Last week singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins made her first US tour stop in Austin at Antone’s Nightclub. The reinvented legendary blues club was the ideal spot for the chanteuse to umm… reinvent herself as a neo-soul singer in support of her Mowtown-esque new record, Goodnight Rhonda Lee. The first time you hear Atkins sing you know her voice is special. We thought so the first time we caught the singer sporting a moody indie-rock vibe and working out of Brooklyn (she’s from New Jersey). But seeing the woman sing in a format that features her voice was truly special. Folks walking by on Fifth Street heard her singing and impulsively purchased tickets. Yeah, her pipes are truly golden.
After an impressive two-man performance by The Midnight Stroll, a sober and genial Atkins and her Nashville-based band took the stage and presented songs from all four of her albums. She rolled out new single co-written with Chris Isaac, A Little Crazy early in the set showing off her Patsy Cline chops. The song features her velvety voice like it should. Another stand-out tune was a cover of Bowie’s Heroes. We’ve seen the song played by a number of artists since the legendary rocker’s death but none surpass the emotion lent to it by Atkins.
The old-school, early 60s vibe of title track to the new record felt like a crowd-pleaser too. A glance around the room revealed a fairly age-diverse crowd of music fans all with big smiles as she worked through the tune with a great band.
We spoke to her guitarist Stephen who mentioned the band had just gotten back to the States after a whirlwind European tour. He said he was happy to be in Austin as he’s from Texas but now works out of Nashville as producer and touring musician. He was excited about the upcoming American leg of the tour despite jet lag and fatigue. It’s that much fun to tour with Atkins according to the affable musician.
The road ahead looks rosy for Nicole Atkins. The one-time drinker has tamed her demons, gotten married, moved to Nashville and put out a fantastic new record that allows the listener to better hear the amazing talent that lay in her voice. The indie rock recordings she’s made are better than good, she wouldn’t have such a devoted fan base without putting out quality material, but the new direction has given her a fresh stage presence and vitality while Atkins shed’s her bad girl Rhonda Lee persona for a more stabile, happier future.
Atkins continues her tour in San Francisco, followed by dates in Portland and Seattle. The nearly non-stop schedule ends in South Carolina next April.
Tonight is the kickoff party for Saturnalia Festival in Austin. Naturally we were just as curious as you as to what Saturnalia means but the lineup comprised of mostly national and local psych-rock, alternative and world music standouts is worth checking out. We think it’s a cannot miss scenario for local music fans. Austin acts Golden Dawn Arkestra, The Octopus Project, Hard Proof, Christian Bland (The Black Angels), Money Chicha, Annabelle Chairlegs, Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) and Ringo Deathstarr will join out-of-town performers Allah-Las, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts, American Sharks and Sam France (Foxygen) at four locations in Austin. View the entire lineup on the festival site or poster.
The Electric Church and Hotel Vegas will host pre-parties tonight and December 1 (tomorrow). The actual festival will take place Saturday and Sunday at Webberville Road Baptist Church and the adjacent Sahara Lounge. By the way, Saturnalia is a traditional Roman holiday that celebrates the coming Winter while honoring Saturn. We don’t really need an excuse to enjoy a lineup this good but we’re happy organizers have put in the effort to book the event during a time of year when there’s typically not much going on in the local live music scene.
The Sahara Lounge and The Electric Church folks have partnered on this event to bring fans this out-of-box, small-format festival lineup oozing with talent. It doesn’t fix the fact that SOS Festival was cancelled last minute but it certainly helps ease the pain. What’s more, the festival has hired light show masters Bob Mustachio (The Black Angels), Esther Wave, Fever Dream, Astral Violet and Weird Destiny to accompany the talent at four locations in Austin over the entire four days of festival performances.
Food vendors include Eastside Kings, Southside Flying Pizza, Juiceland, Wunder Pilz, Archie Dove BBQ, Pakal, Neon Rainbow and Laced With Romance. There are plenty of trailer and sit-down retaurant options near all four venue sites as well. Check Eater Austin’s East Austin page for dining recommendations.
