Hendo’s Headspace: March
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Hendo’s Headspace is a place where I can spill all of the music related thoughts onto the site for you to enjoy. In the first 2 months of the column’s existence, that meant posting about a ton of new tracks I had been listening to, explaining my hatred for the Grammy’s, and giving props to some early AOTY contenders.
However, this month at least for me has been dominated by SXSW. Not because SXSW is some super cool thing that everyone needs to care about, but because this year The Alternative booked our first ever SXSW showcases and flew down for a week to run them. This meant months of planning and preparation from Delaney and me (mostly Delaney), and honestly I was pretty nervous about how it would all come out.
Well we have to thank the rock gods, because the showcases went amazingly. 42 bands played to consistent crowds for 23 hours over the course of 2 days. Holy shit. Thank you everyone who was able to come out and all the band that played. Not to mention while I was down in Austin I was able to catch a ton of awesome DIY showcases, and even a few chill corporate ones.
So for this month’s post I think the only thing appropriate for me to talk about would be all the bands that I was able to see down in Austin and recommend a bunch of my favorites.
All photography is by Carolyn Ambriano or Joey Tobin unless stated otherwise!
BEST OF SXSW
Photo by William Barbrow
Let’s start at the obvious place. I saw Prince Daddy play 3 times over the course of the week, and they are the best band in the universe. Their debut LP I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving was one of my favorites of 2016 and somehow their live show is even better. First I saw them kill it at the Topshelf / Funeral Sounds showcase Tuesday, then at a late night show at a huge Co-Op in some sort of ex-hotel dream space Wednesday, and then at our showcase on Friday. I have heard they also shredded on a roof somewhere along the way. In just the sets I saw, they got 2 legit encores (not these fake scheduled encore nonsense). No other band had that sort of rabid support (well maybe Mom Jeans, but I’ll talk about them more in a bit).
Prince Daddy just recorded a live session with Lil Elephant and that will give you a good taste of their scream along live show. This band is so good. Did I mention that? If you haven’t listened to their album yet you absolutely need to get on this. FFO: Rozwell Kid, Jeff Rosenstock, PUP, Weezer. They have new music coming soon. Get excited.
As I just said, the only band I saw at SXSW that had as much intense fan support as Prince Daddy was Mom Jeans. I only saw them play once unfortunately, but they headlined our Thursday showcase and that performance showed not only the love of their fans, but also that they could live up to the hype. They had the largest crowd out of both of the days of our showcases, and they were screaming along to every word. Then we all got kicked out of the venue so that some super exclusive cool kid shit could happen.
Mom Jeans released one of the best (and most successful) albums of 2016 with Best Buds. This thing is a 100% rock solid emo/punk break up album. Since its release the band has blown up a bit, but seeing them live and listening to them pull off the songs and emotion was just perfect. There is a reason this band stands out. I think their music in the future is going to show that, and their new split with Graduating Life (who also played Thursday) has already started to show they can follow up their success.
Photo By Doug Gallo
I’ve been saying this for months, but SXSW has confirmed it in my mind, Oso Oso wrote an AOTY contender with the yunahon mixtape. Jade just keeps growing as a songwriter, and it’s a beauty to watch. I saw them play as a full band twice (they headlined our Friday show and their set started at 2:30 am), and I also saw Jade play solo and acoustic at the Counter Intuitive after party (I think that set started at 2 am). Both varieties were excellent, although the lyrics were especially able to shine in the intimate acoustic late night session crouched in a weird barn in the back of a coffee place. Austin is wild. You can play music anywhere. Which brings me back to my point, no matter who you are, or where you are, you need to listen to Oso Oso they are easily one of my favorite bands.
*Oso Oso got robbed on tour after SXSW. Help them recover their lost gear, and throw them some support by buying their music and merch.*
The thing that was great about SXSW was that (like FEST) I got to see bands from across the country that are difficult to see otherwise. Because of this there were a ton of bands I got to see for the first time. The ones that I was most excited about were 3 Delaney brought from the Northwest to play our Thursday showcase, Strange Ranger, Snowroller, and Cool American.
