Dec 1 2011

Grammy Predictions: Bon Iver is No Arcade Fire

Grammy nominations are in, and Kanye’s been snubbed again. I mean, it’s nice and all that Yeezy leads the pack with seven nods, but no Album of the Year? No, instead that goes to….Bruno Mars? Oh, Grammys. Missing the mark….at least there’s something consistent in the music industry.

The aforementioned Mars earned six nominations, few of which he will win; Foo Fighters got the same amount, being deservedly recognized for their best album in years. But Adele, also in the six category, is the artist who will clean house this time around. She’s the perfect safe, AC-friendly, Grammy-loving, overrated nonsense the world rallies around. Like Taylor and Norah before her, Adele will bore us to tears with each tearful acceptance speech. God, please let Yeezy get up there and start yelling.

And then there’s Bon Iver, who scored some notable categories, including Alternative Music Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist (which in Grammy terms means “first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist”, so….yeah….can you say “arbitrary?”). So of course already he’s being hailed as the next Arcade Fire, who upset Grammy Nation last year by winning Album of the Year. Which was amazing and awesome. Unlike Bon Iver’s new, underwhelming, undeserving, overrated second album that’s ALREADY making everybody’s year-end list.

Here’s the straight poop: while Arcade Fire may have pulled the underdog bit last year, it’s not happening this year. I’d be surprised if Bon Iver walked away with anything at all. Alternative’s going to Radiohead. Record and Song are going to Adele, as is everything else. So who gets the BNA curse? It’s either the Band Perry (who I wouldn’t mark off right away, the Academy has shown in the past they love this lethargic style of country….remember Lady Antebellum?) or it’s going to Nicki Minaj, who has just blown up this year. So sorry Justin Vernon, you’re no Win Butler.

Radiohead, Skrillex, Lil Wayne, Foster the People, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Mumford and Sons round out the top nominees, and Daft Punk received recognition for their score to Tron. Also, I think I saw Fleet Foxes in the Folk category somewhere. So yeah, don’t let the nominations cloud your thinking….just because it seems like who they pick has been improving, who they actually award has not. Same as it ever was….I’m getting bored just typing this. February can’t get here sooner!

Nov 3 2011

Fun Fun Fun Fest Survival Tips

Fun Fun Fun Fest begins tomorrow – just typing that makes me so happy – and I’m sure you wild and crazy partiers have filled out your schedule and convened with fellow fest-goers. What you may not have done, however, is adequately prepared yourself to maximize the fun level. Here are some tips from an FFF veteran, myself, which will hopefully prepare you for the onslaught of awesome you’re about to digest.

1. Wear sunscreen and bring a jacket

Should be a given, but some people forget, and man oh man, when they forget, their weekend is ruined. I know all about it, trust me. The UV rays will be hitting hard because this is Austin, but it might get chilly in the evenings – sometimes we forget down here in Central Texas that it’s November.

2. You’re on your own with parking

Parking was so easy at Waterloo – there were three garages directly across the street. This isn’t the case with the Shores, so I recommend ponying up some cash for one of the downtown garages on 5th street. Since I live on the East side, I will be utilizing the free shuttle and walking down to Red River in the evenings. Neato!

3. Show up early if you want to see the band

Each stage is actually two stages, and they’re setting up one while someone’s playing on another, so I recommend standing near the front in the middle for the best vantage point. If you’re dying to see a particular band, get there early, find a good spot, and sit through the band before, who probably isn’t that bad. All the stages are genre-specific, so you might discover something similar that you like!

4. Make your money count

I know on Friday you’re gonna wanna get wasted and try all the vendors’ food and maybe buy your favorite band’s new record and a collector’s item screen-print FFF t-shirt. I will too. But we must remember that our cash has to last us three days this year, not two. So if you’re unable to partake in the third Fun on Sunday, it’s because you went overboard on the first Fun on Friday. Be wise with your monies. Because festivals aren’t cheap.

5. Stay hydrated

Being on a budget helps to prevent one’s self from consuming too much festival-priced alcoholic beverages. But sometimes, man, you just wanna rage! I wanna be buzzing for Major Lazer!, etc. I understand. Just plan accordingly. Check the time and judge your intake. If you’re getting embarrassing in the evening, make sure you drink plenty of water in the daytime.

Go here for more tips and rules and info about the fest, and I’ll see you there!

