Back on Dada’s patio, Astronautalis was gearing up for their show. I guess that would actually be his show, since the band is mainly Andy Bothwell, though he was, of course, accompanied by some other musicians this day.
Given that I don’t usually care for hip-hop, I was curious how I would like this in the first place, but was willing to give it a try.
“We’re gonna start three minutes early, ‘cause it’s fuck off cold…” said Andy once the majority of the crowd wandered outside. A smoke break pushed that back, though, to about what their start time was originally set for; a fact he joked about.
“Have any of you ever seen any sad penguin documentaries lately?” Andy then asked, pointing out that they stay warm by huddling together, and urged the crowd to do just that.
“…This is the fifth element of hip-hop.” he then stated as the show got underway. The first song captivated me, and I liked the often harsh edge Andys’ voice to it. It was a bit rough, but that made it stand out; not just this day, but in general in comparison to other hip-hop acts I’ve heard.
He darted about the stage during that opening number, and afterwards mentioned he’d be doing a mix of old and new songs this day. “This is an old one.” he mentioned before beginning what I believe was “Contrails”. “And I wrote this!” he bellowed at different parts throughout the track, a sense of pride clearly evident as he did so, as well there should have been.
“The more we yell and the more we dance, the warmer we’ll get!” he told the audience, before starting the song I enjoyed the most, “This is Our Science”. The track was entrancing, while the live instruments (drums and guitar) fleshed out the sound; and I quite enjoyed the bit of singing Andy did before doling out the rap portion. Both are an art form the way he does it.
“Tell me this, put up your fingertips if you’re living your life exactly the way that you wished…” he said. Some of the people in the crowd threw their hands into the air with that line, while others (like myself), kept their hands in their pockets; not wanting to lose any warmth. And for the rest of us with our hands on our hips, our work is never done. We are Sisyphus…” he continued, finishing a verse that not only sounds good in the song when you’re listening to, but also allows for some great audience participation of sorts.
Andy was out of breath at this point, and took a timeout, during which he unzipped the jacket he was wearing, but only a little. “…It’s not hot enough, yet.” he quipped, then joked about the fancy plain white t-shirt he was wearing that had been revealed.
That was another aspect I quite liked to this show: not only was he a performer, he was also great about interacting with the crowd. The chatter came easily, and he often had the fans chuckling.
After recovering from that speedy track, he again mentioned they had a lot of new stuff worked in this day, as well as some old songs that had been remixed. “…This song’s a dance song now…” he remarked before “Dimitri Mendeleev”. One of those new songs he spoke of followed it. “…It’s not finished yet. Please don’t post anything on Youtube.” Andy said, sounding serious (though I’m sure he wasn’t), and that only prompted more people to hold their phones in the air and capture it.
If that song really isn’t done, than I can’t imagine how it’ll sound after any final tweaks. Sound-wise, it was the best thing I heard them do; it was also the last song I caught before venturing back to Three Links.
I was converted into an Astronautalis fan this day, and that was something I wasn’t counting on.
The guy’s as solid a performer as you could hope to find, and even though he complained about the cold this day, it never actually bothered or hindered him. He bounced back and forth between each side of the stage, making sure to work over every section of the crowd, while some of them danced along to music.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have left, because I would have enjoyed the rest of Astronautalis’s show much more, but I wanted to squeeze in as many bands as possible. Besides, I had seen some of the show. I’m already anxious to get the full experience, though, and luckily for me that will happen soon.
He’s slated for another Dallas show on April 5th, this one being at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which is free. For a full list of tour dates, go HERE; and check out his music in iTUNES.
Upset was a little late getting started over at Three Links, because, as singer and rhythm guitarist Ali Koehler said one song in, they had only found out there was a backline an hour beforehand. In fact, they also shouted out the band before them who let them use some of their gear.
