bastards (formed in Cincinnati), too, surprisingly not having seen them before this. Erika Wennerstrom's deep, raspy voice really won me over. Often drawing comparisons to The Black Keys, Heartless Bastards will certainly be seeing my face at their shows more - when they're not touring the country, that is.
For the first time ever, the official music portion of the fest began on Tuesday. After updating the OS on my iPhone - and losing all of my numbers (awesome!) - I rambled around downtown until ending up at the interactive closing party at Stubb's that night, catching M. Ward and Miike Snow. It was a great show to ease into the chaos that ensued on Wednesday, which musically began with Fiona Apple opening NPR's showcase at Stubb's. I hadn't heard much of Fiona since the "Criminal" days - and upon hearing that and a few other older songs, memories of her songs blaring at roller skating birthday parties and such brought me back to a time when I thought she was a complete and total badass. Ah nostalgia acts.
And speaking of nostalgia, perhaps seeing Jimmy Cliff at the old Emo's (temporarily named The Main) next would've sparked something of the same within me if only I had been familiar with him back in the day. Instead, I might as well have been on the beach in Jamaica grooving right then and there. That show put the biggest smile on my face and solidified me seeing him as the very last act of SXSW on Saturday.
After a brief encounter with Pujol at the Beauty Bar Backyard, next up was Pittsburgh's 1,2,3 at The Stage on Sixth. These guys really rocked their hearts out to the small crowd there. I was digging 'em, which could definitely not be said about the last band I saw on Wednesday. I had heard really good things about Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and, whoa, did they disappoint. The lead singer said he had lost his voice from playing so many shows already. Maybe it was just that, but I left soon after that show began and called it a night.
On Thursday, I happily got the heads up that Anthony Bourdain would be filming Austin's Ume at Hotel Vegas. God, does this band rock?!?! I've been meaning to catch them for awhile now, and I was honestly blown away. Lauren Larson shreds like no other chick I've seen! Seemingly sweet and innocent from her looks. she's a devil on guitar. She must get some sort of whiplash from the constant head banging too, right? Regardless, the show was stellar, and I loved taking pictures of the performance. It seems Bourdain had "No Reservations" about getting footage of Ume for his TV show…and rightfully so.
After trekking down to W. 6th for the first showcase of the night and discovering a "band" I thought I wanted to see was a DJ, I made my way to Bar 96 for YAWN. It's a terrible band name. Period. At least that's how I feel. But the Chicago natives were hardly yawntastic with their electro-psychedelic-dance music that sprinkles afro-beats in between.
I could've almost cried when I got to Jonquil's show at Latitude 30 for seriously enough time to snap an over-exposed picture before they unplugged. I caught them last year for maybe ten minutes and was really hoping for more. Oh well…SXSW 2013 I guess.
Peaking Lights was next up on the agenda if they had been on time (they actually may have never played their show at Red 7), so I was going to catch The Black Angels across the street for a quick sec - but, alas, the line was crazy long. No matter! (I met someone over the week whose rasta name that is). Onto The Mohawk for The War on Drugs, which was a HUGE highlight of the fest for me. What is it with the Philly bands that I just love?! Their distorted and melodic indie rock perfectly filled the air, sending some serious chills up my spine. I have no idea what I tried to do after that show…regardless, it was a good night and great "start" (if you can call it that considering this was day #6 of my SXSW ramblings) to the fest.