Tickets to Saturnalia Festival are still available. The VIP option includes access to a climate-controlled Saturnalia Lounge. Fans have the option to purchase an a four-day or daily wristband. Tickets to individual shows can be purchased “a la carte” directly from venues in advance or at the door. Grab tickets here.
Thursday, Nov 30th – The Electric Church
12-Christian Bland and The Revelators 11-The Nymphs 10-Trance Farmers
New Jersey songstress, Nicole Atkins returns to Austin Thursday at Antone’s Nightclub in support of her new record, Good Night Rhonda Lee that takes a sharp turn away from her indie-pop sound to a traditional soul recording complete with Fort Worth’s Niles City Sound Team who turned Leon Bridges into an overnight sensation. The Midnight Stroll (Aaron Behrens of Ghostland Observatory) and Thayer Serrano open the show.
Atkins’ new approach to her music spotlights the singer’s golden pipes which lay somewhat obscured by the indie-rock slant of her last album, 2014’s Slow Phaser. After being married, moving to Nashville (from NYC) and getting sober, Atkins found the material she was writing was deeply personal and introspective. She found the ideal vehicle for those compositions in Soul and R&B. The genres magnify her considerable vocal talent. It doesn’t hurt to have friends like Chris Isaak to lend a hand collaborating on the lead track, A Little Crazy after encouraging her to change her musical style,
“Atkins, you have a very special thing in your voice that a lot of people can’t or don’t do. You need to stop shying away from that thing and let people hear it.” -Chris Isaak
Listeners will identify the song as an instant classic, highlighted by vulnerable lyrics and Atkins’ apologetic tone for revealing the raw emotions swirling around her transition to a sober lifestyle, marriage and a new home. Frankly we’re eagerly anticipating how well the song translates to the Antone’s stage. The legendary Blues emporium is a the ideal spot to introduce a Soul record that takes the listener back to the Motown pop of the 1960s.
Atkins is doing it right. She hired the hottest soul producers (and musicians) in the country to back her in Joshua Block, Austin Jenkins and Chris Vivion. We suspect her newfound personal clarity will take an already seasoned and entertaining performer with an established, devoted fanbase and transform the singer into the kind of performer that gains new fans who marvel at the intimacy and emotional impact of her shows. Listening to Goodnight Rhonda Lee reveals her potential for greatness. Those may seem like heady words but if you watched Atkins’ Roadies clip above you’ll find it difficult to refute that bold claim. The album title is both a farewell to the singer’s older, self-destructive incarnation and an introduction to her new approach to making music.
Tickets are still available from the Antone’s website. Grab them before they’re sold-out. This show is one you’re going to be glad you attended.
Fans of Deer Tick may have not known what to do with the roots rockers’ latest release, companion albums, Deer Tick Vol 1 & 2. The first is an all acoustic effort and the latter rocks out like 2009’s Born on Flag Day. The band never takes itself too seriously as the album art suggests. Their 2017 issue is no exception. The artwork on the cover of the new records are ketchup and mustard to signal the records go together. Tomorrow evening, the boys from Providence return to the Mohawk to present the new material in the wake of John McCauley’s (lead vocalist and guitarist) sobriety and new family. Always a compelling live act, Deer Tick have clearly transitioned from a party band into something more.
Expect separate acoustic and electric sets as the albums are presented if you head to this show (and you should). McCauley has lived with inevitable comparisons to Kurt Cobain (he looks like him). He’s even embraced the similarities, playing Nirvana covers under the moniker, Deervana. The stringy-haired singer tends to look and sound like (raspy voice) a musical train-wreck a la Cobain as well. Knowing he’s sobered up and righted his life leaves us both apprehensive and excited about tomorrow’s show.
McCauley is now married with a child. The new domestic arrangement seems to have tempered the volatile performer. We’re just thankful his relative peace still produces beautiful music as his band transitions from beer-soaked party band into something more substantial. McCauley has always been a good songwriter but his newfound clarity has produced poetic lyrics as in opening track, “Sea of Clouds.”
“Somewhere in a fog/Of a million pleasantries/I kept my secret safe inside,” whines McCauley.