Strange Ranger is a rock band with limitless potential. Seeing some of the songs from Rot Forever live was so incredible. If you haven’t listened to this album yet you need to give it a good long listen. It’s easily over an hour long and I am so glad they did not cut a single minute. I find new things in there every time I turn it on. Seeing them live was a dream come true, and I hope they’ll be making more trips out to the east coast asap.
And that was after I had gotten to finally see Snow Roller and Cool American for the first time. These 3 somewhat related bands are on to something great. In their own way each writing indie rock songs that I can connect with lyrical, and rock out to instrumentally. All 3 are worth a listen.
There were a bunch of other bands I finally saw for the first time and was definitely impressed. Football Etc. (new track is streaming), Del Paxton (new debut album is great emo rock), Backwards Dancer (the new album rips), T-Rextasy (who are an explosion of energy. See them live. Trust me.), Retirement Party (Avery came in her crocs and was ready to rock), The Weak Days (killing it as a 2 piece), Half Waif (who somehow were able to achieve their incredible tones even live at a house show), and Ratboys (who totally stunned me with their live performance of my favorite tracks from their last record and a few new ones). All of these bands are excellent. There really was an abundance of great music, one of the better weeks of my life.
The award for most sets seen goes to Kississippi who I saw 4 times in 4 days and that was no accident. I love their songs, especially the closer of their set the track “Greyhound”. Jess and I were singing it the whole flight home. They just put out an Audiotree session so you should watch that and then go catch them live the next chance you get.
I saw Jay Som at the She Shreds showcase (which was awesome and had free beer) and at the Taco Bell Feed The Beat showcase (which was also awesome and had free tacos). It was great to catch her live. I was really into her recent album.
You absolutely need to see Pictures of Vernon live. I saw them play acoustic and electric and either way they have the talent to pull it off. I have to say though, with them you aren’t getting the full experience unless you see them full band and witness a Churvel guitar solo and Daniel’s energetic vocals from behind the drums. Their EP was what’s up but I’m even more excited for their new album coming soon on Counter Intuitive. Also a documentary just came out about Churvel. Rock star life style.
Even though I was halfway across the country, I was still so excited to see a Jersey band for the 100th time. That is the power of Hodera. Their catchy indie rock tracks about mental health just never get old for me and their live performance brings it every time. They are hometown heroes, and good friends, and they are also one hell of a band. A new song they played at our showcase on Friday that was about losing a friend to heroin stopped me right in my tracks. They have new music coming in 2017 and you all are going to love it.
You 10000% need to listen to the incredible new Diet Cig album I Swear I’m Good At This. They were incredible live at SXSW, I only managed to see them once down there. Their music is awesome on its face and catchy as hell, but as you dig into the lyrics you realize there’s depth to it. Cannot recommend this band enough. Buy their album. See them live. Dance.
Speaking of bands who are incredible every single time I see them, Looming put together one of my favorite sets of the entire week. I have been listening to their debut since it came out and I am so excited for new music.
I wasn’t able to see PWR BTTM in Austin, because the lines were crazy long and schedule didn’t work, but you still need to get listening to them. Their new album Pageant is coming out in a few months and the singles so far have been excellent.
There were a bunch more bands you should definitely check out but this post is going on forever: Slingshot Dakota, Meatwave, Peaer, Mover Shaker, Ian Sweet, Save Face, Jouska, and pretty much the entire rest of our showcase lineup.
Okay I can’t resist telling you about few new non SXSW related bands.
This new Sorority Noise album is raw and emotional as fuck and you need to give it a good hard listen.
We premiered the new Snooze debut EP and it is everything I am looking for. A very strong Rozwell Kid / Weezer vibe and that is my jam.
Still listening to Heart Attack Man’s The Manson Family on repeat. Its such a dark album, but I really can’t get enough of it. This album fully encapsulates the feeling of depression and frustration that is so common in the dim reality of 2017.
We premiered a new Clique music video for their track ‘Usage’ off last year’s album Burden Piece. I really love Clique and what they are able to do winding limited lyrics into an emotional track.
You also need to listen to the new Remo Drive album. That’s it. I need to post this.