Monday, March 20, 2006

Saturday Looked Good to Me

I finally left the duplex around 3pm on Saturday afternoon. The Pop Culture Press day party at Dog & Duck was in full swing under a huge tent. There were a lot more people there this year, too. Peter Case did a folk-rock set with a trio that included a swell version of the Plimsouls’ “Zero Hour” that almost made up for me having to miss their set Wednesday.

The afternoon’s biggest highlight was a barn-burning electric set by Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three. They lathered up the crowd with the six-minute fast lane driver, “Amphetamine,” then delivered a knockout punch in the form of Dream Syndicate’s “Tell Me When It’s Over.” I’d only dabbled in Dream Syndicate and Wynn’s subsequent solo work, but now I understand all the breathless critical raves.

After a long set change, the much-anticipated Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs arrived. Hoffs is still a total babe with an amazing voice, but her and Sweet’s set of Sixties covers like Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” and Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" left me a bit nonplussed following Wynn’s performance. Looking at the track list of their forthcoming Under the Covers album on Shout! Factory, I can at least vouch for their impeccable song choices.

After a quick barbecue break at Ruby’s, I went downtown to see Elephant 6 offshoot Great Lakes at the Hideout. Dan Donahue couldn't make the gig, but Ben Crum and his backing musicians put on a relaxingly good show. Because the Hideout doesn’t sell beer, representatives of Athens, Ga.’s Orange Twin collective passed out free Lone Stars and PBRs. That was a nice surprise.

My old Cheezus/Noodle bandmate Jonathan Toubin’s new band Cause for Applause was scheduled to play at the Velvet Spade at 11pm, but vocalist/bassist David Lloyd got stopped by police for a traffic violation and it came to light he didn’t have a driver’s license. Unfortunately, what he did have was a warrant.

The band told their stage manager who told SXSW who called APD who released Lloyd at the last minute. Their set was truncated, but at least they played. Lloyd sings like an even more gutteral version of Richard Hell. I always like to watch Jonathan play, and I think having another guitarist to play off of brings his style into focus. It was good stuff, especially coming from a band playing for the first time with a substitute drummer who hadn’t even rehearsed with them and a singer who’d just avoided a night in the pokey.

Working in the dual roles as guitarist and label head of New York Night Train, Jonathan was plenty stressed, but he kept his anxiety under wraps. He’s just cool that way. If I’d been in his shoes, I would’ve needed some new britches. And we can all be thankful that I wasn't and I didn't.

I wanted to drop by the Pretenders at Stubb’s on the way to see the High Dials at the Ritz, but the line was way too long. The High Dials made up for it with a good dose of psychedelic pop that ended with a spaced-out jam between them and Australia’s Morning After Girls. That was about all I could take for one day.

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