They ran through the short “Back to School” (it’s only about a minute and a half long) and then another track, before Ali mentioned she was getting self-conscious of her shirt riding up, as she pulled it down. As she said that, some asshat made a remark about her weight (I didn’t hear what he said), which got her a bit defensive, and understandably so. She then shared a little anecdote about that having happened one before. She said her boyfriend kept trying to get her attention about it, but to no avail, and he eventually left out of sheer embarrassment for her. “That guy would have been stoked.” she jokingly said, pointing out the heckler after she finished her story by saying her shirt was up over her bra by the time that gig was done.
Patty Schemel dished out some quick beats throughout “Game Over”, giving it a fast pace; after which Ali again addressed her heckler, somewhat apologizing to him. “I don’t want to be mean, but I want to have a backbone.” she stated, after mentioning that whatever she got she’d essentially dish back out.
“Queen Frosteen” was a very good song, and was one of several where Jennifer Prince got to show off her chops on the guitar. On another note, I was impressed to learn that the bass player for the group had only taken up the instrument one month before, just so she could play with Upset. Ali mentioned this fact before their next song, saying she plays in another Los Angeles band, and had picked up the bass just to play with Upset.
Their next song was “Let it Go”, and described as an ode to Jawbreaker, and after another track they bantered some more. Obviously, they had made the trip to Dallas from Austin, and Ali informed everyone they had a bet going that if any of them referred to the music festival as “South By”, then they had to do some push-ups. “I think you owe us, like, twenty push-ups.” she said to Jennifer, shortly before pulling out the title track of their debut LP, “She’s Gone”.
It was during that one that I made my way back to Dada, as the next band on the inside stage there was getting ready to go on.
I didn’t dislike Upset, but I wasn’t made into a true fan, either. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to a rigorous schedule at SXSW; but Alis’ voice just wasn’t that strong. The musicianship was good and the live show was decent. Actually, that was another thing, they started off with some technical issues and had trouble getting all the mixes on stage right, and those seemed to persist throughout their show, which kept them from ever getting a firm footing.
Still, they’re worth checking out, especially if you like pop music. Check out “She’s Gone” in iTUNES.
Back over at Dada, Blouse was getting ready to start and the quartet opened their show with the lead/title track from their newest album, “Imperium”. I was instantly smitten with the dreamy, yet intense indie rock sounds they produced, and frontwoman and guitarist Charlie Hilton had a voice that perfectly fit with that genre.
The luscious indie rocks sounds continued with a couple other tracks, one of which I believe was “Shadow”. They also did another from their self-titled debut, “Firestarter”, The last song I caught was “In a Glass”; and I must say, as sweet as these sounds were, it was hard to walk out on them.
Jacob Portrait and Patrick Adams help round the band out, and along with the drummer and the second guitar, they created some layered music that is appealing on at least a few different levels. I mean, the rhythm section makes it all pretty forceful, and in that regard, they are clearly a rock band. But then you have the indie elements, which intertwine beautifully, and Charlie is able to pull off singing both of those genres with ease.
That’s the one downside festivals, you have to pick and choose who you see, and the next band was one I didn’t want to miss out on.
Blouse does have a few more shows currently on tap, and they can be found HERE. Be sure to check out their stuff on iTUNES, too.
Now, it was back to Three Links to see the band with perhaps the most interesting name ever: Diarrhea Planet.
The venue was near capacity when I walked in, and I had to settle for the first empty spot I found, which wasn’t too far from the door. I knew Diarrhea Planet had carved out a following with all their past trips to Dallas, and it’s a loyal one at that.
The six-piece was a little late getting started (no doubt thrown off by the earlier bands), but no one minded. Instead, it added to the suspense that you could feel in the air. And when they did start, singer/guitarist Jordan Smith and his band mates left the stage in near ruins with their first track, just from rocking so hard.
Actually, they encountered some technical difficulties after that one, which prompted one of their guitarists (between Brent Toler, Evan Bird and Emmett Miller there are three others) to shout, “That’s it, thanks for coming out!” He was joking, of course; and once things got straightened out, they ripped into “Separations”.
Even with all six of them crammed on this smaller stage, they still had plenty of room to rock out to the music they were making, and the audience was right along with them, banging their heads along to it all, while some sang along. Speaking of singing along, there were moments, like during that song, where almost the entire band was singing, and it sounded brilliant.