He reminds listeners although he’s righted his personal life, demons still haunt the singer as he navigates his new life. The tone of the two records is cautiously optimistic, a sea-change from Deer Tick’s previous release, Negativity (2013) that focused on the trials of addiction and hardship. The rest of the songs are a great listen too. If you didn’t click the link to grab some new Deer Tick flavor, we suggest backing up a minute and taking a listen. We’re certain you’ll be glad you did. After all, it is a rare contemporary musical act that knows exactly who they are and seem comfortable with that. Deer Tick’s authenticity is one that has served them well. We’re glad to see McCauley and the rest of the group has kept artistic integrity in place while expanding his musical boundaries.
Tickets are still available, grab some from the Mohawk website and join in the fun this weekend.
By the time Spoon got on the Stubb’s BBQ Stage last Friday several articles had been published about their show stopping set at Austin City Limits Music Festival the previous weekend. The beloved Austin act reaffirmed their status as Austin’s favorite indie rock band once again. This time is was in a headlining slot at the festival which Spoon hadn’t played yet. Britt Daniel and company stole the spotlight from headliners Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Chance the Rapper.
Friday evening’s show was more of a celebration of that joyous homecoming with three thousand of their friends on a familiar stage. The tone of the performance was lighter and more relaxed as opposed to the fierceness the band attacked the ACL Fest set with. The music was just as compelling. An expanded 20-song setlist (the same used on this tour) allowed the band to delve into deeper cuts over the 90 minute performance. Beast and Dragon Adored, My Mathematical Mind and Rainy Taxi appeared in the setlist amid fan favorites, I Turn My Camera On, Don’t You Evah, Don’t Make Me a Target and The Underdog.
The four-song encore included the title track from this year’s “Hot Thoughts” followed by a a blistering Rent I Pay. Spoon is performing at the top of their game which is no small statement considering Daniel and drummer Jim Eno have been at it 24 years. There’s a sense of renewal in the energy that comes from the group these days. It is as if newish keyboard/guitarists Alex Fischel and Gerardo Larios have changed the group dynamic to the benefit of the band amid a particularly fruitful writing period for Daniel and Eno in the past four years.
Spoon continue touring through the end of the year with four more U.S. dates left before heading to Europe then swinging back stateside. If you live in one of these cities, do yourself a favor and go experience Spoon at peak performance level.
Next week the 16th edition of Austin City Limits Music Festival (October 6-8 and 13-15) kicks off with a new slate of headliners. Jay-Z, Solange, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Killers will all make appearances at Austin’s Zilker Park amid a cacophony of exciting acts listed in the middle of the bill. While it’s a no-brainer to catch top hip-hop artist Jay-Z on the opening night of the festival, there are plenty of homegrown acts and buzz bands you should add to your schedule. It’s the bands scheduled earlier in the day and on peripheral stages that offer a chance at real music discovery. With nearly 200 acts slated to perform, finding new bands to fall in love with should be a priority for true music fans.
Yes, like everyone else we want to know if Beyonce will make an appearance. After all, her husband, Jay-Z and sister, Solange are both playing the festival. It is probable the current queen of pop will be there. Will she appear on stage? That is the big question festival ticket holders are asking. There’s so much more to the event which will feature Austin-bred acts Spoon, The Black Angels, Lukas Nelson, Mobley and The Wild Now at the festival this year.
Find a break-down the first weekend of the festival listed by day and learn which acts still have Late Night Show tickets available below. Our focus is on Austin bands because these local artists make some of the best independent music in the country along with a few bands that should be on your radar we think you’ll like.
Included in the list of recommendations are links to official Austin City Limits Music Festival Late Night Shows. Grab tickets to those performances for a less crowded, headliner version of each artist’s festival set.
Friday, October 6
The Wild Now – Miller Lite Stage – 11:45 a.m.
The Wild Now, an Austin duo comprised of vocalist, Taylor Baker and guitarist, Drew Walker make their first ACL Fest appearance first thing on Friday. While listening to Baker sing beautiful pop melodies along with Walker’s impressively intricate guitar work you’ll notice the couple is also easy on the eyes. Not a bad way to kick of the festival in our humble opinion.