Nov 2 2011

Fun Fun Fun Nites Picks

Don’t know if you’ve heard or anything, but this weekend is Fun Fun Fun Fest, and I am so pumped. And also swamped with work I’m trying to get done before the weekend arrives. So consider this a quick post. Tomorrow I will post survival tips, and Friday look for a picks playlist, as well as a themed podcast on Saturday. Told you guys I was stoked. In the meantime, today I’m delving into the FFF afterparties, or Fun Fun Fun Nites, as they’re calling them, and picking my recommendations. For the first time this year, the only way to get into these bad boys is with an FFF wristband, and if you got one of those, the admission is free. There’s so much to pick from it’s like another festival happening right after the one at the Shores. The hustle to Red River should be exciting each night; in the meantime, here are my picks for what you should do once curfew comes around.


I’m probably sitting this one out, I’ll likely be finishing up school work and waiting for traveling friends to arrive, and really the only pull here is at Mohawk, where the always awesome Ty Segall will be shredding. I would show up late, though, because the Coathangers are unbearable.


By far the best night in the afterparty lineup – go hard this evening if you go hard at all. I’m watching Cold Cave for sure at Mohawk, then skipping over to the Parish for a headlining set from the Thermals. Also, Dead Confederate is rocking Deville, which is time well spent. Dead Confed put on a loud, loud show – kind of wish they were playing the fest as well…


I’ll probably get dragged to Mates of State at Parish, which I won’t mind, but my preference is Emire Automotive for the hipster-tastic Gorilla Vs. Bear party – Keep Shelly In Athens, Purity Ring, and a Neon Indian DJ set. If I enjoy Purity Ring at the fest, I might insist on this one, but if not, it’s whatevs.


The fact that I have class and will probably be exhausted at this point likely won’t stop me from attending Dom and Royal Bangs at Red 7 – another possibility is Thee Oh Sees at Beerland, as I will likely miss them at the Fest. Sunday night’s where the Red Bull comes in handy, among other things….

So what are your afterparty picks? Taking part in the festivities? Get at me.

Oct 18 2011

Fun Fun Fun (Finally) Announces Set Times and Afterparties

In what can only be described as a clusterfuck, the always hirsute (and probably stoned) organizers at Transmission have managed to officially, after literally months of anticipation, announce set times and the Nites schedule for this year’s Fun Fun Fun.  Those of us who have attended the fest in years prior are not surprised at the sheer lack of organization.  And because the bands picked usually rule, we are quick to forgive.  Transmission is usually slow getting things together.  They truly are the most casual, laid-back, and Austin-y of the two major promoters in town (love them or hate them, C3 has their shit down pat almost a year before anything happens – but their lineup usually sucks, so you take the good with the bad).

But now that the fest has moved to Auditorium Shores, is selling more tickets, and is bringing bigger acts, I think it’s time for a smoother operation.  Let’s chalk this year up to a learning experience.  With some minor setbacks, usually quickly corrected.  For the few of us who bought early bird tickets when the fest was only a two-day thing and then upgraded, we have only received two wristbands; meanwhile, Ground Ctrl Ticketing does not answer phone calls or e-mails, probably because it’s being run out of a shanty in Pflugerville…. or something.  The schedule today was initially released as a too-small-to-read press release JPEG on Austinist, but thankfully the lineup was posted on the official site shortly after.  Of course, the Nites schedule isn’t finished, and there was some original confusion over what stage Slayer is now playing (they’ve moved to Orange), but everything else seems to be intact.  As is the case when you make an official lineup, some bands were moved around, but it doesn’t seem too far off what was originally announced, and conflicts, at least in my opinion, remain minimal.  So great job, Transmission!  Looking forward to rocking at the Shores.  Now I just need that Friday wristband….

UPDATE: And they took my advice and got an app this year!  But no Android version….?

Oct 6 2011

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

Just Tuesday the news was all about the lackluster Apple summit new CEO Tim Cook hosted, and the new iPhone 4S, which is receiving underwhelming press. The commentary constantly remarked this was the first launch without the company’s figurehead Steve Jobs, and that something felt….off. Without Jobs around, is this a turning point for Apple? Are its glory days over? And now, with the untimely death of Jobs Wednesday afternoon, all of that is trivial.

To deny the radical influence Steve Jobs had on the world, and the profound sadness of his death, is simply foolish. I grow tired of seeing #iDead hashtags, Mac haters naysaying, or people who ridicule others for acknowledging the man’s productive life because they “didn’t know him.” Unsurprisingly, the ignorant Internet misses the point. Jobs’ work impacted everyone you know in some form. If you’ve played with an iPod, owned a modern smartphone, messed around with a computer, or watched a computer-animated film, you’ve experienced the inspiration of this man. It could be argued he helped saved the music industry from sheer collapse with the iTunes model. There’s a reason why his death is front-page news, why it’s a trending topic, why public figures are comparing him to Thomas Edison, why the President found it prudent to release a statement honoring him.