Before another song, Jordan mentioned they had played Dada just a few months back, and talked about all the good times they had, had in Dallas in the past. He then mentioned the next song was one they had never played in Dallas before. The fans (or at least some of them) cheered at that, an interesting reaction, since most fans of any band prefer to hear the stuff they know.
“We’re going to play some more, but first, we need to figure out what those are.” One of them said after that song concluded, making it sound like they were making this setlist up on the fly. “We’re gonna bring it down…” Jordan stated, noting they’d bring it right back up very soon.
Surprisingly, this roaring rock band pulled off the hushed sound quite well. It even lasted a few minutes as they did a lengthy instrumental portion, before the song was brought to life with blazing guitars and a mighty rhythm section, made up of drummer Casey Weissbuch and Mike Boyle on bass.
The time was drawing near for another band to start at the other venue, but I had to stick around for one more song, a song that saw Jordan and Brent standing back-to-back as they shredded on their axes.
I may have only seen a portion of their set, but Diarrhea Planet was another highlight of my day at Spillover.
The Nashville based band puts on one helluva live show, and you could tell they were all about the music this night, as well as entertaining those who were watching them.
I can easily see why the fan base they do have is so rabid, and I’m now proud to be a part of the fold.
They don’t have any shows on the books right now, but keep an eye on their CALENDAR. In the meantime, they do have two LP’s available in iTUNES.
Honestly, it had never been truly cold outside thus far, but now that the sun had long since set, it was starting to feel kinda chilly.
“Please exhale all of your warm breath towards us.” said Dee Dee Penny, frontwoman of Dum Dum Girls; who was shivering a bit before they began their 37-minute long set. Thing is, she was only have joking about that, too.
Their set was a smorgasbord of songs from their entire career, and they began with “Bedroom Eyes”, which evenly mixed both the pop and rock genres. There was a short enough pause after it where the crowd was able to applaud, before drummer Sandy launched them into their next song, “I Got Nothing”.
They kept powering through their songs, and now got to the first of the night from the newly released “Too True” album, “In the Wake of You”. It was one of the catchiest things they had done thus far (which is saying something), while that album boasts what is quite possibly the best collection of songs Dum Dum Girls has produced so far. Still, they wanted to play the older stuff that everyone was more apt to know, and “He Gets Me High” finished this first sting of songs, all of which had been almost seamlessly bled into the next.
“It’s a strange thing to play when you can’t feel your fingers.” bassist Malia remarked after the song had ended, prompting Dee Dee to thank everyone for “braving the cold”. “If anyone knows the guitar parts, feel free to come up here.” she added, before they tackled another new tune, “Are You Okay?”
They hit their stride with that one, and Dee Dee had a certain swagger about her as she performed that song. She might have been complaining about the weather, but she wasn’t letting it be a factor; and even though she had to be in front of the mic the whole time, she still found time to slide from side to side as she sang. She kept that up during “I Will Be”, and said swagger began to spread to her band mates, guitarist Jules, Malia, and even Sandy who was back on the drums.
They were firing on all cylinders after that short song, and then cranked out another one, “It Only Takes One Night”. “It only takes one night…” sang Dee Dee at the end, her band mates lending their voices to the mix, creating some very cool harmonies.
“Rimbaud Eyes” and “Lost Boys and Girls Club” were two more songs they did off “Too True”, the latter of which was another highlight, simply because of its slick, polished sound. Dee Dee then sit her guitar down for the next song, which allowed her to work the stage a little more; though the best moment came at the end. Malia and Jules again backed up Dee Dee, this time making for some harmonies that were nothing short of beautiful. Really, it was a moment that really made your jaw drop.
They were just about done by now, but before their final song, Dee Dee mentioned they had played Spillover about four years ago, back when Dum Dum Girls was doing their first ever tour. “…It’s good to be back.” she stated, before they wrapped it up with a rendition of Pale Saints’ “Sight of You”, which they put their own little twist to.