If you’re one of those folks who set up camp chairs when the gates open, posting up at Miller Lite for the day might be a good way to go. Besides catching these up and comers, the Barton Springs Beer Hall is adjacent to the Miller Lite stage. Willie Nelson’s son Lukas and his band play later in the day before petulant indie songwriter, Ryan Adams.
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real – Miller Lite Stage – 5:15 p.m.
How good is Lukas Nelson and POTR? They were Neil Young’s backing band on his 2014 tour and album. Nelson is the Willie Nelson offspring most like his father in terms of musical ability. That doesn’t mean he’s the next outlaw country star. The guitarist likes to play Americana-tinged rock with abandon, often leaping into to the air with his axe. After ten years of POTR he knows how to entertain an audience. He’s also got decent pipes like his iconic father.
You’re going to thank us for this recommendation later, especially after you learn his ACL Festival Late Night Show at Antone’s Nightclub on October 11 already sold-out.
Bonobo – Tito’s Vodka Stage – 6:15 p.m.
After watching Lukas hype up the crowd, you’ll be ready to get your dance on with DJ Bonobo doing a full live set at the Tito’s Vodka Stage. While we’ve seen Bonobo perform solo, we’re excited about the cutting edge DJ’s full band performance. Bonobo’s given name is Simon Green. Green got noticed with his second album “Dial M for Monkey” (2002) becoming one of the “new downtempo pioneers” in the process. We’re curious how the live arrangement will play in a sundowner festival setting. Betting it’s going to be a crowd pleaser.
Fans have a second chance to catch this London-born, LA-based DJ at Emo’s on October 7 with Jeremy Sole during his ACL Fest Late Night Show.
Saturday, October 7
Mobley – Miller Lite Stage – 11:30 a.m.
Since we love Austin acts so much, pop singer Mobley should be the first artist you should see on the second day of ACL Festival. This singer might the be hardest-working solo act in town. The man wrote, produced and played every instrument on his debut album, “Fresh Lies.” The singer defies categorization, drawing a number of styles to create his music. After committing to music full-time his career has begun to take off as evidenced by his first ACL Festival slot and non-stop touring with Phantogram, JUNGLE, Mute Math (also on the festival bill) and Robert Delong. He’s an entertaining performer who should jolt you awake Saturday morning if you’re struggling after partying on opening day.
Mobley performs with BADBADNOTGOOD on October 7. Get tickets here.
Car Seat Headrest – Honda Stage – 2 p.m.
We first caught Pitchfork Magazine darlings Car Seat Headrest at SXSW a couple years ago. While we were impressed with the young Will Toledo (he was 23 at the time) at the helm of his solo act-turned full band, it wasn’t until CSH’s appearance later that year at Primavera Sound Festival that we were drawn into the cult of Car Seat Headrest like their huge online following and corresponding writers at Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Paste Magazine. At only 25 years-old, Toledo and his band have years of great music ahead of them.
Car Seat Headrest sold-out their ACL Festival Late Night Show on October 12 at The Mohawk if that tells you anything about the band’s popularity.
The Black Angels – Barton Springs Stage – 5 p.m.
If you’re a fan of psych-rock then you cannot miss neo-psych pioneers, The Black Angels on Saturday. The Austin band that reinvented psychedelic rock for the new millennium is one our favorite local acts. The DIY group has their own music festival, LEVITATION (formerly Austin Psych Fest) and their own unique style of psych-rock that features guitarist Christian Bland’s sublime work along with Alex Maas’ heavily distorted vocals. Drummer Stephanie Bailey might be the area’s most underrated percussionist.
Take a listen to their latest, “Death Song” released earlier this year. It may be The Black Angels’ best effort yet. We recommend grabbing tickets to their Emo’s Late Night Show on Thursday, October 5 for full visual effects by TBA visual expert, Bob Mustacio. Psych rock pioneer Roky Erickson opens.
Ice Cube – American Express Stage – 6 p.m.
No one could have predicted whenIce Cube broke into music with the debut of N.W.A in 1986 with Dr. Dre and Easy E, the rapper would become a staple in major films like “Boyz in tha Hood” and “Friday” to this year’s movie “Fist Fight” but there he is appearing on screens everywhere.