There’s no doubt Jobs lived a full life; he created and innovated technologies which are now second-nature household items, and his left-field thinking is still present in Apple’s mindset. And yet, we can sense that he was just getting started. That he still had a lot to show us. Very rarely does a visionary come around as forward thinking and as revolutionary, and Jobs certainly filled a void and created a vision that will resonate for years to come. The scope of that vision should be honored, and the loss of that vision should be mourned.

And so, I invite you to spend what will undoubtedly be the fifteen most inspirational minutes of your day and watch a speech Jobs gave in 2005 to a group of Stanford graduates. He tells three stories about connecting the dots, love and loss, and death. Each are fitting for a commencement speech (ironically, Jobs never graduated college), but they also apply to life in general. And if you’re looking for motivation for a full life, look no further than Steve Jobs.

Oct 5 2011

Sharing Without Caring? Facebook’s Open Graph/Timeline

We’ve all seen the Ticker and the News Feed updates, and we either love them or hate them. I find it particularly amusing when people get so fed up with Facebook’s incremental changes they whine and moan about something they can simply opt out of. It’s like complaining about how bad smoking is for you when you continue to smoke a pack a day. That analogy works well, unfortunately; it could be argued social networking is just as addictive. Probably now more than ever.

Because where are you gonna go? Google+, huh? The only friends I have on Google+ are the early adopters, the techies who were going to join anyway, no matter what. The Reddit readers, the iPad buyers, etc. Everybody else? Still on Facebook. And it’s not like those early adopters deleted their Facebook accounts, either.

If anyone should bitch about anything Facebook does, it’s not the layout changes, but their stance on privacy, which started off awful and has only gotten worse. The new Open Graph, in particular, pretty much makes you as a Facebook user vulnerable to every third party that wants any sliver of info about you. And to customize it otherwise is already a hassle, but at least for now it’s optional. Take Spotify, for example. All of us who use the service have seen what we were listening to broadcasted to our friends whether we wanted it to or not. At least currently, there are ways to opt out (the new “private listening” function should have been included initially – seems a bit obvious), but it made a lot of regular joes mad, for the short term anyway.

Those of us who follow tech, who are keen on new apps and features and software, we knew something like the Open Graph and Timeline was on the way. We knew Facebook’s history of wanting to share and share and share. We had an idea of the hidden algorithms; how else can Facebook attract advertisers? Third party apps? Zynga? Spotify? Every person and company in the world? This was a long time coming. But just because you see the train doesn’t mean it’s good when it hits you. And it hurts even worse for the average joe, who wasn’t really aware, or intuitive, about how exactly Facebook operates. Who had never heard that old cliche about free sites – if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

That old adage is now truer than ever. But at least Facebook is being more transparent and gradual with their rollouts and intentions this time around. It seems they may have learned a thing or two from the “Like” button scrutinies.

But users should be more aware of what’s getting out there, because it just might be something you don’t want. We all have an individual responsibility to control our digital spaces and perceptions, and we can’t expect, or trust, Facebook or any Big Web entity to necessarily incorporate acceptable defaults. This has ALWAYS been the case.

Facebook is taking a large leap with the Open Graph – an enhanced marketing tool that aggregates data enrichment and progressively precise analytics.  There are several things Facebook can do to adapt to our privacy concerns, and once they roll out the Open Graph for all, this will become more apparent.  The question is, will they do them?  In the meantime, users can adjust their Web social habits accordingly and still enjoy what I deem as necessary for the 21st century – personal, business, or otherwise: a social media presence.  Abandoning it altogether hurts you in the long run.  Facebook is rock and roll – it’s hear to stay. You can jump ship, but the world turns without you.

Sep 15 2011

My Obligatory Yearly ACL Fest Rant

And so begins the weekend when a crapload of people litter the streets, destroy our prettiest park, clog up our traffic even worse, and make downtown unbearable. A weekend of sunscreen and insufferable tourists. A weekend of avoiding arguably the coolest parts of town. A weekend of middle of the road music and thousands of spectators not listening to it.

You know, ACL weekend. Thank God it’s only a weekend.