That was a fun way to end the show, a show that had me partially forgetting how cool the temperature was.
Unlike some of the other bands I saw this day, I had at least heard of Dum Dum Girls before, however, I had never taken time to listen to their music until seeing they were playing Spillover. I regret that a bit now, but it’s too late to change it.
I think the thing I liked most about them is they are very much a pop band, but manage to pull off the sound without sounding like the generic carbon copied stuff that litters the radio airwaves, essentially proving you can be a pop band and still have your own identity.
The songs are well written, and the live show – which was clearly were they excel - was fun and energetic (all the jumping around they were doing should have kept them somewhat warm).
Out of the fourteen bands I saw here at Spillover, they’d rank in my top five, and I will (hopefully) be seeing Dum Dum Girls again, whenever they get back to Texas.
Their music can be found in iTUNES, and they have plenty of shows coming up all around the world. Check out all the dates HERE.
Dada was surprisingly empty inside; and I hurried to grab a spot as close as I could get to the stage (which was just a few people deep, so close) for one of the bands everyone seemed most excited about being on Spillover: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
The band had been added just a couple weeks prior to the show, and even though they’ve been together for about seven years now, this marked their first proper show in Dallas, a fact singer and guitarist Kip Berman pointed out at one point during their set.
He took the stage all on his lonesome at first, performing “Art Smock”, a song that will presumably be on their upcoming album due out in May. Some people didn’t even realize the show had started, thinking it was still music playing over the PA system, just since it was so low-key, and appeared surprised when they looked up and saw Kip on stage.
“…Should’ve guessed it was gonna fall to pieces in my hands again…” went one of the lines from that tale of heartache, which I thought was good way to open up the show. Perhaps that’s because I’m often drawn to slower songs like that, and playing it early like this was the only appropriate spot for it in the setlist.
When he finished it, the rest of the band emerged from the green room, and Kurt Feldman took his spot behind the drums, while the keyboard player/female vocalist got on stage left, and bassist Alex Naidus and guitarist Connor Hanwick took the stage right after.
They sprang to life with “Until The Sun Explodes”, a short, but captivating song that showed off the type of indie pop/indie rock sound the band has perfected. It was catchy, and every free moment he got, Kip was shredding on his guitar, while his band mates bobbed along to the quick pace of the track.
That continued as they churned out a song I absolutely loved, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”. “…She was the tear in a rainstorm. She was the promise that you would’ve sworn…” Kip sang in his higher register tone, while many of the fans sang right along with him on this song about losing a love.
Next came “Simple and Sure”, their newest single from the forthcoming “Days of Abandon” album, and upon finishing it, they took a break for Kip to address the audience.
“We’re proud to play Spillover…” he said, which was also about the time he mentioned this was their first gig in Dallas. “…I’m psyched! Let’s do some more!” he exclaimed after chatting briefly, leading them to a song from their self-titled album, “Come Saturday”. Kurt then wound them into “Young Adult Friction”, which was one of a few songs this night where the keyboardist (apologies, I was unable to find her name) added some great vocals alongside Kip’s.
“This song’s called Masokissed.” Kip informed everyone before they pulled out another track, following it with a couple more songs, which led them to their final number. It was only fitting that they end with the song that is the title track of their self-titled record, and “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart” capped off their 35-minute long set, and the often repeated line of “We will never die. No, no we will never die.” came across as a sort of anthem this night.
On the surface, you could say The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are an “emo” band and leave it at that, but there’s really so much more to it.
Sure, a majority of the songs deal with heartache and losing love, but there’s more depth to them than just that. They often have a core message of soldering on, even when it’s hard to do.
Kip and his band mates definitely know how to pen some amazing songs, and the upbeat music that accompanies them ensure that everyone gets in to them, including the band. Kip often thrashed about when he could, bending over and playing his guitar, while Connor and Alex jumped about, somehow managing to never get in one another’s way, despite the close confines they were in.
Second favorite band I saw this day was The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (I just love saying/writing that name), and I hope their second Dallas show will come sooner rather than later. After all, they will have a new album to support in the very bear future.