Less often O’Shea Jackson performs as Ice Cube, after leaving West Coast gangsta rap pioneers, N.W.A. in 1989, which is what makes this set intriguing, particularly amid less established performers like Chance the Rapper and red-hot duo Run the Jewels. In three short years, Ice Cube was on his way to becoming an icon of American culture which makes him relevant despite his waning musical output. His first three solo records were huge hits beginning with 1991’s controversial “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted,” cementing Cube into the annals of great hip-hop artists.
Spoon – Miller Lite Stage – 7 p.m.
We love that C3 Presents booked two of our favorite Austin bands, the aforementioned Black Angels and hometown heroes, Spoon nearly back-to-back on Saturday. Spoon has played the festival before but gets a coveted evening slot on the Miller Stage this year on the heals of Matador Records release, “Hot Thoughts” and an ongoing world tour to promote the record.
What is not to like about the kings of Austin indie rock led by Britt Daniel (vocals, guitar) and Jim Eno (drums)? The band has been putting out incredible albums for over 20 years culminating in a return to the label they started out on. Not only does the album signal a homecoming of sorts, it’s a great listen.
Grab tickets to Spoon’s Late Night show on October 13 at Stubb’s while you still can.
Sunday, October 8
Middle Kids – Miller Lite Stage – 1:15 p.m.
Australian three-piece pop-garage rockers, Middle Kids impressed last March at SXSW where we saw the band play before Spoon’s Waterloo Records show. When we spotted this Sydney act on the bill we knew we had to see them again. Led by Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Hannah Joy, Middle Kids represent a world-wide trend of female-led acts similar to Austin’s Moving Panoramas and A Giant Dog.
Following SXSW, Rolling Stone named the group one of ten bands to watch, confirming their buzz act status. Catch Middle Kid’s Late Night Show at Antone’s on October 12 with Austin’s Summer Salt. Tickets are still available.
BADBADNOTGOOD – Tito’s Vodka Stage – 6:15 p.m.
Besides having an unforgettable moniker, BADBADNOTGOOD presents unconventional, free-form jazz in a way that appeals to young and older fans alike. The trio that is now a foursome hails from the wintery confines of Toronto. BBNG’s collaborations with Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah and Kaytranada have thrust the group into the forefront of the modern jazz/hip-hop trend best reflected locally by Brownout’s occasional performances with Ghostface’s bandmate and ringleader, GZA.
Their latest album IV is on regular rotation at our office for good reason, the album is refreshing, employs multiple styles (elements of kraut rock, & futuristic hip-hop are present). It’s a really great listen. If you’d rather see the group headline their own performance versus seeing them during the day at ACL Fest, grab a ticket to their Mohawk show on October 7. Austin act, Mobley opens the show.
Oskar Blues Brewery Austin is turning one year-old Saturday. To celebrate they’ve put together a stellar psych-rock bill featuring The Bright Light Social Hour with support from Abram Shook and The Halfways. Fans can win tickets by tagging 365 Things Austin’s Instagram account and a friend you’d like to take to the show. A second chance to win a pair of tickets comes in the form of reposting this story and tagging us on Facebook and Twitter. Contest runs through noon on Saturday. If you would rather just purchase advance tickets, here’s the link. RSVP via Facebook here.
Four new beers will be available in the tap room only meaning you can’t run out to HEB and grab a sixer. These are Texas-only offerings. There will be a Brewhouse specialty lager, gin barrel-aged Mama’s Lil Yella Pils, the introduction of an imperial red ale and a beer called Spinner. Food from Gobble Gobble and Hecho en Queso (4-11pm) will be available for purchase. Fans will also have the opportunity to pick up a custom, live screen-printed shirt from Fine Southern Gentlemen.
All that good food and drink is great but the reason you want to party with Oskar Blues Brewery is the great slate of Austin bands performing. The Bright Light Social Hour (TBLSH) has two full-length records out and a third on the way according to tour manager Katie Marschner. Their blues-rock debut featured a few local hits including, “Detroit,” “Back and Forth” and the unforgettable “Shanty.” The band shifted gears with their next full-length, heading in a decidedly psychedelic direction with “Space is the Place.”