As you may have surmised, I’m not going, as usual. If C3 would make a lineup worth seeing (thank you FunFunFun…again), I would pony up the $180. Of course, by the time they even announce, scalpers have already grabbed all the tickets and are selling them on Craigslist for $200+. Too rich for my blood for an experience as unbearable as ACL. The crowds, the lines, the heat, the general d-baggery. No thank you, I go to festivals to see bands play, not to deal with screaming children, rolling college girls, and unattended lawn chairs to trip on. I’ve bitched about all this before, of course, but something about all the undeserved hype that surrounds this weekend every year just sends me on a bit of a tangent.

Why is SXSW any better, you may ask? SXSW is a completely different animal – a downtown-wide festival with many venues, many options, and so much diversity there’s something for everyone. ACL is 80,000 people cramped in a park too small for such an event, and, frankly, the lineup is typical fest fodder. Think of it as Lollapalooza with less left-field indie and more homespun “safe” bands.

That’s not to say there isn’t some stellar shit happening, just not enough to warrant a scorching-weather weekend of my life and $200 of my precious cash. There’s enough great shows coming to town I’d rather attend – ACL afterparties included – that are more intimate and a better concert-going experience. And cheaper. And indoors/in the evening when it’s cooler. With less people and shorter lines.

But, hey, enough of me on my soapbox. You kids have fun! Let me know how Foster the People is! (don’t) Let me know if Coldplay rocks the house and burns the stage down!  (they won’t)  Let me know how many old people (probably sleeping) you trip over and then apologetically crawl off of! (tons) And maybe I’ll see you in November or March.

Sep 11 2011

9/11: Ten Years Later

I was dressed like a woman on 9/11.

That’s usually the first thing that comes to mind when people start talking about where they were and what they were doing when it happened. It was homecoming week; I was a high school Freshmen trying to win a costume contest. I had a padded bra, a wig, ear rings, makeup, the whole nine. I remember being in a great mood that day up until 4th period – history class.

I had been hearing about it all day – the first plane, the second, the Pentagon, and, living in a small Texas town, never having visited the East Coast in my life, all I was really thinking was, “Wow, that’s crazy.” Until 4th period. Mr. TeBeest had us watch CNN all period; I hadn’t watched any news coverage until then. “Aren’t we going to learn history?” one of the students asked. “This IS history,” Mr. TeBeest responded quietly. He looked shaken. I guess that was when it hit me, watching him, watching the news coverage. The room got really quiet, and I think I was the first one to break the silence after awhile. All I could say, with the overwhelming sense of fear, of shock, of anger, was “Oh my God.” Everything at that point felt so trivial, homecoming week, winning some dumb contest, everything.

Today, 9/11 is one of those events – our JFK, our Pearl Harbor. We’ve heard so much about it, we’ve seen the stock footage so much, we’re desensitized to it. We’ve forgotten how we felt that day. Usually when you talk about 9/11 now, you don’t really talk about the day, but what it led us to, economic crisis, two wars, etc. We talk about the lives lost, the heroism of police officers and firefighters and ordinary people. These are all great stories, but I feel like we’ve forgotten what we felt that day, that chill that went up your spine when you realized what exactly was going on, that undeniable fear. I think we lose a bit of perspective about why exactly 9/11 is still such an important day, even ten years later.

The most frightening movie I’ve ever seen isn’t a fictional horror movie, but a real-time documentary of the events of 9/11. It’s called 102 Minutes that Changed America. It’s showing this weekend on the History Channel and the Biography Channel, and you can stream it below. I encourage you to watch it, to remember, to put yourself in the shoes of the people that lived in New York that day. Sometimes, when we’re just watching a sky-shot of a building thousands of miles away on TV, we don’t get the true sense of what was arguably the most important day of our country’s life.

May 12 2011

Parking, Driving, Rocking: Austin City Council Election 2011

Probably more than any other election, your vote as a responsible Austinite for the three city council places up for grabs really does count.  Apparently hardly anyone votes in it, which is a shame, because we all are affected by the decisions these people make, from our taxes, to our zoning, to parking meters issues, etc.

As with every citizen, I find particular issues to be of more importance than others, but I feel it is vital for Austinites to pick the candidates of their choice and get out there this Saturday, May 14th, and vote!  Go here for voting info, including the candidates in each Place, and your particular polling location.

I live in East Austin, walking distance from downtown, and as most twentysomethings in Austin like to do, I enjoy taking in the essence of the Live Music Capital of the World.  I feel the current city council hasn’t done enough to protect the unique identity of Austin, its culture, and its entrepreneurial spirit, the reasons I chose to move here.  I am concerned the new parking meter weekend regulations will affect the downtown scene, and I feel more creative ideas can be kicked around to help deal with traffic congestion other than the expensive, archaic light rail plan currently being talked about.