They have plenty of tour dates scheduled, including some overseas. For the full list, go HERE. Their current releases can be found in iTUNES, and on May 13th, “Days of Abandon” will become available.
Everyone now migrated outside, where Ty Segall and his band were set to headline the outdoor stage.
“…I haven’t been here in awhile…” Ty remarked before beginning his show, guessing it had been about two years or so since he last played Dallas.
Having listened to Segalls’ music, I wasn’t a huge fan of the lo-fi sound all of his songs have, and was skeptical about how this show would be. That skepticism vanished as soon as they started “Wave Goodbye”, which was the first of a series of songs they played consecutively, with another being “Death”, which saw Ty being hit with a drink one rowdy fan had thrown. It didn’t even phase him, though, and he kept right on playing his guitar to create the mangled sound that is heard at the beginning.
That’s the one good thing for people like me who aren’t big fans of lo-fi: Live, the bands rarely sound like their albums do. This was balls-to-the-wall intensity, and everyone who was watching the band was getting worked up, and moshing and crowd surfing had already started.
“YEAH! YEAH!” shouted Ty before their next song. To show how much attention I was actually paying, I didn’t even notice when the speaker on stage left got knocked down, though I did happen to see when two guys walked on stage and lifted it back up and into position. See, I’m not exaggerating about the audience being rowdy.
“We have Robocop on guitar.” joked Ty, right before “I Bought my Eyes”, which I thought was one of the best songs of their set. The first half with the lyrics was good, and it got great during the instrumental end, when they all cut loose. Another song followed, and it was after that, that his security decided to put a stop to all the moshing/crowd surfing, thinking it was getting to out of hand.
Ty called them off, though. “It’s okay…” he told them, before looking out at the crowd who had quickly stopped at the sight of men. “Keep on, it’s fine. Keep on.” he assured them, before they got down on another killer track.
“Do you want to hear a couple of new ones?” asked Ty. The audience was receptive to that, and enjoyed the batch of newer tracks the band performed, all of which fit the mold Ty has cast for himself.
What was possibly their most intense jam session of the night came during the song “Feel”, after which he got back to his more comedic side. “We are all going to go home… get the peanut butter… take it out… and put it on our dogs tongue.” He said, pausing briefly here and there, making it so you weren’t quite sure where he was going with that, all the while the other guitarist was playing the theme music from the classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone. That got the crowd laughing, and by this point, everyone was so engulfed by the show, they could have cared less about the cold.
Several more songs followed, one of which was “Finger”, while another saw Ty repeatedly striking the top part of the fretboard, right near the headstock, creating a wickedly good sound. They had some more fun before another song, doing the “Addams Family Theme”, while “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” capped off their 52-minute long set. It was an epic one, and tied for first place as being the best performance I witnessed here at Spillover.
To say he’s a guitar virtuoso would be pretty spot on, and he has a pretty good voice, too.
It was impossible not to get into their fast paced, heavy-hitting songs, and they delivered one helluva rock show. A rock show that passed by way too quickly, all because I was so wrapped up in it.
I can’t say I’ll be buying his music, but you can find it HERE, and a list of his upcoming shows is on his OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
There were two bands left, and the next one inside Dada was one I didn’t much care for in listening to them beforehand. It was also another forty minutes or so before the last band hit the stage at Three Links, and not wanting to wait that long, I decided to call it a day (or night, however you want to look at it.)
This was a truly spectacular day that Parade of Flesh had organized, and for those like me who missed SXSW, this at least offered a bit of the festival spirit. You can’t equate Spillover to that internationally renowned fest, but at its core, it’s exactly the same: It’s all about exposing people to new music along with bands they already know and love.
After attending SXSW for the first time ever last year, I was bummed I was unable to repeat it this year, but Spillover satisfied that craving, and I was able to see several bands that I would not have seen had I made it to Austin.
Point is, this was the start of what I plan on making a tradition, and I’m already looking forward to March 2015 and the next installment of Spillover.