TBLSH recently performed at Solstice Festival earlier this year with Built to Spill, JJ Grey and Mofro, CAPYAC and Radio Moscow among others. We overheard musicians backstage talking about TBLSH. They were impressed. They’d also forgotten how good the quartet led by Curtis Roush’s blazing guitar. Jack O’Brien (bass), Joe Mirasole (drums) and Edward Braillif (keys) is.
Supporting acts, The Halfways and Abram Shook represent a different take on psych rock than TBLSH but no less enjoyable. The Halfways ethereal sound is both haunting and lush, like a dreamy sonic landscape punctuated by a standard setup that included an eerie organ on one of their new tracks co-founder Daniel Fernandez sent us. They call it psych-noir. We call it trip-out tunes that are perfect to chill out to after a long day at work. The quintet also features Mohawk Austin Marketing Director, Taylor Catherine on bass.
We first caught the unconventional Abram Shook at The Parish on Sixth street several years ago. Vocal effects and songwriting produce a sound akin to Walker Lukens’ vocal gymnastics but with a psych bent. Think songwriter with a predilection for weird sounds.
Happy Memorial Day Austin! I hope we all take a moment to remember why we’re celebrating, and why it’s such an important day for our country.
I thought a fun way to pay tribute would be to enjoy the 15th Annual Free Memorial Day Concert & Sing-A-Long at the state capitol. The concert features songs of inspiration and patriotism to honor those who served our country.
For those that are having BBQ’s or celebrating on the water, please remember that it is a “no refusal” weekend. Don’t drink and drive.
May God Bless America and Austin, Texas.
When: Today, May 27th
Time: Noon – 1 p.m.
Texas State Capitol Grounds
1100 Congress Ave.
Austin, Texas 78701
Join Matthew McConaughey, Jack Ingram, and Mack Brown for the inaugural Mack, Jack & McConaughey (MJ&M) event taking place in Austin. Yes, you heard it right, some of Austin’s favorite names are coming together for a great cause. MJ&M is the first ever joint fundraising effort by Mack, Jack, and Matthew and will support organizations that positively impact the lives of children from across the country.
MJ&M will take place on April 11-12, 2013 with multiple celebrity-filled, one-of-a-kind events throughout Austin. Grammy Award-winning artist John Mellencamp will headline its Gala Night on April 11 at ACL Live at The Moody Theater as part of MJ&M’s inaugural, two-day event in Austin, Texas. Opening for John Mellencamp will be Austin’s very own Dale Watson.
Mack, Jack & McConaughey will continue on April 12 at ACL Live at The Moody Theater with the Jack Ingram & Friends concert featuring Kris Kristofferson and also including Bobby Pinson, Bob Schneider, Randy Travis, Holly Williams, Radney Foster, Allen Shamblin, Todd Snider and more on April 12.
They are anticipating a sell out event so get your tickets early. To purchase concert tickets please visit www.ACL-Live.com. Remember all proceeds from the event support select organizations that share MJ&M’s goal to empower kids.
To enter to win a set of tickets to the John Mellencamp concert on April 11 like & share this post. Winner will be announced Monday, April 8th.
To keep up to date with updated information on Mack, Jack & McConaughey follow them on facebook & twitter.
Yes , you can still enjoy the madness of SXSW without the luxury of a wristband/badge. The free shows are at Auditorium Shores are on of the best things for those that do not have credentials.
Free music plus the city as a backdrop are a sure good time.
As one that has experienced the free shows before here are some pointers:
Parking is NOT easy. Take a cab, ride a bike, get dropped off, walk. If you are there early you may be able to park at Palmer Event Center (yet you have to pay to park).
Be prepared for a crowd but it is a great time!
If you don’t have a specific show in mind that you want to see late afternoon/early evening is a great time to head out because watching the sky turn from day to night with Austin as a backdrop is pretty incredible.
Also, feel fee to tag me on instagram @365thingsaustin so I can see your pictures!