Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 13, 2014
Poi Dog Pondering – performing Thursday through Saturday at the Continental Club – visited Austin from the first time in February 1987. Bandleader Frank Orrall and eight friends had left Hawaii the previous year and were traveling across the mainland U.S., playing on street corners and college campuses along the way.
The University of Texas West Mall and the 23rd Street Artist Market on The Drag proved ideal spots for their impromptu acoustic performances, and they ended up staying in Austin for a month. Eventually the band settled here, becoming one of the city’s most popular bands before relocating to Chicago in the early ’90s.
Their Continental shows will feature the band’s “Austin lineup,” featuring nearly everyone who took part in making Poi Dog’s records from 1988 to 1992. For more on those shows and the band’s history, see our interview with Orrall at mystatesman.com or in the Austin360 section of Friday’s Austin American-Statesman.
In our interview, Orrall was surprised to learn that the iconic Austin skyline mural on the south wall of the 23rd Street Artist Market recently was damaged by graffiti, though it has been partially restored. “We used to play right in front of it a lot when we first got to town,” Orrall remembers. “It was nice because it was off the street, so you could get away from the street noise. But people could gather there, so it was a good place to play.”
Its undamaged condition is preserved in a 1989 video the band filmed there for the song “Living With the Dreaming Body”:
Longtime Richard Linklater cinematographer Lee Daniel was at the helm for the video, though execs for Columbia Records – the band’s label at the time – had their own designs.
“Lee’s original idea was for it to be kind of a cinema verite kind of thing,” Orrall remembers. “He wanted it to be like, ‘OK, you’re just going to go play on the street, and just let me film it.’ But then the Columbia guys got in the way, and it turned into a way more high-budget video than it was intended to be.
“I remember when they brought out the (dolly) tracks to do a tracking shot,” he says, laughing heartily at the memory. “We were like, oh man, it’s over now!”