I am for a single member district in Austin, and, most importantly, I am for city council members responsibly finding a balance with music venues and residents, so we can continue to have a thriving, vibrant music community.  Supporting artists and musicians is a high priority, as well as dealing with noise ordinance issues that could hurt the spirit and hipness of Austin.  I am for proper zoning that helps, not hurts, the bars and venues that make Austin awesome.

Finally, I want city council members to find ways to curtail the trend of the skyrocketing cost of living in the city, which has become frankly ridiculous, and has caused an unprecedented amount of gentrification on the East and South sides, while high-dollar development condo projects continue to be built downtown at unreasonably high rental rates.  I fear if we don’t elect new blood to the city council, Austin will slowly become what I fear the most – just another Texas city like Houston or, even worse, Dallas.

So, without more ado, here are my picks for Saturday’s election.  I encourage you to find your picks, or, even better, just go cast your vote for mine. 🙂

Place 1: Josiah Ingalls

Ingalls is running on a platform of “more transparency” in our local government, which I’m all for, as this has become an issue recently due to some discovered “closed-door meetings” that took place. While I don’t necessarily consider myself a “fiscal conservative,” per se, I do approve of a candidate that takes into account the need to round up spending on projects that the community doesn’t really care about, and Ingalls declares his passion for this more straightforwardly than the other candidates in this Place.

Place 3: Max Nofziger

Always great to see an Austin musician supporting the rights of his fellow artists, and fighting for their voice in this unique city. Cutting the budget is Max’s top priority, and he’s got some creative ideas for making Austin the Electric Vehicle Capital of the World, as well as a frontrunner on solar energy use. He’s got years of experience on getting our local economy and budget under control, and he firmly supports a single member district for better representation for Austinites. And as a bonus, he’s got the most badass moustache in town.

Place 4: Toby Ryan

Far and away my favorite candidate, Toby Ryan has no political background and doesn’t really want one. He’s a DJ at 101X, which is obviously a plus for a radio guy like me, and he wants to represent the people that actually make Austin what it is – the people in the service industries, the artists, and the thriving, but lately neglected, music scene. He has attended zero city council debates for this election, because he feels (rightly so) that it’s unnecessary if you want to work for the people who don’t vote, the other 90% of the city. He’s running on a platform to protect the interests of Austin music, and fighting the ridiculous sound ordinances and zoning issues that have come up recently because of incumbent Laura Morrison. More than any other candidate, Ryan is working to keep Austin’s unique identity, to keep us from becoming a boring hot Texas town, to Save Austin Music, and to bring a little common sense to City Hall.

Read a Q&A with Toby here.

May 3 2011

Quick Rants and Raves 5/3/11

Anyone that knows me knows I am a man of impeccable taste and opinion. Also: humble. So when many things all at once are on my mind, and the 140-character beauty of Twitter just isn’t doing it for me, I will take to the blog to sing my praises and wag my finger.

Rant: Austin City Limits Music Festival

I have ranted about this fest before. Major fests just aren’t my bag for a number of reasons. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but does any other major fest sell out three-day passes (or for that matter, even have them on sale) before the official lineup is announced? Probably more than any other fest, ACL seems to have a loyal gathering of people who decide they’re going every year, even before they find out the horrible, dreadful, increasingly worse list of bands playing. Or maybe C3 just doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing in regards to scalpers. I mean, if I really wanted to go to ACL, I could find tickets in Austin pretty easily via Craigslist/word of mouth. But it’s a matter of principle, and convenience, to buy them directly from the festival itself.

Rant: Who Gets Credit for Killing Osama Bin Laden?

It didn’t even take 12 hours for the Beltway and nonstop news cycle to ask the question: who gets credit for the execution of Bin Laden? And now, two days after Obama’s prime time announcement Sunday, they won’t shut up about it. MSNBC’s drinking the Obama Kool-Aid, and Fox News makes sure to mention every five minutes they think the Bush administration deserves a lot of kudos for this (they actually do deserve credit for the initial launch of the intelligence mission, though it was Obama who made it his #1 national security priority, and, of course, he was the President to sign off on the raid and watch it via a live video feed). And then there’s CNN, who are amping up the “retaliation” speculation, as they are wont to do in order to boost their god-awful ratings. How about we just wave our flags and chant a little more? This is a win not for Obama, or Bush, but for our entire country. You know who deserves the MOST credit for killing Osama? The heroes that did it.

Rave: Z-Trip Beastie Boys Mega-Mix

A career spanning mix of new and old Beastie tracks, from one of the best mashup artists out there. Check it.